How do I know if you are the right therapist for me?
The first thing that you need to know about me is that I am passionate about this work. I am straight forward and honest with my clients and I'm fairly active in sessions, which means I am giving you feedback, offering suggestions, and actively reflecting on our process. I strongly believe that a good fit is important in therapy and I strive to give you as much information prior to our first meeting so that we can be pretty sure we will do great work together. And yet, the first meeing with any therapist is bound to be somewhat scary. You are taking a risk just by coming in the door - and I acknowledge and applaud you for that. With all that said, I believe that the best way for most people to tell if they should move forward with a particular therapist is to trust their gut. If after reading over this website and talking with me by phone, you are still curious about working with me, chances are, we've got a good fit and we shouldn't wait a moment more to start our work. If ever during the course of therapy either one of us feels it is not working out, we will discuss it and I will be happy to refer you to some other therapists in our community.
I am feeling desperate for something to change in my relationship and I am contemplating divorce. Can you save my marriage?
If you are asking if I believe that relationships can work even when they seem to be crumbling, the answer is yes. As long as you and your partner are willing and wanting the relationship to survive, I am committed to helping you repair, strengthen and heal your connection. I will also work with couples to help determine what their goals for therapy are, if one or both partners are unsure. If one or both members of a couple have decided that they no longer want to work on the relationship and are not committed to growth with their partner, then the goals of therapy change. I will continue to work with any couple for as long as they need, to accomplish their goals, gain clarity about what they want for their relationship, and move forward in the most honoring way possible.
We are expecting a new baby or just had a baby and are struggling with the stress of this transition, do you recommend individual or couple's counseling?
You are so wise to get support during this transition. Whether you do individual therapy or couples therapy or both depends mostly on your goals. If your desire is to focus on your relationship and your changing identity as you become parents together, then I would recommend couples work. If the goal is to get support for one partner in the relationship, so that they can better express their feelings and needs and communiate them, or have a safe place to explore the overwhelming feelings that come with this transition, then individual therapy might be the place to start. If both of these needs are pressing, I would recommend finding two (or even three!) therapists so that you can do individual therapy and couples work with seperate people. I am happy to talk with you and give you referrals and/or help you determine what type of support would be most helpful.
What will our first session with you be like?
Beginning therapy is beginning a relationship, and each one of us starts relationships differently. So there is no one way to begin. However, the first task we have when starting our work together is building trust and safety between us. For some this happens quickly and for others it can take more time. It is important not to rush this part of the process because the rest of our work together depends upon it. Over the course of developing trust, I will typically ask to get a fairly complete history (of each partner if you are a couple) and make sure I have a clear understanding of your goals for therapy and the concerns that have brought you in. To prepare for your first session you can print and complete the paperwork (which you can find HERE) and bring it with you. You may also want to reflect on what your hopes are for therapy and what your fears or apprehensions are.
What approach do you use for couples therapy? Is it effective? Are there any books or resources you recommend?
I use a model called Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) with couples. EFT is a structured approach to couples therapy that was develped by Sue Johnson and Les Greenberg in the 1980's. The model has been extensively researched and continually revised in response to efficacy studies and new research in the area of adult attachment and bonding as well as neurobiology. A substantial body of research outlining the effectiveness of EFT now exists. Research studies find that 70-75% of couples treated with EFT move from distress to recovery and approximately 90% show significant improvements. EFT has been shown to be effective with a wide range of couples including those where depression, post traumatic stress disorders and chronic illness are a factor. To find out more about EFT I recommend reading Sue Johnson's book, "Hold Me Tight." To read more about the reasearch on EFT, take a look at http://www.iceeft.com.
Training in EFT is structured and very involved. I have completed a 30 hour (4 day externship), 60 hours of core skills training (8 days), several other advanced trainings, and over 30 hours of individual consultation with a certified EFT supervisor, directly focused on my work with couples using the EFT model. I hope to soon be certified as an EFT couples therapist and eventually as an EFT Supervisor.
I have some past trauma that is interfering with my ability to find the right relationship or maintain my current relationship, what do you recommend?
In most cases, I would recommend starting with some individual therapy to explore your trauma and your stuck patterns around relationships. I am trained in a type of therapy called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). EMDR is very effective in processing past traumas and helping people let go of firmly held beliefs or fears that no longer serve them. I'd be happy to talk more with you about EMDR or point you to additional resources. Once you have done some individual work, it is possible to do some powerful work with your partner. Either to help educate him or her about how your trauma impacts you in the relationship, or to work through particular dynamics your relationship.
My partner and I aren't married or engaged, but are trying to figure out where our relationship is going. Is couples therapy right for us?
Absolutely. I work with any couple in a committed relationship--whether you plan to marry or not. Doing relationship therapy is a powerful way to explore your own "stuff" that comes up when you face attachment, commitment, and vulnerability.
My partner and I are experiencing physical violence in our relationship, are you the right therapist for us?
No. I don't work with couples where physical violence is a factor. There needs to be safety within a relationship in order to be vulnerable with each other during couples work.
Do you work with sexual issues?
Of course sex and sexuality are an important part of couples work. I work with most common intimacy and sexual issues affecting individuals and couples, however, I am not a sex therapist. If there is a particular sexual issue that would be the focus of your work, I can help you find a specialist in this area.