Providing Support For The Many Stages Of Your Relationship
I understand the many changes and stages relationships go through. No matter what you are needing I am here to guide you and your partner with compassion and understanding. Many of the couples I work with can relate to one or more of the following-
- You are at the beginning stage of your relationship and would like to start it off in a positive and secure direction
- You feel like you and your partner are living together like roommates- distant and lonely
- You are interested in gaining more skills in communication & conflict resolution
- You would like support during a life transition (New job, child, city, marriage, loss)
- You or your partner experience anxiety, depression, PTSD, or other mental health issues
- You are having repeated arguments that are getting more heated
- You find yourself questioning whether you want to end the relationship
The quality of our relationships determines the quality of our lives.
As humans, the relationships we form with other people are vital to our mental and emotional well-being, and really, our survival. They have the power to both heal and injure. Supportive relationships can improve our confidence, create meaning, and improve our overall well-being. When relationships are in conflict it causes us distress and uncertainty. As a therapist, I believe human connection has the power to transform all aspects of our lives. When we feel secure, seen, and heard it gives us strength, confidence, and hope to overcome the obstacles in our life.
Compassionate Couples Counseling Tailored to Your Needs
You and your relationship are important! I understand what it’s like to feel distant and alone in a relationship. No matter the cause, I am here to support you and help you get to the root of what you are struggling with in your relationship. I can help you get unstuck from patterns that are repeating over and over- driving you and your partner to become silent, roommates with each other or argue frequently. I tailor my couples counseling services to the issues you are facing and help you reconnect and feel more secure in your relationship. I am a licensed counselor that specializes in couples counseling who is invested in you, your relationship, and your well being!
My approach is to help you and your partner understand and identify the cycle that you get into with each other, help you understand what your needs are and communicate them to your partner, and heal the pain that has been caused by past hurts providing relief and rebuilding your connection and trust in the relationship.
My primary approach to couples therapy is Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT) developed by Sue Johnson. EFT is based on the last 50 yrs of scientific research on bonding: bonding between mother and child and romantic bonds between partners. EFT provides a map to what matters in intimate relationships: how they work, how they go wrong, and what is needed to put them right.
Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy combines the following three areas of cutting-edge research:
- The first is neuroscience, the study of the human brain. Understanding how the brain works provides a physiological basis for understanding how people act and react within relationships. In a nutshell, some areas of your brain are wired to reduce threat and danger and seek security, while others are geared to establish mutuality and loving connection.
- The second is attachment theory, which explains the biological need to bond with others. Experiences in early relationships create a blueprint that informs the sense of safety and security you bring to adult relationships. Insecurities that have been carried through life can wreak havoc for a couple if these issues are not resolved. Attachment between people typically provides a safe haven: a retreat from the world and a way to obtain comfort, security and a buffer against stress. Attachment also offers a secure base, allowing you to feel safe while you explore the world and learn new information. Its formation begins in childhood with a primary caretaker, such as a parent. Those early, established patterns carry through to adulthood. An “unavailable caretaker” creates distress in a baby akin to an “unavailable partner” creating distress in an adult. Attachment theory provides the emotionally-focused therapist with a “road map” to the drama of distress, emotions, and needs between partners.
- The third area is the biology of human arousal—meaning the moment-to-moment ability to manage one’s energy, alertness, and readiness to engage.
Benefits of Couples Counseling with Carlene
In our work together, you will learn and experience how to-
- Affirm strengths in your relationship
- Address negative interaction patterns
- Understand more clearly each other’s emotions
- Recognize underlying reasons for your conflicts
- Learn how to repair and forgive
- Enhance your emotional and physical closeness
- Improve your communication
- Be more accessible, responsive and emotionally engaged with each other (A.R.E.)
I am here to provide a nonjudgmental space where both you and your partner can feel safe talking about what has been going on in your relationship. The process is collaborative- you and your partner help me understand what you are struggling with and what you would like instead. We look at the negative patterns that have developed between you all as the issue or “problem”. I am not here to take sides, but to have a fuller picture of what is happening for each of you internally. I believe each partner’s experience makes sense when we take the time to understand it. I help you understand why certain patterns or cycles have developed in your relationship based on your attachment patterns and life experiences. We get to know the cycle at a deeper level.
Most couples have arguments on a more superficial level. For example, say you have been arguing about who does the dishes. Many times the person who is tired of “always” having to do the dishes with complain to their partner about it in order to get their partner to do the dishes. Oftentimes, this causes their partner’s defenses to come up and resist what they are hearing. They may even say “You don’t always do the dishes. I help too when I can.” or “I try to help, but you always complain I don’t do it the right way”. In this they are arguing about the dishes themselves.
Usually, there is also a deeper or core level to the issue. In this case, it might be that the person is exhausted and needs a break. They feel like they are not important to their partner because they can’t see how tired they are and that they just need a little help. They feel alone in the relationship and like their needs don’t matter. These are the core needs that usually never get discussed.
When you work with me, we get to these issues so they can be understood and healed. Once, we fully understand what is going on and why then we can shift things in our relationship and make a change towards a more secure relationship. I want to help you make a change that lasts and give you tools so you can do this with your partner outside of the counseling room!
What is a Secure Relationship?
In a secure relationship, couples learn to express deep, underlying emotions from a place of vulnerability and ask for their needs to be met. Partners begin to view undesirable behaviors (i.e., shutting down or angry escalations) as “protests of disconnection.” Couples learn to be emotionally available, empathetic and engaged with each other, strengthening the attachment bond and safe haven between them.
Research in Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy shows the following:
- EFT is now considered one of the most (if not the most) empirically validated forms of couples therapy.
- 70-75 percent of couples move from distress to recovery. These couples report being much happier with each other (compared to 35 percent for cognitive-behavioral counseling)
- 90 percent of couples make significant improvements due to EFT
- Changes made are also quite stable and lasting, with little evidence of relapse back into distress and repairs are made more quickly
- It is also quite useful with diverse cultural groups throughout the world
- Distressed couples where one or both partners suffer from depression, anxiety, addiction, post-traumatic stress disorders, and chronic illness, among other disorders benefit from EFT
- EFT has proven to be a powerful approach for couples dealing with infidelity or other more traumatic incidents, both current and past
- EFT conforms to the “Gold” standard in terms of research validation and the standards set out for psychotherapy
Sue Johnson provides a summary of EFT in this video-
Carlene can help you create a secure relationship with your partner.
“The key to restoring connection is, first, interrupting and dismantling these destructive sequences and then actively constructing a more emotionally open and receptive way of interacting, one in which partners feel safe confiding their hidden fears and longings.” — Sue Johnson, PhD