People often get stuck in their problems because all they can see is the problem. Counseling can provide a different perspective that helps the client to focus on the solution thus reframing the problem. A third party who is objective can provide perspective that clients are unable to see.
Therapy is not meant to be just a feel good session. It is meant to be a collaborative process where the client and therapist work towards accomplishing the client’s goals. My goal is to help clients discover what is true about them and be able to embrace their inherent value and worth. During therapy you will find a listening ear and validation. While there may be times of facing difficult feelings, the therapeutic environment will be safe and secure.
Problems occur when people form false beliefs as a result of negative and traumatic experiences reinforced throughout their life. From these beliefs, feelings flow that motivate behavior that is either adaptive or maladaptive. Research has shown that anxiety originates in the automatic thoughts that we think. These thoughts arise from the conclusions we have drawn to bring sense to our experiences, both positive and negative.
Individual counseling provides an opportunity for people to discover their fears, which creates anxiety and confront them. During the counseling process, clients focus on what is true about them and what defines them. Together we explore the meaning we give feelings and how to move towards what is important to us.
Change occurs after recognizing negative behaviors resulting from feelings that originate in what we believe about ourselves. Identifying our feelings and discovering what we believe in that situation helps us find out if what we think about ourselves is true or not. Change happens when we can accept the painful feelings and thoughts without giving them meaning. We are free to choose based on what we know versus what we feel.
Intimacy in marriage is experienced emotionally, physically, and spiritually or three-dimensionally. When conflict occurs in the relationship, couples find themselves turning away from each other. Distance ensues, and trust begins to erode. When conflict arises, anxiety mounts, resulting in emotional flooding. Flooding prevents us from accepting the bids for connection that our partners initiate. Identifying these feelings and discovering how to soothe ourselves leads to emotional balance. Couples must find safety within the relationship to share their feelings while not being defined by what the other feels.
Sharing feelings is an act of vulnerability that creates intimacy where trust grows, and couples feel loved and desired. Sharing and validating feelings creates emotional safety within the relationship. This vulnerability is the primary way to strengthen a marital bond and keep love alive. Through vulnerability, a secure emotional attachment re-establishes, and intimacy in your marriage preserved.
As a Gottman trained marriage family therapist, I help couples learn how to build a relationship where they turn towards each other, manage conflict, and begin to dream about their future together.
Couples Intensive Weekend
Couples Intensive Weekends are 10 hours of concentrated counseling over a two-and-a-half-day period with a Gottman trained licensed marriage family therapist. Using the evidence-based Gottman treatment model, couples complete a relationship assessment that pinpoints the areas where they can achieve the highest growth and move forward to a place of strength, reconnection, and hope.
The Couples Intensive Weekend is an effective alternative to the traditional therapeutic approach that is condensed and focused on the specific issues to get your relationship back on track.
Couples will be presented with tools and interventions to learn how to build love maps, turn towards each other and accept bids for connection. Gottman’s research shows that 69% of problems couples encounter remain unresolved but does not end the relationship. Couples often focus on eliminating the conflict instead of managing it. During the Marathon Weekend, they will learn to manage conflict. Couples will begin to dream again and develop rituals of connection that move them towards fulfilling these dreams.
To schedule your Intensive Weekend, contact Peter J Marsh MA LMFT SRT.
Family Therapy Counseling
People exist in the context of relationships and within family systems that have specific rules that have developed over time. When these dysfunctional rules present, the family system ensures (homeostasis) moving back to what is known regardless of its functionality. If we change the organization of the family, presenting problems can be resolved. In family counseling,
I approach therapy from the perspective that interactions between family members are transactions that can change and become more successful. Family systems theory suggests that families often do not want to disrupt the equilibrium of the family even when it is unproductive or unhealthy. I help families identify and learn new ways to relate to one another free of negativity.
Sexual Addiction Counseling
Sexual addiction is described as a progressive intimacy disorder characterized by compulsive sexual thoughts and acts. Despite common misunderstanding, this addiction is not about “too much sex.” It is a serious problem in which one engages in persistent and escalating patterns of sexual behavior despite increasing negative consequences to self-and/or others (SASH Web site, 2007). Like all addictions, its negative impact on the addict and family members increases as the disorder progresses. Over time, the addict usually has to intensify the addictive behavior to achieve the same results.
