Couples Therapy

San Francisco Couples Therapy

Do you have difficulty with the one you love? It can be so painful and a major damper on your happiness. You do the best you can, but it still doesn’t work out the way you’d hoped. You may find yourself anxiously trying to get it right. You may angrily protest the lack of connection. Or you may withdraw in silent resignation or even depression.

Unfortunately, most relationships go through rough times.  These struggles can bring out powerful, sometimes even overwhelming feelings and reactions. Paradoxically, because we care so much and the stakes are high, even the most skillful communicators can have trouble talking with their intimate partner.

Working on your relationship can feel so lonely. It’s easy to lose perspective and end up in the same unproductive patterns again and again.

For many of the couples I work with, counseling was the first time both partners felt confident to express how they experience the relationship – its strengths and difficulties. That by itself can be such a relief that many couples have more compassion for each other and for themselves right from the first session.

As therapy progresses, the following steps are typically part of couples therapy and marital counseling:
  • Establishing more trust and safety in the relationship during therapy and between sessions.
  • Reducing arguments by applying effective communication techniques.
  • Learning what you and your partner need to stay engaged and positive during stressful moments.
  • Understanding the dynamics of withdrawal and shut down that may happen between you and your partner.  This encourages developing together the right conditions to turn towards each other and engage more deeply.
  • Developing strategies to get on one team and establish together effective and healthy ways of communicating.
  • Using new understandings and insights about each other to discuss difficult issues you were unable to deal with in the past.

In my work with couples I primarily use Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) which gives structure and direction to couples therapy.  It is an approach to couples therapy that is sensitive to your individual needs and the specific challenges of your relationship. EFT is backed up by extensive research and proven to be a very reliable approach to couples counseling.

What if your partner is hesitant to try couples therapy?

It’s rare that both partners are equally motivated to try therapy.  Talking about your relationship can feel like unfamiliar territory.  When starting couples therapy it is understandable that some anxiety is mixed in with the hope for positive changes.

I offer 20-minute phone consultations at no charge for you and your partner to help you with your decision about starting therapy. We may discuss your goals and you can address any concerns and questions. I will also give you an idea of what it may take to work towards your goals.

To clarify your goals, I suggest that you and your partner take 15 minutes and slowly read through the list below. It contains potential benefits of couples therapy. Please do not feel limited to this list as you think about your goals.  I recommend taking some notes. You may choose to share your thoughts with your partner or not.

Depending on what you want to work on, couples counseling may have benefits such as:
  • Feeling connected and safe with each other even during conflict
  • Resolving fruitless arguments and endless fights
  • Healing from broken trust and dishonesty
  • Learning how to connect across differences due to culture, gender or family background
  • Making progress on stalled joint decisions
  • Knowing that your partner has your back and plays “on the same team”
  • Reducing stress and strain on your family
  • Practicing talking about “sensitive issues” and feeling closer afterwards
  • Rekindling the romantic spark and sexual attraction for each other
  • Participating with skill in each other’s quest for personal growth and fulfillment
  • Developing a vision of a future together that you can both be proud of

To schedule 20-minute phone consultations at no charge for you and your partner please contact me at 415.255.2517, or you can email me at dietmar@dietmarbrinkmann.com.  And let me know good times when I can reach you and I will return your call within 24 hours Monday – Friday.