helps couples repair their obstacles to intimacy and create stronger, safer, more responsive connections.
What Can Couples Therapy Do for You?
Couples Therapy can help you and your partner sort out your problems and build a stronger relationship. Whether you are in the middle of a crisis, going through a difficult transition, or simply want to build a better, more intimate relationship, couples therapy can be a tremendous source of support and growth. Having a highly trained, objective third party helps you work through anger, resentment, hurt and disappointment. Seeing couples emerge from a difficult situation feeling more connected, intimate and committed than they ever thought possible is very gratifying.
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- Create a more secure connection, which makes it safer for your true self to be seen and heard, as well as restore trust that has been eroded.
- Develop a better repair mechanism to resolve old issues from the past and more effectively work out present or future issues.
- Expand your ability to positively nurture your relationship in a variety of ways (verbal/nonverbal/physically) and be a better friend and lover to your partner.
- Increase your ability to express your voice in the relationship, even when it feels risky.
Simply put, couples therapy can help make crystal clear:
- The kind of life and relationship you want to build together
- The kind of partner you aspire to be in order to build the kind of relationship you want to create
- Your individual blocks to becoming the kind of partner you want to be
- The skills, knowledge and emotional safety necessary to be successful in achieving and maintaining the above.
Why Couples Therapy?
Intimate relationships are challenging, especially with respect to sustaining intimacy over the long haul. Marital distress is the single most common reason people seek any type of therapy. It undermines family functioning and is strongly associated with depression, anxiety disorders and substance abuse. A strong couple relationship is one of the greatest gifts you can give your children and yourself. A warm intimate bond is a great source of happiness, personal security and satisfaction. Couples therapy is much more effective than individual therapy when the key presenting problem is focused on relationship distress.
How to Get the Most Out of Couples Therapy
Focus on Changing Yourself Rather Than Your Partner
Couples therapy works best if you have more goals for yourself than for your partner. The hardest part of couples therapy is accepting you will need to improve your response to a problem (how you think about it, feel about it, or what to do about it). Very few people want to focus on improving their own responses. It’s more common to build a strong case for why the other should do the improving. My job is to help you get comfortable with making positive changes that invite your partner to respond.You can’t change your partner. Your partner can’t change you. You definitely can influence each other. Becoming a more effective partner is the most powerful way to change a relationship.
Risks vs. Rewards
To create the relationship you really desire, there will be some difficult tradeoffs and tough choices for each person.
- TIME – It takes time to create a relationship that flourishes: time to be together, to play, to nurture, to hang out, to plan, to share with your family, and so on. This time will encroach on some other valuable areas of your personal or professional time, so be prepared. In all these areas, there is generally a conflict between short-term gratification and the long-term goal of creating a satisfying relationship.
- PRACTICE: The blunt reality is that, in an interdependent relationship, effort is required on the part of each person to make a sustained improvement. It is like pairs figure skating: one person cannot do most of the work and still create an exceptional team.
- ACTION – Change occurs faster when partners are prepared to take risks of trying to interact differently outside the session. Often it will feel safer to talk about the tough issues in the protected context of therapy. The more you are willing to use your new insights by putting them into action, the more rewarding the changes in your marital dance.
- INSIGHT: Effective change requires insight plus action. Insight without action is passivity. Action without insight is impulsivity. Insight plus action leads to clarity, kindness and effectiveness.
EMDR Therapy for Trauma
helps individuals and couples resolve trauma that blocks their current goals, jobs, social life or relationships.
What Can EMDR Do for Your Trauma?
Trauma Therapy is usually though not always brief and focused on relieving the symptoms of a trauma. Sometimes people realize they need trauma work when their individual or couples therapy is blocked or stuck and not progressing. Many trauma survivors continue to have symptoms long after trauma. These symptoms may include:
- “Reliving” the traumatic experience
- Feeling emotionally numb
- Avoiding things related to the trauma
- Anxiety and related body effects such as heavy breathing, sweating, shaking, etc.
- Intense, surprising, or angry reactions to ordinary situations
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Although I am familiar with a number of trauma treatments, I regularly use EMDR, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing for the rapid relief of traumatic experiences such as childhood injury and abuse, grief, anxiety, fire, accidents, fears and phobias.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a method of psychotherapy that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma. EMDR is a set of standardized protocols that incorporates elements from many different treatment approaches. To date, EMDR has helped an estimated two million people of all ages relieve many types of psychological stress, including anxiety, depression, alcohol or substance abuse and difficulties with an affair/s. It has been used extensively to to encourage peak performance in work. EMDR may be used within another therapy like couples therapy, coaching or individual therapy. I also do EMDR with people who have a relationship already with another therapist who is not trained in EMDR or as a treatment all by itself. After numerous rigorous studies EMDR was given formal provisional approval as an evidenced-based therapy for trauma and is included in the specific recommendations of the published guidelines for the treatment of PTSD of the National Institute for Clinical Excellence in conjunction with the National Health Service of England and Wales. For more information about EMDR, click here or email us at Carol@doctorcarol.com.
