Copyright © Iverson M. Eicken, Ph.D. Psychologist. All rights reserved.


Couples Counseling

(707) 775-5666

Relationships are at once the most rewarding, and the most difficult aspect of human experience.  When our relationship issues with significant others, family, children, and coworkers are going well we can enjoy a sense of well being, adventure, and belonging.  When relationships become troublesome or disappear we feel anxiety, stress, and depression.  Couples counseling can help

It is not my role to resolve a couple's problems or help them make decisions.  Rather, it is my goal to help couples develop a process that will always work for them in resolving issues.  My overall beliefs and approaches to the issues in couples counseling are discussed below.  After reading them, please visit my home page to find out more about me and my approach to therapy in general.  Couples of all cultures, and orientations are welcome in my practice.

Pre-Marriage Counseling

With the divorce rate remaining high, our economic futures somewhat uncertain, and the nature of "family" in a state of flux, it can be more difficult than ever to make decisions about becoming a committed couple.  Some couples find it useful to explore issues that may cause problems as their relationship evolves.  As we explore these difficult issues we also identify strengths that will help the couple resolve problems.  Pre-marriage or Pre-commitment often includes components of the "marriage counseling" process described below.

Couples/Marriage Counseling

I believe that the two main problems between members of a couple are 1) clashes in meaning, and 2) feeling "un-heard". 

Clashes in Meaning:  Each member of a couple brings a unique system of beliefs, traditions, and perspective to a couple.  The subtle meaning of very simple things can be different for each person.  When these meanings clash feelings are often hurt.  For example Partner A may retreat to a study after work to "protect" partner "B" from his/her frustration due to work or the commute.  Partner B may feel rejected, because Partner A does not want to share her/his feelings.  Being alone when arriving home from work has a different meaning for each partner.  Often uncovering these clashes in meaning is enough to allow couples to resolve many problems.

Feeling "un-heard" is another frequent source of conflict between for couples.  We are often so busy trying to get our own point across that we can't/don't take time to carefully listen to our loved ones.  This happens for many of reasons - most commonly the mistaken belief that if we really try to understand our partner's point of view it means that we have to agree with it.  Helping couples truly listen to each other is an important part of the counseling process.

Life Transitions are sure to happen and as the couple, or either member, encounters them the whole relationship must be re-worked.  If the relationship does not grow to accommodate life transitions it may collapse or stagnate.  Many couples learn to make these adjustments automatically.  When they don't counseling can help.

Exploring the Past:  While I sometimes explore family of origin issues, I find that it is most useful when it applies directly to a current problem.  It is sometimes useful to explore the present through the context of the past, because many of the feelings that come up with current issues are tied to old family problems.  However, I believe that in general couples are rarely served by making the past the focus of treatment.