Marriage Counseling

A rocky marriage filled with dramatic, emotional ups and downs, or one that is slowly and silently draining the vitality from your life and that of your relationship, or some combination of the two, can definitely be cause for concern. Some patients describe it as one of the worst experiences of their life.

Marriage problems that end in divorce are associated with the highest levels of stress a person can ever experience, just behind the death of a spouse. Married couples have a 50% chance of ending their relationships in divorce, and the demise of a marriage can do lasting damage to spouses, children, family, health, and finances.

Seemingly intractable problems like poor communication, infidelity, financial conflicts, substance abuse, anger issues, differences in child rearing styles, and sexual difficulties can lead to their undoing.

Solution? If you have even a partially willing spouse, try to work it out. The fact remains, we are attracted to each other based on conscious and unconscious wishes, desires and expectations. This is why we tend to repeat the bad marriage or relationship cycle even though we initially believe the new prospect is “different.” The internal models that dictate unhealthy relationships (and healthy ones), once identified by an experienced therapist, can be changed. So too can dysfunctional conscious behavior and communication styles. Even though it is most ideal when both couples are committed to making changes in the marriage, significant change can be made individually as well.

One goal of effective marital counseling is to bring life to the embers of love that were once a roaring fire. This can be achieved with guidance from an experienced therapist who can help interpret the underlying meaning of marital conflict while offering more appropriate coping and communication styles. Ultimately, this will set the stage for an infinitely happier and mutually satisfying relationship.

Relationship Counseling

Individuals caught up in this pattern experience great suffering often punctuated by periods of sometimes-euphoric joy. They long for intimacy with another person, but feel intense anxiety when they get too close to others. High conflict relationships are often associated with multiple conditions, and the individual has little insight as to the cause of their relational difficulties.

They struggle with anxiety, depression and anger, and have difficulty tolerating their own emotional experiences. Their emotions can be so intense that the person seeks to relieve themselves of the pressure by engaging in behavior that is often impulsive and self-defeating. These behaviors include bouts of heavy drinking and drug use, high-risk sexual behavior, reckless behavior (i.e. dangerous sports or reckless driving), excessive spending, angry confrontations with employers or co-workers, binge eating, and self-harm to name a few.

They tend to have an unclear view of their own identity and often experience a sense of inner emptiness and boredom. Such individuals can see themselves and others as either good or bad, and react very strongly to abandonment. They are often intelligent and can be socially engaging, loving, and generous, but when under stress can become volatile and unreasonable. These individuals long for stability but have a limited capacity to modulate powerful emotions. Childhood emotional, physical and sexual abuse can play a part, but not in all circumstances.

Chaotic Relationship

Good relationships involve people who are aware of their partner’s individual needs. When disagreements arise, they seek to accommodate and compromise in the interest of relational harmony. Relationships can be challenged when partners are unable to empathize with each other’s needs and therefore, have little incentive to compromise or accommodate. In some instances, the partner is not seen as a unique person and comes to represent family members. This unconscious equating of one’s partner with toxic family members creates an environment of animosity and conflict, wreaking emotional havoc and producing the feeling that one is always “wrong.” The origin of his dynamic is usually associated with the most problematic family member, which is then projected onto one’s partner.

Anger Management

While anger is a normal part of our repertoire of human emotions, anger is one of the “seven deadly sins” for good reason. Excessive anger is responsible for untold misery and has been the downfall of many decent people. Usually rationalized as warranted by the particular circumstance, excessive anger is associated with explosive verbal or behavioral outbursts that are frequently experienced as irresistible. Other times a burning, seething and ongoing experience of anger pervades one mood and is associated with irritability, biting comments and passive aggressive acts against others.

Angry outbursts are frequently experienced as automatic, thoughtless, and out of the person’s control. Physical corollaries to excessive anger can include – increased arousal and energy, decreased energy, agitation, heart palpitations, headache and stomach problems.

