I was originally trained in Couples Counseling at Hahnemann University’s doctoral PsyD program in the 1980’s. I studied the Contextual Therapy work of Dr. Ivan Boszormenyi-Nagy and the strategic and solution focused approaches of Cloe Madanes, Jay Haley, Dr. Milton Erickson, and Dr. Virginia Satir. I then went on to become certified in Imago Relationship Therapy with Dr. Harville Hendrix. Over the years, I also have successfully incorporated hypnosis in my couples work.
My approach to couples counseling or couples therapy is solution focused. A big part of being effective as a couples therapist is to determine at the outset if we need to do couples counseling or divorce counseling. So, I assess each partner’s loyalty to the relationship and motivation to improve the relationship. We need to assess divided loyalties.
For a primary relationship to be healthy, partners need to have equal and reciprocal loyalty or value to each other however that loyalty is defined. Problems arise when loyalties are uneven and not reciprocated.
In a problematic relationship, loyalties are usually at odds. I assess how and to what extent loyalties are discrepant. Then I assess each partner’s commitment to repairing the relationship. If the partners do not have an equivalent degree of commitment, couples therapy is unlikely to be effective.
Once, each partner demonstrates adequate commitment, we begin working on recalling positive memories about each other and the relationship. This is where couples hypnosis comes into the work. Hypnosis also facilitates relaxation of each partners defenses. This is essential because at the outset of Couples Therapy, defensiveness is heightened. Couple relationship repair needs to be experienced as fun and as play. Of course, there is work involved. But if the repair process is too serious – that is, all work and no play, motivation to stick with the therapy is likely to become diminished. The relationship repair process needs to be a re-bonding experience so the partners create new positive memories together.
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