Let’s repair your relationship and restore the bonds of intimacy.
“I’ve done a lot of personal therapy over the years and I rank my experience with Bill as the best.”
They can also produce excruciating sadness when they suffer conflict and neglect. I can help couples repair their relationships and restore their bonds of intimacy.
After working with more than a thousand couples as a licensed counselor and therapist in Berkeley, I have developed an open ended program that recognizes the uniqueness of each partner in a couple and respects and builds on the inherent strength that brought them together.
Over the past half-century, the Family Systems work of Virginia Satir in Palo Alto, California and further deepened by the study of redundant patterns of behavior that are specific to certain styles of family organization identified by Joan Herrick and Fred Ford in Berkeley, California have greatly influenced how I approach my therapy with couples.
In the beginning, I will often introduce Satir’s stances which describe how certain kinds of people respond to the threat—or imagined threat—of rejection or abandonment. These stances consist of both emotional and physical responses to situations in which persons feel compelled to protect his or her particular vulnerability.
One choice is to become a placater to avoid confrontation. This person gives up a part of their autonomy in order to create a semblance of peace. Yet this peace is neither deep nor lasting because it is built not on agreement but on supplication. It forgoes being directly assertive in the interest of your specific needs and so damages your self esteem.
Another choice is to become a Blamer who accuses others in order not to feel ‘weak’ but to feel strong and competent. So this person becomes a fault finder, a dictator, a boss who seems to be saying, “If it weren’t for you, everything would be all right.” This person doesn’t possess much self-esteem either. But the strategy is to get someone to obey you, then you feel you count for something.
A third stance is called the computer. This person on the surface is very correct in behavior, very reasonable and shows no semblance of feeling.
However, internally, he or she will be terrified of making a mistake. To do so would erode their inner sense of self esteem. Questions about how they are feeling will be usually met with puzzlement, “Why would I need to know that?”
The fourth stance is the distracter. This person’s words and behavior seem irrelevant to what anyone else is saying or doing. The loss of connection with or feeling in tune with others is profound. He or she will ignore questions or respond with a question totally off the topic. The internal feeling is one of dizziness, out of balance with one’s social environment. There may be a deep loneliness or purposelessness within self, but the strategy is to keep in moving constantly so you will not notice those feelings. The ‘self’ of self esteem is lost in the frenzy.
Of course, there are alternative ways of communicating with a partner—and that is what we develop in couples therapy. The irony is that we often can recognize another’s stance while being unaware of our own. So with couples I will ask them to make direct eye contact and practice listening to their partner’s words but also become aware of their own emotions as they speak. Are they being congruent, meaning is their outward expression in tune with what they are feeling inside? From these encounters, couples begin to get a deeper sense of who they are— as well as a better understanding of who this person they have chosen to be with is.
Couple therapy allows partners a space to confront their conflicts and emptiness openly and enhance their capacity for closeness. Call for an initial interview and we will explore together how best to bring new joy to your lives.
We may be in Berkeley but we meet in Zoom, so you can be anywhere!
The cost is $190 an hour