My Approach to Counseling for Relationship Problems

Feeling unhappy in your personal life and with your relationships can be a confusing and frustrating experience, especially if it’s been going on for a long time. My strength is in helping you identify and move beyond the core underlying issues that are keeping you stuck.

An important part of the healing process is uncovering the negative patterns of thinking, feeling, or behaving that are holding you back. If you are struggling with a current situation in your life, it is often because difficult experiences or traumas from the past are still affecting you and causing problems.

Sometimes, you may not even be aware of what is getting in your way. I use specific counseling techniques to help you identify your patterns and what is behind them. This does not mean trying to make sense of your whole childhood and digging up every bad thing that ever happened to you. We focus on what is relevant, with the goal of empowering you to live more fully in the present.

Changing the relationship you have with yourself is key to changing your relationships with others.

We are all shaped by our past experiences. Each of us develops strategies to cope with the world and relate to other people based on how we are treated by others and what we learn from our experiences. In other words, the way that you negotiate the outer world of relationships is governed by your inner world of beliefs, emotional responses, and strategies.

What if you were able to be free of the feelings and impulses that are negatively affecting your life? When you change your relationship with yourself, it is not just about getting better “control” over yourself, but actually releasing the burdens you carry so you don’t have to be in conflict with yourself or others anymore.

I use counseling techniques that go beyond just talk therapy to help you actually experience a shift in how you relate to yourself and others. The positive results of this process can include personal benefits such as:

You may also see benefits in your relationships, including:

The final piece of the puzzle is helping you develop new relationship skills. You may find that sometimes you just aren’t sure what to say to someone or how to say it. You know that the way you have been trying to communicate or manage a situation is not working, but you don’t know what else to do.

Good relationship skills give you the tools to develop healthier relationships.

You may not have learned good relationship skills. Most people have deficiencies in this area, whether due to a lack of good role models, or just bad habits developed over the years.

I enjoy helping people learn how to communicate more effectively, reduce and manage conflict, set appropriate boundaries with others, and speak up for what they need. With my approach, you can learn how to negotiate difficult conversations and communicate in ways that draw you closer to the other person rather than push you farther apart.

Counseling Techniques I Use

I draw from a number of techniques, integrating them in a way that makes sense for your unique situation.

Internal Family Systems (IFS) Therapy

IFS, created by Dr. Richard Schwartz, is one of the fastest growing therapy techniques. It is a unique approach that can very quickly and effectively help you identify your patterns, where they come from, and how they are impacting your life. Through IFS, you can gain greater understanding and compassion for all parts of yourself, and release old negative beliefs and behaviors that are no longer serving you.

IFS is a comprehensive and integrative approach with psychological, body-centered, and spiritual elements. It recognizes that each one of us has an inner core Self that is wise, peaceful, and compassionate. By helping you access this true self, you are able to bring more of these qualities into your every day life and your relationships with others. The result is more harmony in your “internal system,” which brings more fulfillment to your outer life.

Gestalt and Experiential Therapy

Gestalt Therapy and other experiential therapies focus on what is happening in the present moment, and emphasize the importance of your experience in the counseling process. Talking is helpful, but sometimes it is not enough just to talk about something. I find that clients make better progress when their attention is directed to what is really happening for them in the moment. This is where learning is most fruitful.

Couples and Marriage Therapy

I have a background in marriage and family systems therapy, and have studied various models of couples therapy. The two that I draw from the most are Dan Wile’s Collaborative Couples Therapy and Susan Johnson’s Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy. Both of these methods are very effective at getting to the heart of the matter very quickly, and provide some of the best long-term results for couples. I also utilize principles of John Gottman’s extensive research on healthy couples.

Contact me today at (503) 347-4863 or email me to schedule a counseling session or to set up a FREE phone consultation.

Office located in Portland, Oregon. Serving the Portland metro area, including Beaverton, Hillsboro, Lake Oswego, Tigard, West Linn, Milwaukie, Clackamas, Oregon City, Tualatin, Gresham, and Vancouver, WA.

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