Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made. Robert Browning
The Marriage Vision
"You & Me", Wrinkled and Gray, Sitting in Our Rocking Chairs on the Front Porch, Having Weathered Life, More in Love than Ever
I believe in marriage and it's my passion to help couples build a strong bond of connection so that their relationship thrives. I know of no other relationship that is more of a crucible than marriage. When two individuals bring their unique personalities, preferences, & history together, sparks are destined to fly as the two decide how to navigate the path of oneness in direction and purpose. As a diamond formed under pressure, so is the potential of a beautiful marriage that is shaped by pressure in the clash and reconciliation of wills.
Since my goal has been to become a couple's therapist of excellence, I am continually seeking out training in the most effective couple's therapies available, and absorbing knowledge through studying and attending workshops on building intimacy in addition to specific relationship challenges. I have been trained as an Emotionally Focused Couple's Therapist, a Gottman Level 2 Couple's Therapist, and as a Level 1 Restoration Therapist. While my faith as a Christian informs my relationship counseling, I find that the skills I've gained from my secular training, to be very powerful in working with couples to develop healthier ways of communicating. In addition, couples learn how to stop relational patterns of conflict, and create a safe environment so that each partner to has the freedom to be authentic in each other's presence.
Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy
I use EFT to help my couples identify their conflict cycle. Many couples experience arguments which tend to go round and round, leaving them both feeling discouraged and disconnected. When each partner feels safe enough to be vulnerable and explore the underlying emotions that prompt their behavior, then both begin to see how their reactions trigger the other person’s emotional and behavioral responses. As one partner’s emotional reactions are relived in the presence of the other, the listening partner begins to feel "with" the sharing partner. This newfound empathy becomes foundational in recreating a bond that will carry the couple through future difficulties.
Gottman Couples Therapy
Gottman therapy is based on long term couple’s research regarding the question, “What are the predictors of marriage satisfaction versus the predictors of divorce?” Gottman found that successful couples (the Masters) were responsive to one another’s bids for connection throughout their day-to-day interactions. They also had a strong foundational friendship, and made frequent repair attempts when they were at odds with one another. They habitually showed fondness and appreciation for each other. Gottman noted that those who ended up divorcing (the Disasters) exhibited four behaviors he called the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Criticism, Defensiveness, Stonewalling, and Contempt. I use many Gottman exercises as I instruct my couples in the tools, having them practice the skills while coaching them. These skills are useful for enhancing the friendship foundation of the marriage, as well as applying communication strategies for combating the 4 Horsemen and handling conflict. I also use the Gottman Relationship Check Up, which is an on line inventory that helps identify the areas of marriage which need the most attention.
This is a therapy I recently added to my counseling tool belt. The premise is that everyone has a pain cycle they have had throughout their lives. With every personal encounter, there are the underlying questions of “Am I loved?” and “Am I safe?” These automatic emotions show up in how one feels about themselves and in their trust level of others. Individuals learn to deal with these painful emotions by unhealthy coping strategies categorized by blame, shame,performance, and escape. Much like EFT, the pain cycle emotions of one partner prompt unhealthy coping strategies which in turn trigger the pain cycle of the other partner. Rather than focusing on healing the triggering emotions through the partner, Restoration Therapy focuses on assisting the individual to internalize truth about worth and trustworthiness. As the individual internalizes truth about acceptance and safety, the painful emotions are diminished, helping their behavior become more responsive rather than reactive. The Pain Cycle is then replaced by the Peace Cycle.