find therapist for relationship issues in portland, Oregon
Marriage, Relationship & Couples Counseling
I provide couples counseling, and I’m based in Portland, Oregon.
I became interested in couples counseling after witnessing how unsatisfactory relationships negatively impact mental health and ultimately reduce quality of life. Almost every client who seeks counseling for anxiety and depression typically feels unsafe or insecure in their relationships; or, has had difficulty finding partners to meet their needs and accept them for who they are. Unsatisfactory relationships are painful because we all need others for survival, safety, and joy.
People thrive in secure and loving partnerships! As a helping professional and a human, I believe in the healing power of connection. One of my roles as a relationship counselor is to listen, understand, validate, create awareness, encourage self-compassion, and help couples develop new skills and behaviors. I engage in empathetic dialogues with my clients to understand each person deeply. My approach in listening carefully and attuning to my clients, creates a trusting and compassionate connection that is essential for healing.
Poor communication is the number one reason couples seek marriage counseling
How often have you shared something emotional and vulnerable and felt frustrated, sad, or lonely because your partner didn’t listen or misunderstood you?
I have experienced this in my own relationships and am guilty of doing the same. I learned through my training that having intentional dialogues at the right time and with the right objective is a skill that can be developed and sustained for life! For example, I invested in my relationship to become a better communicator and sensitive partner by attending a ‘Getting the Love You Want Workshop’, which was facilitated by Master Imago Trainer Maya Kollman and her partner, Barbara. Maya and Barbara have been together for 40 years and have been providing Imago Relationship Therapy and facilitating Imago workshops for couples for thirty years. After completing the workshop, my relationship grew stronger. I learned new relationship skills, identified, and processed my childhood wounds and through the Imago exercises, I was able to identify deep hurts that were manifesting in the present and jeopardizing my connection with my partner. Consequently, I became passionate about learning Imago Relationship Therapy and enrolled in Imago Clinical training.
Imago Relationship Therapy
Imago’s theory proposes a cyclical framework for all relationships. It asserts, for example, that romantic love lasts a mere 18 months; this is the initial period of a new relationship that is full of excitement, passion, and joyful connection. During this romantic phase, partners are fully invested in their relationships, show up for each other and bring out their best. This is a beautiful time, and such a deep and rewarding connection with another human makes us feel safe, seen, and excited. We feel complete and alive!
However, over time, couples enter a new stage called the “power struggle”; this emerges as “romantic love” naturally fades, and conflicts begin. Around this time, couples start to notice their differences and have arguments. Our partner’s qualities, which we initially found charming and appealing, suddenly become annoying or disappointing.
In my practice, I often see couples who have been together for three years or longer and seek counseling to help them negotiate their differences and stay connected during the conflict. The power struggle begins when we say to each other: “Don’t be who you are, be who I need you to be!”
Attempts to change one another inevitably lead to increased defensiveness, negativity, criticism, despair, or indifference. During this period, the “space between” or the relationship quality/energy feels unsafe, hostile, and heavy. Partners begin to struggle with self-regulation, can lash out at each other, become passive-aggressive, or say hurtful things. During this power struggle phase, our childhood wounds get activated, attachment styles collide, and insecurity and anxiety from the past creep in. This can often be the point where a couples therapist can step in to help couples identify entrenched patterns and unresolved hurts that are impacting loving connection.
How do I apply Imago Relationship Therapy in couples counseling?
As a relationship counselor, I provide tools to help couples pass through the power struggle stage, see each other for who they are, and increase self-regulation to avoid hurting each other during conflicts. Imago is a process-oriented therapy, meaning that I focus on the here and now to create a safe space between the couple in sessions.
I encourage my clients to talk freely about unmet needs and strong feelings while discouraging the receiver from interrupting and getting activated. I apply a communication strategy comprised of pre-structured dialogues to bring empathy and validation to communication between partners.
My ultimate goal is to teach couples how to use Imago tools in between sessions to avoid negative or damaging communication patterns and focus on creating the relationship they both want and deserve.
Schedule a Free 15 min.
Counseling Rates in Portland, OR
I accept Oregon Health Plan and private pay clients. Standard rates are $130 – $200 per 50-minute session.
If my fee is a barrier, under certain circumstances I may offer a sliding scale. Please inquire about the availability of my sliding scale slots when you first contact me.
I can accept payment for counseling:
If you are unable to attend a session, please make sure you cancel at least 24 hours beforehand. Otherwise, you may be charged for the full rate of the session.
Any Other Questions?
Please contact me for any additional questions you may have. I look forward to hearing from you!
Couples counseling and relationship counseling: what is the specificity of a therapist
Couples counseling and relationship counseling are specialized forms of therapy that focus on improving the relationships between couples. The main goal of these therapies is to help couples better understand each other, communicate more effectively, and strengthen their bond.
