Have breaches of trust eroded your relationship?

Has affection turned into arguing?

Do you feel exhausted, alone, or on edge around your partner?

Are you having a hard time communicating and connecting?

Do you wish enjoyed your relationship more?

Are you happy with your relationship, but feel you could benefit from therapy?

  • Spoiler Alert: "Happy couples can (and should!) go to therapy. You don’t need to wait until you’re about to break up. It’s certainly scary to ask your partner to go to therapy with you when things are basically status quo, since we tend to think of couples therapy as a last-ditch effort. " Read More.

The Love trap... what got us here in the first place.

According to scientists, when people initially ‘fall in love’ they exhibit the same activity in the brain regions as someone using cocaine, with the main being dopamine, a neurotransmitter that triggers the brain’s reward system that gives the lover focus, energy, motivation and craving. When dopamine is activated our brains want more and get upset if they don’t get it (eg. triggering anxiety when apart). This definition of "love" is blind, as the brain craves attention like a drug, resulting in distorted reality. In reality, this is not love. It is infatuation, attraction, desire, romance.

 

LOVE is a thoughtful and present experience of tuning into your values, understanding the stories that have shaped your thoughts, feelings and behaviors, and choosing to behave your best and meet your partner's needs even when they are faltering to meet your needs. It is when what you want is as important (not more important) than what what the relationship needs.

 

PSYCHOTHERAPY FOR COUPLES

Couple Therapy sessions using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) skills are highly focused skill-building sessions which introduce ACT strategies and skills in a safe, relaxed and comfortable space. The atmosphere is easy going usually with a fair amount of humor. Skills are taught in sessions which usually are 50 minutes. Sometimes longer sessions are scheduled, if requested. Homework is an important component of the therapy work. This might include practicing newly learned skills, small amounts of reading, keeping a log and giving feedback. ACT couple therapy complements Gottman and Mindfulness approaches. Couple Therapy using ACT is really about building skills which:

  • Allow partners to be more aware, present and engaged with themselves and their partner;

  • Allow this awareness to fill each moment of the relationship;

  • Allow partners to move from being swept along by endless stories or narratives and judgements and the feelings that they trigger to a much more flexible and adaptable response to the demands of the situation;

  • Allow behavior and action to flow from being more conscious of what is most important in each moment.

 

Each partner becomes less likely to be swept away by strong emotions, less reactive and less likely to end up feeling distant and isolated from each other and lonely in the relationship. They instead develop Psychological Flexibility.

ACT Effectiveness Research

http://contextualpsychology.org/effectivenessarticles

Research Summary

http://contextualpsychology.org/ResearchSummaries

Act Studies

http://contextualpsychology.org/analogue_studies_component_studies_and_correlational_studies

Learn more:

  • “ACT with Love”  (Acceptance and Comittment Therapy with Couples) – Russ Harris MD.

  • “The Mindful Couple” – Robyn Walser Ph.D.

  • “Psychological Flexibility: ACT in Action” – Steven Hayes Ph.D.

  • “ACT made Simple” – Russ Harris MD.

  • “The Miracle of Mindfulness: a Manual on Meditation” – Thich Nhat Hanh.

  • “Wherever you go, there you are : Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life” – Jon Kabat-Zinn Ph.D

  • “Ten Lessons to Transform Your Marriage” by John Gottman Ph.D. and Julie Schwartz Gottman Ph.D.

 

Sessions are typically 50 minutes once a week, depending on the circumstances. The couple is always the client, and goals are set in relation to this premise. If you find you need to work on individual goals outside of couple therapy, or if you are already seeing a therapist, please discuss with me so we can determine the appropriateness of working together at the same time.

Individual sessions are completed early in couples' therapy for the following purposes:

  • To observe and interact with each partner in context without other partner.

  • To hear how each partner sees and feels about their partner and the relationship.

  • To obtain information and check hypotheses (e.g. competing attachments, level of commitment, previous trauma that may be impacting the relationship in the present, contraindications, safety concerns, etc.).

  • To refine impressions of attachment fears and needs underlying their interactional positions and to begin to articulate them.

FOR DATING AND PREMARITAL COUPLES

 

Lifetime partnership is choosing "your eating companion for about 20,000 meals, your travel companion for about 100 vacations, your primary leisure time and retirement friend, your career therapist, and someone whose day you'll hear about 18,000 times." (HuffPost 2014).

In addition to addressing your individual concerns and goals, I support you in:
 

  • Asking the right questions to inspire meaningful conversation with your partner.

  • Analyzing your partner's level of conscientiousness and character based on compatibility, relationships skills, friends, and patterns from family and previous relationships.

  • Resolving your own emotional "baggage" from previous relationships so the past doesn't sabotage the present.

  • Opening your eyes to both problems and successes in your relationship.

  • Identifying and breaking destructive patterns before you walk down the aisle.​

FOR COHABITATING AND MARRIED COUPLES

A couple who still feels “in love” after years together is unsinkable in the waves of life. In addition to addressing your individual concerns and goals, I support you

 

  • growing your skills for communication,

  • resolving conflict before it becomes contempt and resentment

  • forgiving authentically 

  • rebuilding trust

  • identifying and satisfying personal needs

  • constructing a marriage story

  • making time to keep intimacy strong

WHEN ONE OF YOU WANTS TO END IT

Discernment Counseling was designed to work when one spouse wants to work on the relationship while the other is seriously considering breaking up. The goal of Discernment Counseling is to

 

  • determine the future of the relationship by clarifying how the relationship got to this point and each partner’s contributions to the issues.

  • to make a decision to either keep the relationship as it is, to separate, or to commit to lengthier couples therapy with separation off the table. This third option may involve a healing or therapeutic separation.

WHEN THE DECISION IS MADE TO LEAVE

Unfortunately, some couples will decide to dissolve their partnership for a variety of reasons, and I have included some brief information on this, here.

I have also included information for those experiencing domestic violence and/or harassment, here.

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1219 Coombs Street, Suite D

Napa, CA 94559

1151 Broadway, Suite 104

Sonoma, CA 95476

©2017 BY JENNIFER HAMPTON, License No. LCSW 82213