Relationship and Couples Counseling

One thing is certain when if comes to relationship: if we want to exist with a certain amount of peace and happiness, we have to learn more about what it takes to inter-relate well.  This Relationship and Couples Counseling page corresponds to the First Aim of life, called dharma. For our purposes, we can think of dharma as the adherence to certain common sense observances that must be practiced in order to stay aligned with the Universal Order.   This is helpful when it comes to relationship and couples work, because having some Do’s and Don’ts for relating makes it easier when looking at our actual behavior, and how to make some concrete changes.  The more conscious we are in all our relationships, the smoother life can flow. That’s why we focus our First Aim on Relationships per se, as their importance is paramount in maintaining healthy, productive, and deeply satisfying lives.

 

Couples Counseling

Many people know that their primary intimate relationship needs a lot of time and energy, but few truly understand how and why relationships “go south” when not attended to. Has something slipped in your relationship? Do you fight too much, or not enough? Have you simply stopped connecting like you used to? Do you sense there is so much more to explore as a couple, but you have no idea what it could be or how to go about it?

Beginning with the premise that every relationship is a chance to actually focus on one’s own self growth and evolving consciousness, Kat helps couples enter a safe, non-judgmental space to examine the foundation of their relationship. We work together to discover and define your main relationship issues or themes, which come up again and again, and then Kat guides a process to help you begin making shifts in the way you relate, right there in the moment!  The goal is to determine how to make your relationship work for you!  As well, you’ll learn to create more space for your partner to come forth by quitting the Blame Game.  The sooner a couple can get over the need to only find fault with the other, the sooner each partner learns to “widen the lens” through which they are seeing their partner and the relationship. This will help you re-ignite the friendship that is the basis of your bond.

When trying to decide how to enter into Couples Counseling, here are some pointers.  First, it is so important that both people in the relationship feel comfortable with the counselor.  You should be able to sense that you can open up and not be judged, per se, for certain attitudes or wants.  You should also be prepared to be challenged, for it is in the field of relationship that we tend to carry our biggest blind spots.  Look for someone who can challenge you in a way that does not feel personal.  Second, know that it takes real commitment to the process of counseling to make real progress.  I have helped many couples stay together when one or both thought it was hopeless.  The couples who were willing to spend the time and money it took to make real attitude and behavioral changes, were the couples that got the most out of it.

Studies show that committing to either a series of weekly sessions, ideally for 1.25-1.5 hours per session, or doing Intensive Work (outlined below), brings the most positive  results.  If each person’s individual counselors are also brought into the process, the efficacy of Couples Counseling increases as well.

 

 

 

 

Couples Counseling

Tools that help couples learn new ways of being in relationship include:

  • The Emotionally Focused Connection, to up one’s emotional intelligence, and learn to feel-express-trust your own emotions, as well as receive your partner’s emotional truths and experiences
  • Raising your level of Differentiation: within highly charged or emotional situations, being able to stay true to and focused on your own experience without being pulled into your partners experience  or reactivity
  • Understanding and learning to work with your different Communication Styles
  • Building negotiation skills
  • Body-oriented exercises: to consciously sense what is happening internally, so that you can respond from a “I position,” which promotes a more fulfilling type of relating
  • Consciousness and control of the “4 Horseman of the Apocalypse:”  curtailing defensiveness and criticism; not engaging in contemptuous or stonewalling behavior (not going to the “cutoff”)
  • Developing the ability to stand in your partner’s shoes; to sense and feel what it must be like for them; developing compassion in the midst of your differences

All of the above can be addressed through “regular” couples sessions, lasting 1-1.5 hours.  While Kat prefers working over a series of five sessions, she is available on an “as needed” basis.

Intensive Work for Couples

Discovering One’s Relationship Story

Defining Differentiation

Deepening Intimacy and Sexuality

It’s important to look at the specific, important ways you’ve built your relationship, see what is not working, and learn tools to create lasting change in inter-relating. Kat helps you to clarify and understand your needs and expectations, look at your triggers, the way you defend, and the coping mechanisms that keep you cycling through negative experiences.

We uncover (subconscious) patterns from your Family of Origin that entrench you in rigid opinions about “what’s right,” and find the unkind thoughts that keep you from truly cherishing one another. We examine how relationships are defined by Power, and what to do about it.  We explore how humans in relationship are primarily emotional beings, and learn how to relate well to our own “emotional body,” so that we may be available to our partner’s emotions without being overwhelmed.

Some of the very “grown-up” subjects we tackle are:

  • Building a personal “container:” committing to a relationship with your Self, as well as the duo
  • Couples’ developmental cycles: understanding the normal flow of intimate relationship over time
  • Emotional expression: how to share your truest feelings without blaming or coercing your partner
  • Relationship deadeners–the sure-fire ways we douse love’s flame (including Gottmann’s “Four Horsemen”), and how to keep them at bay!
  • Differentiation: how to remain true to yourself when in a charged emotional situation
  • Understand how the Power dynamics show up in your relationship, and what needs to shift
  • Getting really real about sex; exploring and sharing your desires, fantasies, fears or frustrations

Intensive Couples Counseling can take a few different forms, such as coming together over a long weekend, or scheduling regular 2-3 hour sessions for a period of time.  We do this because there is a wisdom in the “no escape” scenario.  Being present in an intense way cuts through to what really matters: we stop posturing, stop trying to be “good,” stop lying, and we get right down to our authentic selves.  For special rates on Intensive work, please speak with Kat directly.

The Basics of Connecting

Enlivened, Aligned and Accountable

Working one-one one with Kat, over five 1.5-hour sessions.
Perfect for those in the early-to-mid stages of relationship, and for pre-marital concerns.

The time comes when every couple needs to understand and practice The Basics of Connecting, as there’s much to learn when it comes to relating beyond the first blush of romance, and staying connected, alive and on track.  First, there not only are tools but definite processes one can learn to become more aligned as a couple, and more available to self and partner. This is the major work of any relationship. Becoming a more compassionate, giving partner usually requires a radical shift in thinking and self-examination, and “upping” one’s emotional congruency and expression. These are practices that are not often taught, as our culture tends to neglect emotional expression and differentiation. Then there is the question of follow though: devising a way to check for accountability in relationship is almost as important as the tools practiced, so “Accountability check-ins” are included in the final session.