The life of intimate couples involves an inherent paradox. Safe, intimate, and emotionally vibrant relationships are extremely important to realizing happiness, creativity, and intellectual potential. Unfortunately, as couples therapists know well, the opposite is also true; volatile, unstable, and emotionally threatening patterns between partners can be a major source of stress and unhappiness. Although couples who embark on therapy have often reached a high level of stress and frustration, they are also often exceptionally open to new ways to relate and communicate with one another. I feel privileged to meet couples at this critical point in their relationships, and intend to help them utilize this opportunity for maximal growth.
My work with couples is informed by attachment theory, psychoanalysis, and body-based approaches like Somatic Experiencing. Current neuroscience demonstrates that the human nervous system requires, a calm, well-regulated mode in order to learn and integrate new experiences, especially in the area of intimacy and emotional growth. Couples often come to therapy in a state of heightened defensiveness, when their fight-or-flight mechanisms are all mobilized. It is my primary intention to calm this state of chronic irritability and hypersensitivity. Each session, we start by bringing awareness to each other’s emotional and physical state and allowing this awareness to be present through the session; this supports a more regulated reflective and less reactive state. As each partner calms down and is able to step aside from their defensive patterns, it is possible for them to first listen and keep track of their own state changes. Here, they can find some safety and stability within their bodies and minds. Gradually, they become freer to experiment with risking greater intimacy, and often discover that they are able to receive and give love to each other more fully when present. An enhanced ability to self-regulate and avoid triggering each other enables a new openness to experiences and compassion towards each other in difficult moments.
My goal is for this capacity for love and compassion to become self-sustaining and self-amplifying, allowing the couple to continue to deepen their intimacy long after therapy has terminated.