My best credential as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
is my marriage of 41 years. Next to that is my length of practice in treating both troubled marriages and families having difficulties. I was trained by Dr. Frank Pittman, author of Private Lies, Man Enough, and Grow Up. I worked closely with Frank for over twenty eight years, and believe, as did Frank, that men today have a very difficult time coping in our world and may do foolish things by nature of their masculinity training. My work with couples and families reflects this belief and seeks to help men who have become hypermasculinated and to help their wives to understand them better.
I am a "marriage friendly therapist". I believe in marriage and am able to teach couples very effectively how to make their marriages work. No one in my office has divorced in quite some time. This is because I am teaching effective tools for how couples can stay together without making each other miserable. I teach couples how to connect to each other and how to stop the conflict that ruins the marriage.
Even if couples don't think that they need the marriage or each other, if they have children, the children need the marriage and their family. Divorce requires that people be really good friends in order to co-parent if there are children. People who are good enough friends to be able to do this are good enough friends to make the marriage work. Conversely, people who are not good friends are not good enough friends to be divorced. The divorce doesn't solve the problems nor stop the conflict when there are children. So the idea is to teach couples how to bring out the best in each other rather than the worst. I provide a couples counseling that gives clients concrete tools for doing this.
I am a "Solution-Focused" therapist. That means that I work interactively with people in both couples situations and family situations to define the "real" problem that brought them to the office. People usually come in with the "symptom" of the problem. It is our job to define what the problem behind the symptom is. Then we can work on treating the real problem.
For example, a couple may present with the problem that a wife is depressed and no longer engages with her husband socially or sexually. They begin by defining the problem as her depression. On closer examination, we find that the youngest child, the only boy has just gone off to college. She has lost the last child out of the nest who was also her best friend while the husband worked. Now that the boy is gone, the couple must learn how to be together again as they were before children. They have lost their connection while the children were growing up. We start to see the wife's depression as the symptom of an "empty nest" and begin to rebuild the couple relationship rather than treating the wife in isolation for her depression.
Solution-Focused therapy is a "Doing" therapy, not a talking therapy. That means that clients identify not only what they "feel" but what to DO with what they feel. This is where the behavior changes occur. I give people homework to help them identify negative patterns or to build more positive ones, either as couples or as families.
I follow the guidelines established by the originators of the field of how people communicate with each other. Researchers from the MRI group in Palo Alto in the 50's established an understanding of how we send messages to each other both verbally and nonverbally.
Researchers like Gregory Bateson and Jay Haley established such basic ideas as it is impossible not to communicate. We do so either verbally or nonverbally. When verbal behavior and nonverbal behavior do not match, we attend to the nonverbal behavior.
Thus, couples and families get into great confusion when there are what we call "double messages" in their communication styles. A major part of any couples or family therapy is the straightening out of the double messages.
It is critical to understand that the healthier the relationship, the cleaner the communication. That means that the verbal and nonverbal messages are in sync. This is all an integral part of the marriage counseling
and family therapy I provide.