One thing all human beings have in common is that despite having been hurt in one way or another, we cannot escape relationships. We are constantly in relationship: to our environment, with our friends, our lovers, our families, and perhaps most importantly with ourselves. To be alive is to be in relationship, and yet so many of us do not know how to be in healthy relationships. We have been hurt, abused, neglected, taken advantage of, and the thought of putting ourselves out into the world, the thought of being vulnerable and creating true intimacy, is utterly terrifying.
With no time to spare and no surplus of energy, it is difficult to give our relationships the attention they need. When we are stuck in a rut, we are too tired to be loving, to be thoughtful and kind to our lovers, and to communicate our deepest desires and needs. We grow cold and distant from the ones who know us best, and we grow apart rather than together. Over time, lack of honest and open communication corrodes relationships in the form of resentment.
Couples seek therapy for a variety of issues, and a common misconception is that couples therapy is only for couples whose relationships are in trouble. Some couples seek therapy because they are having a difficult time communicating, wish to increase physical and emotional intimacy, or wish to learn how best to support a partner who is in crisis (addiction, eating disorder, depression, PTSD, etc.). Others seek therapy because they need help separating in an amicable fashion or need guidance on how to co-parent after a divorce or separation. And still others seek therapy to rediscover or redefine their relationship as new parents, empty nesters, or caretakers of elderly parents.
Couples therapy affords couples a safe place to explore how they ended up on opposite sides of the bed, opposite sides of the argument – as opponents rather than teammates. As painful as love can be is as healing as love can be. Couples therapy is an incredible opportunity for individuals to heal themselves through healing their relationships.
Family friction often arises in times of transition or change (i.e. Children enter adolescence, a family member is in crisis, parents are getting divorced, etc.) because it can be difficult for families to adapt. As individual family members evolve and/or family circumstances change, it is vital for the family to adjust accordingly. Because the family dynamics are playing out in the context of the session, I often take an active and at times directive role. Together, we look at the way the family is operating, identify interactional patterns that have become problematic, and work to improve the functioning of the family system and each of its individual members.