Couples Counseling

Co-create a connection you can depend on

Relationship means conflict. The more important the relationship, the more likely there will be disagreement and discord. This is because we bring a lot with us into serious relationships: we bring our hopes, wishes, dreams and desires; we bring our needs, expectations, beliefs and fears; we also bring our innate temperament, our culture and our identity. Add extended family, friends, children, financial/employment worries, socio-cultural pressures and physical/mental health concerns and it’s almost a miracle that two people can intimately co-exist much less create a supportive and mutually gratifying partnership.

This is where Couples Counseling comes in: to be a resource for couples in times of stress, crisis and/or desired growth. Sometimes the goal is to help an already strong relationship work through a difficult situation or frustrating conflict; sometimes the goal is to improve the quality of a strained connection so that the relationship can come to serve as a support and sanctuary for both partners. And sometimes the goal is to clarify the nature of the relationship and help the couple transition to the next stage, whatever that might be.

In Couples Counseling I work collaboratively with the couple to safely and compassionately examine the nature and quality of their connection. The quality of connection is primarily influenced by the emotional states of each partner and largely determines the tone and resiliency of the relationship. Therefore, it is crucial that couples therapy helps each partner express deeply held feelings and beliefs in ways that can be received and understood by the other. This smooths the way for healthier communication, which improves the quality of connection.

In working to facilitate more effective and meaningful communication, I strive to help the couple disrupt unhealthy cycles of interacting that leave them feeling bruised, lonely and/or antagonistic. I work to help each partner develop tailored skills for engaging in honest, respectful and mutually supportive communication, and I facilitate exploration into the deeper meanings and visions they each have about relationship.

Though relationship inherently brings conflict, it also obviously brings the promise of meeting many of our deepest needs and desires. I believe Couples Counseling provides an excellent opportunity for the relationship as well as each partner to strengthen, heal and grow. Depending on the intentions of my clients, I work with couples to:

  • Increase trust, respect, empathy and safety
  • Increase alliance and decrease polarization
  • Support the autonomy and personal needs of each partner while deepening intimacy between partners
  • More safely and productively explore issues that are a frequent source of miscommunication or conflict (such as money, sex, in-laws, differences in parenting approach, etc.)
  • Turn potential arguments into conversations
  • Learn how to repair and re-connect after an argument
  • Employ emotional adaptation skills to reduce the intensity of arguments
  • Address past wounds that have been contributing to discord in the relationship
  • Experience or re-discover the power of their loving connection
  • Deepen self-awareness, self-knowledge and self-acceptance in the context of intimate relationship
  • Explore the impact of substance use or mental health issues on the quality of their connection
  • Gain clarity about the nature of their connection
  • Help them transition into ending the relationship, a healthy divorce and/or a co-parenting relationship if so decided

Though we bring a lot with us into relationship, I believe that most significantly we bring the needs to be acknowledged, cared for, esteemed – to know that we matter deeply to someone we love and to feel securely connected to that person. Couple therapy can help each partner get more of their needs met while strengthening the security of the connection between them. I have specific training and experience in helping couples create closeness while supporting the individual voice of each partner.

If you are looking to strengthen the quality of your connection, reduce conflict or gain clarity about the state of your relationship, contact me to schedule a free 15-minute conversation.


To make an appointment or for more information please call 415.339.8335 in Marin or 707.583.2353 in Sonoma. Copyright 2011 Doug Silberstein, MFT. All rights reserved.