I specialize in work with relationship issues and have been immersed in helping couples for the past 10 years. Prior to starting my private practice in 1999 my background included crisis work and serving families.
I provide practical tools and strategies for helping both partners change their patterns of interacting with each other.
The intent of the type of therapy I provide is to stop unproductive behaviors and help people do things that will be more effective; I need to hear some about your past in order to orient myself, but I do not focus on the past and family histories as much as is typical in therapy.
Research in this field shows that people have usually been unhappy for 6-7 years before seeking out couples therapy, so we often begin with one or both people feeling tentative about what can be achieved. I support couples in taking an experimental, exploratory attitude to the counseling if that is what they need.
I routinely gather data on outcomes of my work and your satisfaction with the process; more important, I invite your feedback every step of the way. I get to know you as individuals and as a couple, your values and goals, your learning styles, your strengths and challenges. Because I have several decades of experience in this field, I can match my knowledge with your needs, and fill in the gaps in a way that is customized and satisfying for all of us.
When I start work with new clients, we build a collaborative relationship in the first few sessions; I gather information in order to understand your concerns and to develop some hypotheses about how change can best be achieved.
Contrary to the way therapy is portrayed in New Yorker cartoons and on TV shows, I engage in conversation with you and we are actively working on solutions. Couples do not waste time re-hashing last week’s fights in the office, since I do not act as a referee!
I’m calm, direct and honest. Clients remark on my ability to find words for thoughts and emotions they couldn’t quite articulate. I take problems seriously and yet I find maintaining a sense of humor is also important in helping people keep perspective.
Although I listen carefully, I give a lot of feedback; you will not experience me as a passive presence. I offer numerous educational materials and hand-outs, suggest resources and give you specific activities to try in the office and at home. I want you to keep the benefits of the therapy even after we complete our work.
Whatever the outcome of our sessions, the goal is for both people to feel they are acting in integrity and handling themselves and their emotions in a way that feels right to them.
Because of extensive training in research-based methods I have the tools get to the heart of the matter quickly. My background prior to private practice includes many years of crisis and hospital work; I know how to obtain results effectively and to work in an efficient and focused way.
I am certified as a Sex Therapist by the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT). People can speak frankly with me about the most intimate and sensitive details of their relationships, knowing that I have a great deal of clinical and life experience to guide me. I stay current with professional research and read voraciously.
Training at the Gottman Institute in Seattle was quite extensive, and I am fully-certified as a Gottman Institute Relationship Therapist.
I also draw on the work of Dan Wile, founder of Collaborative Couples Therapy and Brent Atkinson’s Pragmatic-Experiential Therapy.
In order to become Gottman-certified, I participated in extended, intensive trainings in Seattle with John and Julie Gottman: I experienced a 2 day workshop, followed by 4 days of advanced training, and then an additional 4 days of study on the most complex and challenging problems couples face. This was followed by 12 hours of individual consultation with a Senior Gottman therapist, reviewing case examples of my recorded work with couples in detail to demonstrate mastery in applying this method of therapy.
I also am authorized by the Gottman Institute to present their Art and Science of Love workshops for couples, and to provide professional training to other therapists. This therapeutic approach particularly appeals to me because I tend to be pragmatic and focused on getting results in my work. I’m an imaginative and curious person too, but most of all I want to know that I am offering you sound and effective help.
In addition to my professional training I have a long-standing meditation practice. I regard this is a philosophical underpinning of my work rather than a religion. I find this supports my therapy work, since the skills of proper breathing, sustained attention and concentration can improve anyone’s life.
To read more about my counseling style and my professional background in the Portland area, you can look at my previous primary website: click here.