Have breaches of trust eroded your relationship?
Has affection turned into arguing?
Do you feel exhausted, alone, or on edge around your partner?
Are you having a hard time communicating and connecting?
Do you wish enjoyed your relationship more?
Are you happy with your relationship, but feel you could benefit from therapy?
Spoiler Alert: "Happy couples can (and should!) go to therapy. You don’t need to wait until you’re about to break up. It’s certainly scary to ask your partner to go to therapy with you when things are basically status quo, since we tend to think of couples therapy as a last-ditch effort. " Read More.
Sometimes, couples get stuck in a "problem loop". Understanding how thoughts, feelings and actions interact, you can make lasting changes that improve your life together.
The Love trap... what got us here in the first place.
According to scientists, when people initially ‘fall in love’ they exhibit the same activity in the brain regions as someone using cocaine, with the main neurotransmitter activated being dopamine. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that triggers the brain’s reward system that gives the lover focus, energy, motivation and craving. When dopamine is activated our brains want more and get upset if they don’t get it (eg. triggering anxiety when apart). The brain craves love like it’s a drug, resulting in distorted reality (eg. ignoring flaws of the other, putting other on a pedestal, ignoring red flags or differences in values). People experience personality changes, do inappropriate things and obsessively think about the object of their love as the center of their world. This is not love. It is infatuation, attraction, desire, romance.
Love is a thoughtful and present experience of tuning into your values, understanding the stories that have shaped your thoughts, feelings and behaviors, and choosing to behave your best and meet your partner's needs even when they are faltering to meet your needs and when what you want is as important as what what the relationship needs.
MOXIE PSYCHOTHERAPY FOR COUPLES
Couple Therapy sessions using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) skills are highly focused skill-building sessions which introduce ACT strategies and skills in a safe, relaxed and comfortable space. The atmosphere is easy going usually with a fair amount of humor. Skills are taught in sessions which usually are 50 minutes. Sometimes longer sessions are scheduled, if requested. Homework is an important component of the therapy work. This might include practicing newly learned skills, small amounts of reading, keeping a log and giving feedback. ACT couple therapy complements Gottman and Mindfulness approaches. Couple Therapy using ACT is really about building skills which:
Allow partners to be more aware, present and engaged with themselves and their partner;
Allow this awareness to fill each moment of the relationship;
Allow partners to move from being swept along by endless stories or narratives and judgements and the feelings that they trigger to a much more flexible and adaptable response to the demands of the situation;
Allow behavior and action to flow from being more conscious of what is most important in each moment.
Each partner becomes less likely to be swept away by strong emotions, less reactive and less likely to end up feeling distant and isolated from each other and lonely in the relationship. They instead develop Psychological Flexibility.
Psychological Flexibility refers to the ability to adapt to a life situation with awareness and focus – and to take effective action guided by your values – your heart’s deepest desires as to who you want to be, what is most important to you, what you want for yourself in your life. Couple therapy using ACT build skills within each partner that allow for greater awareness and choice in the moment by slowing down what is often a very fast process, putting on the brakes and being able to recognize what is going on in the head and the body in the moment by paying attention in a different way.
ACT along with other Cognitive, Behavioral Therapy approaches, draws strongly on the principles of Mindfulness. Mindful awareness allows one to be aware of ones thoughts, feelings, fantasies, stories and other “events” happening in our minds. ACT pays particular attention to these “schemas” especially the stories or narratives which often shape and direct our reactions in powerful ways.
ACT Effectiveness Research
“ACT with Love” (Acceptance and Comittment Therapy with Couples) – Russ Harris MD.
“The Mindful Couple” – Robyn Walser Ph.D.
“Psychological Flexibility: ACT in Action” – Steven Hayes Ph.D.
“ACT made Simple” – Russ Harris MD.
“The Miracle of Mindfulness: a Manual on Meditation” – Thich Nhat Hanh.
“Wherever you go, there you are : Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life” – Jon Kabat-Zinn Ph.D
“Ten Lessons to Transform Your Marriage” by John Gottman Ph.D. and Julie Schwartz Gottman Ph.D.
To assist you in healing and making changes, I offer both in person and online therapy. You can meet with me in person at my office, behind my office in a private courtyard, walking together, or if your busy schedule or health concerns don’t allow us to meet in person, you can meet with me via phone or online (teletherapy). Sessions are typically 50 minutes once a week, depending on the circumstances. I strongly encourage meeting as a couple unless otherwise directed* as part of the treatment plan. The couple is always the client, and goals are set in relation to this premise. If you find you need to work on individual goals outside of couple therapy, or if you are already seeing a therapist, please discuss with me so we can determine the appropriateness of working together at the same time.
*Individual sessions are completed early in couples' therapy for the following purposes:
To observe and interact with each partner in context without other partner.
To hear how each partner sees and feels about their partner and the relationship.
To obtain information and check hypotheses (e.g. competing attachments, level of commitment, previous trauma that may be impacting the relationship in the present, contraindications, safety concerns, etc.).
To refine impressions of attachment fears and needs underlying their interactional positions and to begin to articulate them.
CLASSES FOR DATING COUPLES
Lifetime partnership is choosing "your eating companion for about 20,000 meals, your travel companion for about 100 vacations, your primary leisure time and retirement friend, your career therapist, and someone whose day you'll hear about 18,000 times." (Huffington Post 2014).
This class will teach you how to:
Ask the right questions to inspire meaningful conversation.
Analyze your partner's level of conscientiousness.
Judge character based on compatibility, relationships skills, friends, and patterns from family and previous relationships.
Resolve your own emotional baggage.
Open your eyes to problems in the relationship.
Identify and break destructive dating patterns.
Previously called How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk(ette), this course and its author (Dr. John Van Epp) have been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, Psychology Today, O Magazine, and Cosmopolitan...just sayin'. But does this program work?
P.I.C.K. a Partner (10 hour commitment): Must be 18 to register. Nonrefundable payment must be made in full at time of registration.
CLASSES FOR COMMITTED AND MARRIED COUPLES
Keeping your love strong requires ongoing communication and thoughtful consideration of your relationship. At the heart of every vibrant relationship is a strong attachment. A couple who still feels “in love” after years together is unsinkable in the waves of life. In the L.I.N.K.S. Program (Lasting Intimacy through Nurturing Knowledge & Skills), you will gain skills for communication, conflict resolution, forgiveness and rebuilding trust, identifying and satisfying personal needs, constructing a marriage story, and growing sexually.
Couple L.I.N.K.S. (10 hour commitment): Couples are highly encouraged to attend this workshop together. Nonrefundable payment must be made in full at time of registration.
WHEN ONE OF YOU WANTS TO END IT
Discernment Counseling was designed to work when one spouse wants to work on the relationship while the other is seriously considering breaking up. The goal of Discernment Counseling is to determine the future of the relationship by clarifying how the relationship got to this point and each partner’s contributions to the issues. The goal of Discernment Counseling is to make a decision to either keep the relationship as it is, to separate, or to commit to lengthier couples therapy with separation off the table. This third option may involve a healing or therapeutic separation.
WHEN THE DECISION IS MADE TO LEAVE
Unfortunately, some couples will decide to dissolve their partnership for a variety of reasons, and I have included some brief information on this, here.
I have also included information for those experiencing domestic violence and/or harassment, here.