The specificity of a therapist in couples and relationship counseling lies in their expertise in working with couples as a unit. This means that they are trained to address the unique dynamics, challenges, and issues that arise in romantic relationships.
Some key skills and approaches that a therapist specializing in couples counseling may use include:
- Communication skills training: this involves teaching couples how to express their thoughts and feelings in a clear, respectful, and effective way. Couples counseling therapists may also teach active listening skills and help couples develop empathy for each other.
- Conflict resolution: relationship counselling therapists help couples develop strategies for resolving conflicts healthily and constructively. This may involve teaching de-escalation techniques, identifying triggers, and helping couples learn to compromise.
- Family dynamics: couples therapists may explore the impact of family backgrounds, cultural differences, and experiences on the relationship.
- Attachment styles: relationship counseling therapists may help couples understand their attachment styles and how they impact their relationships. This can help couples become more aware of their patterns and work towards more secure attachment.
- Emotional regulation: relationship counseling and couples counseling therapists may teach couples techniques for managing their emotions, such as mindfulness or deep breathing exercises. This can help couples stay calm and focused during difficult conversations.
In summary, a therapist specializing in couples and relationship counseling has a unique skill set focused on helping couples work through their issues and build stronger relationships. They are trained to address the specific challenges and dynamics in romantic relationships and can offer tailored interventions to help couples improve their communication, resolve conflicts, and deepen their connection.
What qualities should a good relationship counselor and couples counselor have
Good couples and relationship counselors should possess several key qualities that enable them to effectively help couples work through their issues and strengthen their relationships. These qualities include:
- Empathy: a good couples counselor should be able to empathize with their clients and understand their perspectives, even if they don’t necessarily agree with them. They should be able to create a safe and non-judgmental environment in which couples can openly discuss their feelings and concerns.
- Active listening: a good relationship counselor should be a skilled listener who can pick up on both verbal and nonverbal cues. They should be able to ask probing questions that help couples delve deeper into their feelings and emotions.
- Objectivity: a good couples counselor should be able to maintain a neutral, objective stance while working with couples. They should be able to help couples identify and work through their issues without taking sides or showing favoritism.
- Patience: a good relationship counselor should be patient and able to work at the pace of the couple. They should be able to help couples identify and address underlying issues, even if it takes several sessions to do so.
- Communication skills: a good couples counselor should have excellent communication skills, both verbal and written. They should be able to explain complex concepts in simple terms and provide clear feedback to couples.
- Problem-solving skills: a good relationship counselor should be able to help couples identify their problems and develop practical solutions to address them. They should be able to guide couples through the process of setting goals and developing action plans to achieve those goals.
- Knowledge and expertise: a good couples counselor should be knowledgeable and experienced in working with couples. They should have a solid understanding of the dynamics of romantic relationships and be familiar with a range of therapeutic techniques and interventions.
Overall, a good relationship and couples counselor should be able to create a supportive, non-judgmental environment in which couples can work through their issues and strengthen their relationships. They should possess a range of qualities and skills that enable them to effectively help couples overcome their challenges and achieve their goals.
Marriage counseling : how is it different from couples counseling and family relationship counseling
Couples counseling, relationship counseling, and marriage counseling are similar in that they all focus on improving the dynamics between partners and strengthening their relationships. However, there are some differences between these types of counseling:
- Focus: couples counseling and relationship counseling are generally broader in focus, and may be used to address issues in various stages of a relationship. Marriage counseling, on the other hand, tends to be more specific to the needs and issues of a married couple.
- Goals: couples counselling and relationship counseling may focus on building communication skills, deepening intimacy, improving problem-solving skills, and fostering mutual understanding. Marriage counseling may focus on specific issues such as infidelity, trust issues, and communication breakdowns.
- Timeframe: couples counseling and relationship counselling may be shorter, and may involve fewer sessions than marriage counseling. Marriage counseling may require more time and more sessions to fully address and resolve issues.
- Interventions: couples counseling and relationship counseling may involve a wider range of interventions, such as individual sessions, group sessions, and couples sessions. Marriage counseling may focus primarily on couples sessions.
In summary, couples counseling and relationship counseling are broader in scope, whereas marriage counseling is more specific to issues that arise in the context of marriage. The goals, timeframe, and interventions used may also vary between these different types of counseling.
The following are services that I specialise in
It’s no surprise that gay marriage counseling is in demand because it may be more challenging for LGBTQ people.
People thrive in secure and loving partnerships! As a helping professional I believe in the healing power of connection.
A cornerstone of my practice is supporting survivors of gender-based violence and creating a safe space for women.
Creating a compassionate, understanding and affirming space to explore sexuality and gender identity.
I do know what it means to acculturate and make new connections to question identity, and to navigate interculturally.