Relationship Counseling

Do you long to feel more loved and appreciated by your partner? Are you tired of the unproductive fights? Is the unhappiness causing the two of you to drift apart? Whether you are in a crisis from infidelity, suffering from chronic sexual dissatisfaction, fighting about money, kids, or household chores, couples counseling can help alleviate the pain and aloneness you may be experiencing.

Here are some of the relationship issues I help individuals and couples with:

  • Your partner is distant, withdrawn, or unemotional.
  • You have feelings that you seem unable to communicate to your partner.
  • Your partner seems chronically dissatisfied with you.
  • You and your partner have the same fight over and over.
  • You feel unable to get what you want from the relationship.
  • There is too little trust, and you feel like you're drifting apart.

Couples counseling will help you see where each of you is contributing to relational patterns that have created your current dilemmas and dissatisfactions.  Couples often respond to relationship stress in ways that are self-protective, but undermine the intimacy of the relationship.  In understanding your own contributions to your problems, you can change the relationship patterns that are keeping you and your partner from a marriage which is joyful, healthy and strong. In therapy, you will learn to:

  • identify the unproductive behaviors that undermine your relationship and learn which behaviors will lead you to greater authenticity, mutual respect and love.  
  • calm your own reactivity so that you can really listen to and know one another
  • communicate your honest desires in the relationship so that you may feel more known, satisfied, and loved.

Sexuality

Almost all couples deal with sexual issues at some point in the course of long-term relationships. Because sexual problems affect how people feel about themselves and each other, their existence can undermine the happiness and psychological safety of the relationship. This reality can also make it challenging for couples to turn sexual problems around on their own. Some of the concerns couples bring to therapy include:

  • Can I find greater sexual satisfaction in my relationship?
  • How can we better understand and effectively manage differences in desire between us?
  • How can I have greater self-confidence in the sexual realm?
  • How can I feel stronger desire and more emotional connection to my spouse through sex?

The solution lies not just in getting your body to do what you want it to do, but also in having a relationship that supports healthy sexual functioning.

I wrote my dissertation on sexuality and desire, looking specifically at the obstacles to women's desire, eroticism and pleasure in long-term relationships. I can help you through relational work and concurrent sex therapy to overcome the sexual challenges you and your partner face. You can find greater embodied pleasure and the deeply-felt satisfaction that comes through a passionate, monogamous relationship.


Depression

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The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that approximately 17 million American adults suffer from depression each year. Often called the "common-cold" of mental illness, depression is characterized by extreme sadness or feelings of despair. These feelings interfere with one's ability to engage in daily life—activities such as working, eating, sleeping, and interacting with others are difficult and often avoided. Depression keeps you from fully engaging in life and with those that you love, but it also deprives those close to you (e.g., your children and spouse) from the connection with you that they want and need. Sadly, those suffering with depression feel hopeless and overwhelmed while also feeling guilty and inadequate for not being able to overcome their depressed state on their own.

The good news is that much can be done about depression! In treatment, we can explore the psychological, behavioral, interpersonal and situational factors that may contribute to your depression. Difficult circumstances and habits of thinking about those circumstances may encourage or maintain your depression. Behavioral and relational habits can also sustain your depressive feelings. In our work together, you will learn new patterns of thinking and behaving that will open up possibilities for you and alleviate feelings of hopelessness, as well as improve mental and physical health. Beyond these interventions, we can also explore the possibility of medication to manage depressive symptoms enough to allow you to benefit from psychotherapy.


Women's Issues

I have a particular passion for helping women. I studied women's studies as an undergraduate and feminist-relational models of therapy in graduate school, have given college-campus workshops on the subjects of body image and eating disorders, and wrote my dissertation on sexual agency in women—looking particularly at women's comfort with erotic desire and pleasure. Consistently, my work with couples takes seriously women's relationships to themselves, and their often unmet desires in relationships. 

I treat the following issues often related to women's experience:

  • Low self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness
  • Poor body image and complicated relationship with food
  • Sexuality and sexual identity, including women's relationship to desire and pleasure.
  • Superwoman complex and perfectionism
  • Balancing traditional roles with ambitions.
  • Dissatisfaction in intimate relationships, in particular dissatisfactions related to shifting roles expectations between men and women.

Spirituality & Identity

Spirituality is about finding an inner compass that guides you and gives you strength. Identifying and trusting this source of wisdom is an important part of personal growth and maturity.

Spiritual strength comes in part through the process of clarifying your beliefs and values and having the courage to live by them. It often includes sorting through traditions and beliefs inherited from parents and teachers.  For all of us, spiritual growth includes finding direction, inspiration, and inner strength. This process is inherently connected to knowing and accepting ourselves as well as the increased ability to live with authenticity and integrity


Parenting

Do you have a difficult teenager or young child? Do you feel unclear about how and where to set limits, or how to respond to disobedience? Do you wonder how to teach your child healthy self-esteem in the face of their own limitations or struggles?

Parenting can be very challenging while truly rewarding work. It is nonetheless difficult when we feel overwhelmed by a child, uncertain about how to parent a difficult adolescent, or unfulfilled in our role as mother or father. These feelings can be even more pronounced when parenting a child with special needs.

Some of the issues I help parents with:

  • Helping parents reason through parenting challenges and find appropriate, productive responses
  • Helping parents increase their confidence in their role
  • Teaching parents how to create appropriate limits and tolerate their child's discomfort when he/she bumps up against a limit.
  • Teaching parents how to rear self-confident children
  • Helping parents of special needs children cope with the unique challenges associated with raising these special kids.