Substance abuse and other forms of self-medication are often used to regulate anger. The sense of relief commonly felt after an angry eruption can be quickly followed by anxiety, and sometimes, deep regret and remorse. Excessive anger can be self-reinforcing in that the person may feel powerless, but after an angry outburst, will temporarily feel a sense of power after getting their way in a given situation. Sooner or later, however, anger issues lead to increasing self-destructive behavior, and will seriously diminish any short-lived positive benefits.

Anger issues are driven by unconscious hurt, pain, and fear, and require open-minded, non-judgmental exploration and treatment of long standing feelings associated with loss of control and issues regulating emotional states.

Anxiety Treatment

For some people, what best describes their relationship with the world, themselves and others, is one of anxiety. Typically, such individuals have no idea that their daily life is enveloped in a state of global “free-floating” anxiety. This state is frequently described as the experience of being “nervous” all of the time. Individuals with generalized anxiety frequently may have unconscious fears that they will, in some way, do something to compromise their moral or ethical standards. Others fear the loss of someone important to them, and some have concerns about losing their sanity.

Such individuals have failed to develop sufficient coping mechanisms to deal with these anxieties. Most of the time, they are only aware of the anxiety and have no place to begin exploring. This is especially the case for those currently without major life stressors. This sense of being in constant danger from unknown forces, or the experience that their loved ones are similarly unsafe, takes a serious toll on one’s sense of personal, emotional, and physical health.

Teletherapy

Receive therapy from the comfort of home through our teletherapy services. Counseling sessions can be done over the phone, or through video conferencing. You still get the personalized care you deserve, but at a level you are comfortable with.

Depression Treatment

This particular way of relating to one’s self to the world is associated with regular feelings of sadness, self-criticism, and a need to be perfect. When faced with painful life problems such as being rejected or mistreated, these individuals feel that it must be their fault.

The underlying assumption is that when bad things happen, it is because they are bad or there must be something wrong with them. Their focus then shifts to trying to be what they think other people want them to be in the hopes that they will no longer feel that they are bad.

The self worth of such individuals is typically very low and they are highly affected by loss. Often, there is a vague sense of emptiness and a general feeling of inadequacy that shows little improvement irrespective of how much they do for others.

A similar form of depression involves strong reactions to losses or separation from important people. These individuals respond to separations with extreme anxiety and a deep sense of meaninglessness and incompleteness. They have great difficulty trusting that their relationship partner will be there for them and are also extremely self-critical.

People with these depressive styles are usually very nice people who often do a lot of good for their loved ones and those around them, but deep inside they believe they are fundamentally bad. This internal experience negatively affects relational intimacy because they fear that if someone really gets to know them, that person will find unacceptable qualities and ultimately reject them. Such individuals will often avoid potentially good relationships in order to avoid the terrible pain of abandonment, which results in a constant state of loneliness and depression.

Addiction / Substance Abuse

Addiction and substance abuse are symptoms that can become causes. Genetics play a role in both, but never outside the context of one’s environment and personal emotional orientation. An important aspect of addiction and substance abuse is the need to self-sooth alone. Even though the addictive behavior or substance abuse may occur in a social context, their use represents a private mechanism to deal with emotional pain and dysregulation within oneself without the benefit of someone who can actually help. This isolation and behavior, such as excessive shopping, eating, gambling, dangerous sports, etc., is frequently born out of early experiences where the individual learned that no one was available or able to provide the necessary emotional support that they needed at the time. They learned that they could alleviate their pain, at least temporarily, by themselves and therefore bypass the need for others and the massive disappointment associated with having needs. While this strategy can provide short-term relief, its long term consequences, unfortunately, can be devastating.

Sleep Disturbance

One of the most frustrating life experiences are those related to the inability to fall asleep in a reasonable amount of time, waking up multiple times per night and then being unable to fall back asleep, nightmares, or the need to sleep excessively.

Sleep issues manifest differently for every individual. They can be medical, substance related,  associated with major life stressors (trauma, death, etc.), or the result of long standing emotional factors that have not been properly addressed.

