My General Approach

The Work

My primary approach to couples work is EFT, which stands for Emotionally Focused Therapy.  This approach was developed by Dr. Sue Johnson of Ottawa, Canada.  Because EFT is central to my work, I devote a page to it here.   I also “borrow” many ideas and techniques from other schools of couples therapy, and I talk about these other influences and my general views on couples therapy on this page.

When working with couples I am “couple centered” rather than “individual centered.”  This doesn’t mean I won’t explore individual issues in couples therapy, but my only motivation in exploring individual issues is how they effect the partnership, and my goal is always to resolve those individual issues to move the partnership forward.

The usual rules of therapist-client confidentiality are  expanded in couples therapy.  My view is that the “couple” is the client, and so I do not keep “secrets” for one partner.  Whatever you tell me, I can – and probably will –  tell your partner at some time.  My job is to find the right time to tell things to your partner.  I do this by creating the necessary conditions of safety for your partner to know you.  After all, your goal is to know each other.  That is a core aspect of intimacy.  My work with couples is quite practical. We will address:

  • Teaching you a new standard of communication with your partner
  • Addressing the painful distance that comes when you and your partner don’t connect
  • Giving you both an understanding about your particular  “cycle of escalation and distance”
  • De-escalation skills
  • How you each can get more of what you want for yourself
  • How you each can get more of what you want for your relationship
  • For some couples, deepening sexual and erotic intimacy
  • Motivating you to be the best partner you can be
  • Getting you to a deeper level of understanding than “we’re having an argument about how to fix the refrigerator” or “He wants too much/too little attention.”
  • For some couples, gaining an understanding of what joint inner financial health means, and resolving unconscious money scripts that influence their relationship.

Advanced Training I Have Done (but not certification)

  • Gottman Couples Therapist Level II
  • Imago Couples Therapist Level II
  • EFT Couples Therapist Core Level III

My Influences

Couples therapy has evolved over the last thirty years, and so has my practice.

  • My first influences were such classical thinkers in the field as John Bowlby, Harry Stack Sullivan,  Bowen, Alex Haley, and Virginia Satir.
  • Then I was attracted to Imago Therapy, which was developed by Harville Hendrix and Kelly Hunt. So I took workshops from Harville Hendrix, and their senior trainers.
  • Over the years I’ve learned a lot from the writings of David Schnarch (Passionate Marriage).
  • Then I discovered Ellen Bader’s book – In Quest of the Mythical Mate. So I took seminars from Ellyn.
  • For financial issues,  the father-son team of Brad and Ted Klontz have been a big influence.
  • Nobody has done as much long-term and intensive research on couples as  John and Julie Gottman  – so I took workshops from John and Julie.
  • For five years now I’ve been an EFT therapist.  I have taken many workshops given by Sue Johnson, the founder of Emotionally Focused Therapy.  I’ve also  taken workshops and done extensive one-on-one consultation with some of her senior trainers.  
  • EFT was developed for couples but is now also used in individual therapy.
  • To learn more about EFT, click here.

While I work squarely within the EFT model, my work draws on theories, strategies, and skills from all these sources. The amount of research done on couples therapy in the last three decades is truly outstanding, and the result has been a dramatic improvement in the services we can deliver.  Once thought of as “the last stop before divorce” couples therapy has changed dramatically.  Now, it typically has very good outcomes. This is not your parent’s couples therapy.