Marital Therapy at The Intimacy Center
We believe that marriage is the most difficult relationship but is also the relationship with the greatest potential for love, belonging, and deep attachment. Every couple begins a relationship with the experience of love and great hope for the future. But when we receive a call from a couple, the couple is usually in a crisis and in significant trouble. The couple has tried all they know how to do to turn the relationship around but, rather than progress, the relationship has become more deeply entrenched in painful patterns.
We believe in getting to know a couple well before intervening. Our assessment and treatment planning process typically has four steps:
1. A conjoint session in which we can clarify the relationship problems and assess the couple’s communication patterns via having the couple discuss a problematic issue.
2. Three written questionnaires completed at home and mailed in: a questionnaire to identify treatment goals and family background, a personality test (Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory III), and a set of marriage checklists to assess the marital relationship.
4. A conjoint session in which the therapist presents a treatment plan based on the assessment process.
At The Intimacy Center we attempt to apply the theories and marital techniques which have been most strongly validated through research. We believe that John Gottman’s research on marriage provides the most reliable way to assess the crucial components of a marital relationship: the marital friendship, how the couple deals with problematic issues, and shared values in the relationship. We primarily use Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) techniques based on the research of Susan Johnson. The first step in EFT is to clarify the dysfunctional patterns of relating within the marital relationship, that is, the “marital dance.” EFT also involves helping the couple to identify the deeper emotional states that are triggering the “dance.” Once a couple begins to be aware of the deeper feelings they are then able to identify the needs beneath those feelings. Then EFT empowers the couple to express those feelings and needs in a manner that is not threatening to the partner. Once a couple is able to discuss their deeper needs in such a manner they find that they are able to successfully address a myriad of issues on which they previously were stuck.
It is common that as a couple addresses the emotional aspects of their relationship that issues regarding the sexual relationship emerge. We help couples apply these same skills to discussing and improving their sexual relationship.