Couples & Relationship Counseling
EMOTIONALLY FOCUSED THERAPY (EFT)
I’m not going to sugar-coat it: conflict is inevitable in relationships. While conflict can seem like all it does is tear us apart, when used effectively, conflict can actually make relationships stronger by motivating us to build our communication skills & learn more about our partners on a deeper level. In this way, intimate partnerships have the capacity to help us heal from past unhealthy relationships in which conflict may have been either avoided, feared, or used as an excuse to behave disrespectfully. Learning new approaches for effective conflict resolution not only can heal past relationship trauma but also shapes a relationship to serve as a more secure resource to carry us safely through to the other side of stressful life events and to celebrate together life accomplishments for which it may not have been possible to achieve alone.
To support couples & poly relationships with learning more effective skills for conflict resolution, I use a unique & clinically-proven approach called Emotionally-Focused Therapy (EFT). Developed by Dr. Sue Johnson, EFT concentrates on developing stronger, more trusting bonds between people by teaching more effective communication skills for conflict resolution & providing time & space to practice these new skills in the therapy office. In this regard, the EFT couples counselor serves as somewhat of a referee, helping couples to understand & manage strong emotions, such as anger, fear, & anxiety, in the moment they arise during the therapy session. This serves as not only a great tool to learn more about ourselves, but the unique ways our partner(s) express these similar strong emotions as well, especially because the majority of our emotional expression is nonverbal through facial expression, body language, & reading between the lines. The EFT couples counselor also observes the usual step-by-step process behind conflict between partners during the session & reflects back this cycle (AKA “the negative cycle”), collaborating with the couple to see how this pattern translates to other conflicts that occur within the relationship. Framing this general pattern as “the negative cycle” helps to decrease blame & guilt within the partnership & empowers couples to understand how each contributes to this pattern in order to learn new strategies for long-lasting change in conflict resolution.
LGBTQ+ COUPLES & RELATIONSHIPS
Today, LGBTQ+ couples & relationships face unique challenges with blazing the trail to define their own guidelines of their relationships, since we do not have many role models for what a healthy LGBTQ+ relationship looks like, especially for Queer People of Color (QPOC) & Queer Trans People of Color (QTPOC), LGBTQ+ immigrants both documented & not, physically and/or mentally disabled LGBTQ+ people, and/or LGBTQ+ people living with HIV. While the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in 2015 to recognize marriage between any two legal gender identities was a positive step towards equality, it did not wave a magic wand to resolve the many stressors still faced by couples in the LGBTQ+ community. For example, LGBTQ+ couples may still endure various forms of discrimination from their families of origin, including pressure to keep their relationships private from particular family members in order to prevent becoming ostracized or estranged. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community with a wealth of experience working with LGBTQ+ couples & relationships, I strive to support LGBTQ+ couples with navigating these extra stressors in order to develop more secure & positive connections, healthier sex lives, & more power to serve as solid resources in their community for other LGBTQ+ people who may be needing extra support as well.