About couples therapy

What are your beliefs about couples therapy?

I want to help couples explore ways of maintaining, invigorating, and re-inventing their partnerships across the lifespan to allow both individuals to thrive. I work with same-sex, heterosexual, and mixed orientation couples.

My framework as a therapist has a strong grounding in interpersonal neurobiology and the science of resilience.  I believe people can increase their “brain literacy,” so that they can navigate challenging, sometimes emotionally fraught terrain as a couple more harmoniously.

A few years ago The New York Times Magazine did a feature called “The Undivorced,” about married couples who for various reasons looked like they were divorced. I am fascinated that the only word the journalist could come up with is the ugly moniker “undivorced.”

One of the draws to couples therapy for me is the chance to provide an affirmative, strengths-based, reflective space for couples who want to work on their relationships or contemplate some kind of serious marital transition, but who don’t want to be divorced. There is a vast continuum between an adversarial divorce and a conventionally defined marriage; it’s just not widely discussed.

How do we know if couples therapy is right for us?

Aging, the birth and growth of children, crises, deaths, and individual changes all require that people in relationships revisit and sometimes re-negotiate the terms of their commitment to each other. Most couples face these challenges successfully without a therapist, but occasionally couples gets stuck, overwhelmed, or feel hopeless figuring out what to do. Therapy is useful to couples who are interested in an outside, seasoned perspective and the strategies a professional can bring to help them hear each other differently. As a therapist, I have no agenda about what couples decide to do, but can facilitate their thinking about their next steps, whether or not that includes counseling.

What can we expect in a session?

Depending on the needs, couples therapy involves a combination of individual and couple meetings that generally last an hour. As a therapist, I help couples create a safe, reflective space where they can truly listen to each other, gain clarity on core challenges and conflicts, and thoughtfully chart a course to return to balance. My background and training in trauma, brain science, mindfulness, systems theory, and interpersonal neurobiology allow me to introduce ideas that can elucidate what’s going on and provide ideas for positive forward movement.

What if we don’t know if we’re divorcing, separating, or staying together?

Sometimes the stakes are high for a couple in crisis and the way forward is frightening and unclear. Couples therapy can help identify and validate individual needs, feelings, and beliefs, resolve ambiguity, and clarify the next steps that make sense to both people. Sometimes a separation is a transitional strategy to allow individuals to get healing space and a different perspective on their relationship.

What if we are a polyamorous couple, or contemplating such an arrangement?

Part of my draw to working in the field of couples therapy is to create an affirmative, respectful place for all types of relationships to thrive and to assist couples in diverse relationships to negotiate the challenges of loving against the grain of societal expectations. While I am neither prescriptive nor dogmatic about any one marital arrangement, I believe there are many creative ways for two people to express love and commitment to each other.

Nuts and Bolts

Is therapy confidential?

Respect for your privacy is an important part of successful therapy. If I run into clients in public spaces (parks, grocery stores, farmers’ markets, etc.), I will not acknowledge or speak to them unless they approach me first and signal an interest in saying hello.

Generally, under the law, communications between a client and therapist are confidential and protected. As a therapist, I disclose information about you only with your written permission. However, there are exceptions to this rule, which include:

  • Suspected child abuse or dependent adult or elder abuse. The law requires me to report this information to the appropriate authorities immediately.
  • If you are threatening serious bodily harm to another person/s. The law requires me to notify police and inform the intended victim.
  • If you threaten to harm yourself. I will work collaboratively with you and your family to ensure your safety; however, if these efforts are not successful, further measures may be taken without your permission to ensure you are safe.

How much does therapy cost?

For individual and couples, I charge $125.00 per session. I invoice monthly and expect payment within ten days.

Do you take insurance?

Because my practice is small, I do not work with insurance companies. Some clients can submit receipts to their carrier and get reimbursement for an out-of-network provider. I am licensed to practice clinical social work in the State of Oregon (L2532).

What is the cancellation policy?

Cancellation is allowed within 24 hours of a session. If someone does not show for a scheduled appointment, they are charged for the time I have reserved for them.

What hours are available?

My private practice is small. Generally, I work on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Where is your office?

My office in located in the Buckman neighborhood in SE Portland, accessible by most forms of public transportation and near one of the nicest main bike routes in the city.