How long does it take?
Although there is a standard protocol for EMDR, the length of treatment varies depending on the severity of your trauma and how long ago it occurred and how frequently the trauma was repeated. A person who was repeatedly assaulted in childhood will take much longer (as much as 2 or more years) while an individual in surviving a car crash may take only a few sessions. In most cases in considerably shortens treatment for these kinds of intensely upsetting emotional blocks.
I request that we have one (or occasionally two) session/s to understand your history and background and familiarize you with the EMDR procedure. I then request you schedule a double session of 1½ hours to initiate the procedure. Based on your reaction we will schedule further sessions that will be either single or double sessions and either weekly or less frequently. EMDR does not have to occur weekly to be effective.
works with individual adults on problems that significantly affect their lives and block attaining important personal or professional goals.
What Kinds of Problems Do You Treat With Individual Therapy?
Some clients seek help for specific symptoms such as depression, anxiety, phobias and panic, eating disorders or substance abuse. Some struggle with adjustment problems following losses such as death, divorce, unemployment or illness. Others look for help sorting out troubling issues of ambivalence or dissatisfaction in facing life’s many choices. Still others seek help maintaining one important relationship.
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I combine the best aspects of attachment based, interpersonal, emotion focused and cognitive behavioral therapies. The therapy is focused more on the present than on a lengthy exploration of the past. It is important first to understand you in the context of your current developmental stage and early attachment history. Then, I try to quickly translate the important historical contributions as to how you may seem stuck in your life currently. Developing a clear vision of the kind of life and relationships you want to create is also a crucial step in focusing the goals of therapy.
Emphasis is placed on your internal experiences of feeling and thinking especially in the context of your interactions with others. Identifying core patterns or themes that contribute to self-defeating ways of thinking, feeling or behaving is the next stage in developing and practicing healthier alternatives to replace them.
Simply put, individual therapy can help you make clear:
- The vision of the kind of life and relationships you want to create
- The kind of person you want to be to build that life.
- Your individual blocks to becoming the kind of person you want to be
- The skills, knowledge, emotional safety and increased comfort with taking risks necessary to creating the life you want.
How Often Do I Need to Come to Therapy?
Most people come once a week for sessions that last 45 minutes. In some situations, it is more effective to meet more often at the outset. Some clients prefer double sessions weekly. The length of time in treatment varies according to the severity of the problem and the particular goals an individual wants to attain. This will be discussed at the initial visit. After the second visit we usually can decide together how long and how often you will want to come.
What if I Need Medication?
As a psychologist, I do not prescribe medication, but I have I close relationship with several excellent psychiatrists who are all well-trained and experienced in evaluating and prescribing psychopharmacological medications for depression, anxiety, panic, obsessive compulsive disorders, etc. This allows me to easily coordinate the management of medication with ongoing psychotherapy. If you are taking medication, or your prescription changes, you or your psychiatrist need to inform me of any and all prescribed medications and changes as they may significantly affect your mental status and therapy. It is also important that you are compliant with the course of treatment as prescribed by your physiciatrist. I will inform you if I feel medications will affect your treatment.
Would you like to make more money and work less? Start a new aspect of your life or business? I love coaching good therapists, coaches and counselors building their practices. Lately I have enjoyed coaching people who want to add an Internet aspect to their business.
Coaching is a step up. If you already like your life and are pretty happy but sense you want something more, coaching helps remove your obstacles to success. Coaching is a process for moving ahead and achieving more in your life. I work with some coaching clients over the telephone or by webcam if this seems useful in meeting your goals. I am associated with the Bridge Coaching Institute and direct their Laguna office.
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- Meeting every week or every other week, we first identify your goal, and the dream or passion fueling the goal. We examine the steps to your goal and any obstacles to success. We explore your specialties, focus, strengths and existing resources and networks available to meet that goal. Then we build a network of people to help you achieve their goal. We identify any training or marketing that would foster your passion and strengthen the network. We set financial goals and create affirmations. As they work toward your goals, we look at any blocks to receiving money for your work and/or issues that stop you from action. We create personal affirmations and learn to use them. We identify and initiate better habits for increasing the flow of money. How fun to share their enthusiasm and see the astonishment on your face as you meet and then exceed your goals in a few short months! Then we celebrate!