Sleep issues are associated with emotions such as helplessness, frustration, anxiety, anger and depression. Concentration is often compromised and mental confusion is common. Agitation, irritability and fatigue are also constant companions of the sleep deprived. Relationships also suffer, as others struggle to cope with their sleep deprived loved one.

Fortunately, most sleep difficulties are not tied to serious medical disorders and can be effectively treated by addressing the life stressors and emotional factors currently fueling sleeplessness. While uncomfortable and disconcerting, sleep issues should be viewed as important barometers of the state of one’s emotional health and, like any symptom, should be taken seriously. Proper diagnosis and therapeutic intervention focusing on emotional triggers can result in significant improvement, or complete elimination of chronic sleep problems.

Self-Destructive Life Patterns

When one talks about the self, we are actually referring to multiple aspects or dimensions of what appears to be one self –  the self you recognize in the mirror each morning. In actuality, we all have multiple selves. These selves generally work as a unit to address certain needs we have. For instance, we have an adult self that requires that we wake up in the morning to go to work, even when we are tired, and ensures that we maintain good judgment when our employer unfairly criticizes us or when an inconsiderate driver cuts us off. Generally, our adult self does their job with great efficiency and goes unnoticed. Problems arise, however, when our adult self is hijacked by parts of us that are much younger.

These younger, or more childish parts of ourselves, generally use the language of emotions or certain behaviors to make their presence known. These emotions are often expressed in inappropriate situations and times, resulting in behavior that is counter-productive. Examples of this might be inappropriately challenging one’s boss, acting out through road rage, or calling in sick for work because you are too “tired” (depressed) to go to work. These misunderstood and usually unrecognized infantile parts are at the core of self-destructive behavior and often go unseen until the damage is done. They may manifest themselves in clear self-sabotage through risky or addictive behavior, or may find more subtle expression in a pattern of relationship failures or job stagnation.

Career Consultation / Employment Related Difficulties

Very few choices will have a greater impact on your future and lifestyle than your career choices. Often, an employee’s performance on the job is a reflection of their personal life. Work-related problems such as absenteeism, lack of motivation, and negativity can be eliminated by offering employees a place to address personal issues before they escalate into serious workplace problems. Whether you are experiencing career dissatisfaction, looking for work, thinking of changing jobs, or feeling you are in the wrong industry entirely, career counseling can help give you insight into your particular circumstance and how to create a successful outcome.

Family Therapy

Our family influences the way we interact and communicate with others. Family Therapy is focused on each family member, both individually and as a group. Your specific treatment plan will depend on your family’s circumstance. The therapist reinforces the constructive aspects of a relationship, while at the same time, identifies the destructive elements of that relationship. Families can benefit from therapy when they experience stressful events that put a strain on other members such as job loss, divorce, substance abuse, depression, domestic violence, or even death of a loved one. With family therapy, there are many factors that have to be identified, interpreted and discussed in a safe and non-judgmental setting. Understanding each family member’s unique role, culture, beliefs, rituals, motivations and actions, as well as the actions of others, is part of the family therapeutic process.

As we learn to build on ways to cope and make useful changes in our relationships and our lives, family therapy is an effective way of addressing and understanding concerns that impact the family as a whole, ultimately helping you make the best choices for you and your family.

Common Difficulties Addressed
  • Parenting struggles
  • Marital/relationship difficulties
  • Financial hardship
  • Anger management
  • Substance abuse
  • Communication issues
  • Anxiety/Depression
  • Academic performance problems
  • Stress management
  • Work/life balance problems
  • Life transition issues
  • Grief, loss, bereavement
  • Extended family circumstances and difficult decisions
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a treatment that helps change potentially self-destructive behaviors including anxiety, depression, grief, eating disorders, sleep disturbance, life transitions and work-related difficulties by focusing on more adaptive ways of thinking, behaving, and communicating rather than on past experiences.

CBT is based on the concept that your thoughts, emotions, and actions are all interconnected, and that negative thoughts and feelings can be destructive. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps you become aware of your negative thinking, so you can address challenging life circumstances more clearly and respond to them effectively.

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