Improving Openness and Communication
It is always an honor to counsel couples when they are preparing for greater commitment — whether before rituals of commitment, or along the path of commitment, when challenges come up that could use the greater safety and guidance of a third person as bridge and container.
Before commitment ceremonies — and this includes both sacred rituals as well as the secular ritual of 'moving in together '— we practice powerful groundwork lessons, to help couples maximize their strengths, learn communication skills, and how to navigate each partner's vulnerabilities.
However, too often in today's culture couples come in for healing counseling only when they are already in significant crisis. So the first thing we do in session is to co-create a safe space, where both of you can lower your defenses, (as well as your spears), feel your body relax and open, and take the risk of speaking to your partner once again from the heart, about the pain you’re in. That safety to speak from the heart—without worrying about being verbally attacked, criticized, ignored, ganged-up on, or interrupted—is the essential business of couples' counseling.
When we’ve agreed on ways to create and maintain that safe space, we often agree on some general parameters. Usually this involves figuring out what goals both
partners have in common, and what they can agree upon for a limited-time commitment. I usually ask couples to commit to a six-week course of weekly sessions at first, in order to help create that
safe space for both people; a commitment to try the work of healing counseling without demanding unrealistic immediate results. Change is hard! and deserves great carefulness and
Although every couple has different problems, the larger issues are very often:
• Unproductive/hurtful style of argument and conflict-resolution
• Communication styles
• Sex and Intimacy
Here’s what I do with couples who choose to work with me:
Once we have established a safe style of talking, I help both partners express their desires for change, and help both partners learn exercises for creating safe-listening /safe-talking space for when you are outside of our session—good, explicit boundaries and listening exercises.
Then I help each partner access your positive reasons for being in session; hope, for example, that conflict may be resolved (even last-ditch hope is hope).
Next, we practice connecting each persons expectations and hurts with individual history-- each partner's family of origin, for example — and practice compassion for the ongoing, unfinished healing business common to everyone on earth.
The most important movement in couples therapy, no matter who the counselor, is to help each member of a couple learn his or her own responsibility for the relationship. Two adults in relationship are in a relationship of choice. (Only children and dependent adults have limited choice about who they invest their precious years with.) Together, we explore how our childhood expectations and habits, learned from our parents, may still be unconsciously creating our behaviors and relationships today, and how we might change some specific automatic behavior into more mindful behavior choices. This work is powerfully described in John Gottman’s The Relationship Cure, and Harville Hendrix's, Keeping the Love You Find.
Healing is about listening more closely—whether to your own body, your own dreams, or your partner's. This is above all what we practice.
My fee for individual counseling is $200 for a 50 minute session, pro-rated after that. I also honor BC PPO out-of- network contracts (you can send in superbills for reimbursement) and I will be happy to consider a sliding scale according to need.
Please feel welcome to email me:
garyglickmanphd [AT] gmail.com
or call me at (310) 980-4188. I'm happy to offer a free phone consultation to potential clients to answer any questions you might have.