Relationship therapy and counseling for couples in crisis
“Relationships don’t cause pain and unhappiness; they bring out the pain and unhappiness that is already in you.”
— Eckhart Tolle
“Couples choose each other with an unerring instinct for finding the very person who will exactly match their own level of unconscious anxieties and mirror their own dysfunctions, and who will trigger for them all their unresolved emotional pain.”
— Dr Gabor Maté
It’s time for relationship therapy and counseling when you’ve lost that loving feeling: the safe connection, the warmth, intimacy and passion that used to be so uplifting. The distance between the two of you is growing; you don’t understand why, and you can’t seem to stop it. Mutual criticism and contempt, defensiveness and cold, stony-faced withdrawal are becoming increasingly common, driving you apart. Misunderstandings and conflicts, rather than being resolved, fester and escalate uncontrollably.
Maybe there’s even someone else in the picture. Suspicion and actual unfaithfulness erode the trust that’s crucial to safe connection.
You’re feeling increasingly lonely and desperate. Rather than making love, you’re making war — fighting with bitter, toxic words, or even physically attacking. You see your partner closing down and withdrawing, changing into an inaccessible and unresponsive stranger. Or you are the one who withdraws. Either way, you feel increasingly alarmed: anxious, helpless and powerless to stop the rot.
It’s time to start talking in a way that restores and repairs safe connection. To discover how, contact me now.
Amid a painful crisis, relationship therapy and counseling is essential. You need to confide in a third party who neither takes sides nor judges you. Someone who understands and respects everything you and your partner say, do, think and feel — a warm, empathic, caring guide who takes both partners’ feelings and concerns seriously, yet dares to confront each of you with what’s driving you apart.
The joint sessions and the ‘homework’ you do between them enable you to access and safely communicate your deepest emotions and unmet attachment needs and thus step out of dysfunctional patterns of reactivity and into empathic, reassuring responsiveness.
My 13 years of professional experience, support and guidance will enable the two of you to take decisions and practical steps that are right for both of you, that you can commit to, and that are healthy, constructive and sustainable — also for your children, if any. If you eventually decide that this relationship has no future, at least you can separate amicably and minimise the damage and regrets.
Deciding to work on your problems together, by going into relationship therapy and counseling, is a great step in the right direction. With my feedback and guidance you come together to forge a new alliance, to build a more realistic and resilient relationship.
Integrated therapy approach to enhance your love bond
As an integrative therapist, in working with couples to enhance their empathic connection, their communication and their emotional, physical and sexual intimacy, I integrate a variety of insights, models and interventions.
Those derived from Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) for couples are crucial and often effective. Therefore, in most cases, that kind of approach forms the backbone of the therapy. For example, I recommend that couples buy and work together through Dr Sue Johnson’s pioneering book Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love, which is the core work of EFT (the approach that she and her colleagues developed and tested in therapeutic practice).
If both partners are motivated and committed to the process, by working in this way they will gain valuable insights and see new opportunities for creating or repairing mutual empathic connection, which is the bedrock of adult love relationships. The most important opportunity is to feel – in your body – identify and express underlying negative emotions that get ‘triggered’ when there is misattunement: a breakdown of connection. By directly sensing their triggered core emotions at such moments, the partners also learn to identify and express their unmet attachment needs to each other as polite requests and warm invitations to connect empathically.
EFT is not the only approach that I integrate in working with couples. That would be too narrow a focus.
Another important resource is the insights and findings of The Gottman Institute, which over the past five decades has conducted more scientific research into the dynamics of adult love relationships than any other psychologists. I therefore recommend that couples buy and read together Dr John Gottman’s excellent book The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work (whether they are married or not).
Another essential resource for couples is Non-Violent Communication, as elaborated in the books and videos of its late, great founder, Dr Marshall B. Rosenberg (1934-2015), one of my greatest sources of personal and professional inspiration.
In working with struggling couples, I also integrate aspects of polyvagal theory, cognitive behavioural therapy, transactional analysis, The Work of Byron Katie, psychodynamic therapy, inner child work (reparenting the inner child), body-oriented therapy (such as somatic experiencing), Mindfulness meditation and aspects of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), etc.
Summary: There is no ‘standard treatment protocol’ or one-size-fits-all approach to the many and varying challenges of adult love relationships. Therefore, integrative therapists do not subscribe to or practice a single approach or methodology. In couples work, they incorporate functional aspects of various ‘schools’ of psychotherapy. From an over-arching vision of what is most appropriate and likely to be most effective for each unique couple right now, the integrative relationship therapist tailors each therapy, each session and each process step to the specific core problems and needs of the partners – as individuals and as a love-bonded alliance – while those problems and needs are occurring in the here and now. This is, above all, an experiential approach, because change (i.e. learning, healing and growing) can only happen here and now.
Discover how integrative relationship therapy and counseling will work for you. Don’t wait for an imaginary miracle: contact me now.