For some sex addicts, behavior does not progress beyond compulsive masturbation or the extensive use of pornography, phone, or computer sex services. For others, addiction can involve illegal activities such as exhibitionism, voyeurism, obscene phone calls, child molestation, or rape.
For many, addiction to pornography and other compulsive sexual behavior has destroyed their most important relationships. Recovery from sexual addiction is possible with the help of others. Seeking help for this issue requires the individual to come out of hiding and be willing to tell another their most shameful and dark secrets. Clients can expect to find an accepting environment where transparency is rewarded, and freedom found.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is the result of traumatic experiences that cannot be understood or processed at the moment they are occurring. The brain switches to the sympathetic autonomic nervous system, which is the flight or fight system. PTSD is triggered when similar or familiar emotions from the trauma trigger are experienced in the present. The sympathetic nervous system repeatedly takes over and signals danger when, in fact, there is no real danger.
Identifying the trauma trigger and processing it while your system is at rest (parasympathetic system) will disengage the anxious or traumatic feelings from responding. The key is to recognize the traumatic emotions, and instead of resisting them, accept them without giving them meaning. In other words, the traumatic feelings describe a time when danger was present but no longer define the current reality.
As a Certified Trauma Specialist, I help clients identify their trauma triggers, process them while remaining in the present moment where they are safe. Over time the power of the trauma trigger diminishes, and the individuals can experience the feelings from past trauma in the present. Identifying the client’s trauma story and learning how to tell their story sustains the client in the present moment and free from re-experiencing the past trauma.
Trauma and Infidelity Recovery
Trained in the Gottman Method of Couples Therapy in Trauma and Infidelity, I help clients work through the three phases of Atonement, Attunement, and Attachment. Couples that successfully move through these phases can re-establish and restore their broken relationship.
Depressive disorders constitute one of the most common and severe complications seen in therapy. It is often called the common cold within mental health. While some treatment therapies prescribe anti-depressants, available research data indicates that treatment outcome for psychotherapy is equal to that of drug therapy in cases of moderate and severe depression and superior in terms of reducing subsequent relapse. The most successful intervention is a both/and approaches both medication and therapy.
Depression can be very debilitating and often misunderstood by clients and their families. The thoughts and beliefs about certain stressful events create a sense of hopelessness for people suffering from depression. In counseling, I implement a Cognitive Behavioral approach while validating a person’s experience helping them discover ways to re-frame negative thoughts and perceptions.
Loss and Grief Counseling
Losing someone or something you love or care deeply about is very painful. You may experience all kinds of difficult emotions, and you may feel the pain and sadness you’re experiencing will never let up. These are normal reactions to a significant loss. While there is no right or wrong way to grieve, there are healthy ways to cope with the pain that, in time, can renew and permit you to move on.
Grief is a natural response to loss. It’s the emotional suffering you feel when something or someone you love is taken away. The more significant the loss, the more intense the grief will be. You may associate grief with the death of a loved one—which is often the cause of the most intense type of grief—but any loss can cause grief, including:
- Divorce or relationship breakup
- Loss of health
- Losing a job
- Loss of financial stability
- A miscarriage
- Death of a pet
- Loss of a cherished dream
- A loved one’s serious illness • Loss of a friendship
- Loss of safety after a trauma • Selling the family home
The more significant the loss, the more intense the grief becomes. However, even subtle losses can lead to despair. For example, you might experience grief after moving away from home, graduating from college, changing jobs, selling your family home, or retiring from a career you loved.
Grieving is a personal and highly individual experience. How you grieve depends on many factors, including your personality and coping style, your life experience, your faith, and the nature of the loss. The grieving process takes time. Healing happens gradually; it can’t be forced or hurried—and there is no “normal” timetable for grieving. Some people start to feel better in weeks or months. For others, the grieving process may measure in years. Whatever your grief experience, it’s essential to be patient with yourself and allow the process to unfold naturally.
Grief is a bewildering experience incorporating many mixed and contradictory emotions. People try to bring order and sense to their lives, but there is no order during times of grief as feelings arise randomly. Helping clients cope with grief involves sitting with them through the pain while they experience their loss in a supportive and validating environment. We do not try to “fix” grief, rather experience it within healthy boundaries.