Drawing by: Sarah Jameson

Are you a Couple who Struggles with Communication Issues?

Despite your best intentions, you and your partner continue to struggle with communication issues in your committed relationship or marriage, causing intimacy and connection to be left behind. You may find that as you try to talk about something important, one or both of you may get easily triggered or set off by something the other person says and then you both spiral into a fight. It feels like the crucial messages that you each seek to communicate are simply not getting through to each other. You may notice these communication breakdowns are starting to challenge other areas of your lives, such as parenting, work, or even your fun time together. With minimal success, you may have tried ignoring the problem, just being kind and nice to each other, or reading self-help relationship books. However, none of these directly address the core issues involved in relationship communication problems.

Couples Counseling: The Path to Intimacy

Couples Counseling becomes a safe place where both you and your partner can find and rest in the deeper connection of the love you both share. Healthy committed relationships and marriages are about balancing connection & intimacy with independence & autonomy. Ideally, each influences and helps the other. Couples therapy helps to achieve this balance in your relationship, so that your communication can happen effectively and with ease. Using mindful awareness, couples counseling seeks to slow down your interactions so you can begin to identify how each of you becomes triggered and set off in your relationship. You can then gain clarity about certain past wounds and injuries that can often show up in your current relationship, thereby obstructing the intimacy and connection that is wanting to happen.

Couples Therapy is for you and your partner if you would like to:

  • Learn to communicate in a more constructive and connecting way
  • Be light and enjoy each other’s presences
  • Discover how to relax into intimacy with each other
  • Reestablish & rekindle your connection with each other
  • Gain clarity and understanding before making a larger commitment to each other through marriage or other life-commitments
  • Seek support for very intense and challenging life circumstances and/or transitions (such as death, divorce, retirement, or infidelity)
  • Expand their support network for couples with special needs children

What to expect with couples counseling?

Couple counseling sessions are 60 minutes long and typically happen weekly in my office located in Portland, Oregon.  After meeting with me for the first time as a couple, we may decide together that is helpful to have one session with each of you individually. I often incorporate a mindfulness approach to couples counseling. This means that you and your partner may be asked to bring your awareness internally at various points in the session. Practicing mindfulness helps reduce defensiveness and fosters closeness. Couples counseling seeks to go beyond the challenging emotional cycles of anger, blame, and criticism that often painfully arise in relationships, especially around difficult issues. Over time, couples counseling can help you and your partner to feel and express the underlying and unacknowledged emotions of fear, hurt, loss, and sadness. This deep sharing can reestablish trust and cultivate a sustaining intimacy. Along the way, you will also learn communication skills and techniques that you and your partner can practice in-between sessions and integrate into you relationship.

Why I can help you?

Along with my extensive training and education in relational counseling and mindfulness-based therapy, I hold a vision for all couples, heterosexual and same-sex partnerships, that healing and growth can happen through the challenges of intimate relationships. I see all the tricky and frustrating issues that people in committed relationships deal with (such as sex, power, anger, or blame) as ways that couples can actually learn to love each other more and achieve greater intimacy. I also recognize that this path is not easy and great commitment is needed. My goal is to help couples find hope in discovering this truth for themselves.

Non-Violent Communication for Couples

I heartily recommend that the couple I work with also take classes in learning Non-Violent Communication for couples.  My colleague LaShelle Lowe-Charde does a fabulous job of leading these classes. Click here for more information about her classes as well as for many helpful resources for couples.

Upcoming Couples Workshops in the Portland Area

The Power of Healing in Intimate Relationships. Read more by clicking here. LaShelle and I lead this workshop twice per year.  Participating in this workshop with your partner is a potent way to deepen and expand your couples therapy.