If a couple comes to us and asks about how we can help them, first I would want to know what the issues are that they are hoping to figure out in therapy.
Typically with couples it’s about intimacy and help with communication. A lot of times, they need to learn how to communicate in a more open and honest way. Sometimes, they just need insight into what has been creating the distance between them, and then sometimes it’s just about communication, and of course, sometimes it’s about sex and intimacy.
I try to help the couple identify and notice where their communication is falling short. I try to help them get out of their recurrent communication trap, which is when people are doing the same things over and over and it can feel like a trap and it’s not getting anywhere.
Because I have an expertise in substance abuse, a lot of times I am working with couples where one is an addict and the issues are addiction, codependency and enabling, which can also lead to emotional reactivity. Often times it’s about unhealed relationship wounds.
It’s really important when I work with couples that I actually get to know both of them individually. I don’t meet with them individually, but I do spend some time getting to know each member of the couple. This can sometimes help the other partner by just hearing the conversation. Then, we can dig into any old wounds, old trauma, or any old patterns of communication that might be affecting the current relationship.