Life struggles can take our relationships off track, sometimes to the point of feeling stuck or fearful of conflict. Ruptures will happen in all relationships. Conflict is necessary to have real intimacy. But most of us were not shown by our parents how to do the repair and resolution needed for a relationship to grow and thrive. For people who have inherited intergenerational trauma, intimacy can be like extreme sports — requiring new skills, emotional first aid, and a solid support network. There are ways to feel more alive and connected in your relationship, to reunite as a team and to experience more love, intimacy, and pleasure. There are ways to restore the chemistry that attracted you in the beginning. It is possible to reconcile the tension between domesticity and passion.
I collaborate with couples to rebuild trust, limit negative patterns, understand desires, and explore new ways of interacting, verbally and non-verbally. In my work with couples and relationships, I combine my intersectional understanding of trauma with Emotionally Focused Therapy, which has shown high rates of recovery from relationship distress. I also draw from the Gottmans’ research on the antidotes to common problems (e.g., defensiveness, withdrawal, criticism, and contempt), and on what sustains relationships in the long term.
How I Work
To get us started, I begin with separate individual sessions to get to know each person before meeting with a couple or family. I find it crucial to first establish trust and understanding with each person to get to the roots of what is happening. We can discuss issues that feel the most urgent as we do the individual sessions and get started. I find that with this initial preparation, our joint sessions gain traction more rapidly and make more lasting change.
- Dealing with agreement violations, infidelity, emotional or sexual affairs
- Channelling jealousy into strength and security
- Rebuilding trust (for example, around text message and computer use)
- Resolving repeat arguments and deescalating distressing behaviours
- Reconnecting through emotional withdrawal and conflict avoidance
- Moving from blame to understanding, and from defensiveness to accountability
- Rekindling, exploring and expressing desires
- Creating shared dreams, traditions and goals
- Honoring family, community, cultural values and practices
- Negotiating support needs, boundaries, and power dynamics
- Interracial, intercultural, migrant and racialized relationships
- Queer, trans, and QTBIPOC relationships
- Supporting identity development and transitions
- Switching from monogamy to polyamory and vice versa
- Navigating parenthood, infertility, adoption, and fostering
- Understanding intergenerational trauma and oppression
- Clarifying commitments and agreements
What if my partner is not interested in couples counseling?
You are welcome to work with me individually to discuss how to develop a more secure and loving relationship. I have been able to improve relationships by working with one partner to understand their situation and communicate more effectively.