Couples Therapy

Couples therapy is just as its name suggests: I provide therapy for you and a partner, together, with both of you usually in the room with me together, and with our focus on your relationship.  The unit we are addressing in couples therapy is the relationship.

Couples come into therapy with different goals.  Usually, but not always, the overarching goal is to improve the relationship.  Typically there has been too much fighting, or too much distance, or both.  Something very damaging may have happened, or maybe the trouble has unfolded gradually, over time.  You’re looking to improve things and get to a more harmonious and loving relationship.

Sometimes couples seek therapy because they are not sure about the relationship, and want to figure it out together.  Or they may have decided to split up and want to manage the difficult process of ending things.  Therapy can also be helpful to couples who are no longer together but wish to maintain an amicable or functional relationship over time; this kind of therapy can especially help ex-couples who wish to effectively co-parent together.  In all cases, I work from within the overarching goal you’ve established.  That is, I never tell a couple that wants to be together to split up, just as I do not tell a couple that wants to split up to stay together.  Those are your decisions and yours alone, not mine.

Sessions typically vary in length, depending on preference and need; they are commonly for 50 or 80 minutes, and typically once or twice a week, though this can vary.  As with individual therapy, couples therapy can be for just a few sessions, or a few months, or longer and ongoing.  Much depends on the kinds of problems you are experiencing, and the kinds of help you desire.

As with individual therapy, my initial goal is to create a safe space so that you can feel comfortable and, when you are ready, open up about the things you wish to discuss or work out.

Couples therapy is usually more structured than individual therapy, partly because there are two people in the room with me, with potentially divergent perspectives.  How much structure depends on the couple and the situation.  Similarly, the role of the therapist is usually more directive in couples therapy, though this too can vary with the couple and the particular moment in therapy.

Couples therapy often focuses on the cycles of conflict and patterns of distancing that affect the relationship.  We pay special attention to the ways in which emotions drive these cycles and patterns.  For this I enlist elements from the two leading emotion-focused approaches in couples therapy: Emotion-Focused Couples Therapy (EFT) and the Gottman Method.

As with individual therapy, there is no single trajectory in couples therapy, since all couples are different.  We usually begin by assessing the problems and goals you have; then we begin to work through them.   We try to: analyze and gradually diminish the prevalence of negative interactions within the relationship; analyze and reinforce already established modes of positive interaction; and explore, create, and practice at new modes of positive interaction.


1230 Rosecrans Ave Suite 300
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
(424) 248-7288

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