Marriage Counseling vs. Coaching
Working with Marriage and Family Issues
I provide both marriage and family coaching & counseling, also referred to as therapy, in Orangeburg, Rockland County, and Warwick, in Orange County, NY. Marriage counseling vs. coaching: What’s the difference?
Coaching for couples, whether married or not, is about pragmatic skills to move forward – in communication and in interactions. It’s a subset of life coaching and is not focused on the past or on mental health challenges. Sometimes, however, psychotherapy (also referred to as therapy and counseling) is required in order to help heal deeper issues for either of the partners separately and/or the relationship itself. As a licensed psychotherapist and experienced life coach, I offer a unique blend of both approaches where appropriate.
Most people call on a marriage counselor or marriage coach only when a relationship crisis occurs. Others call on me to simply help them improve what they know is a valuable relationship. Others are seeking to address issues pro-actively, before they get married, or when conflicts arise. But for those who are in crisis in your marriage or relationship, there are five distinct categories of emotional symptoms that offer arise when a marriage or relationship is in trouble.
- Anger – directed either towards one’s partner or one’s self, this may be a powerful block to good communication when the anger turns into an ongoing and simmering resentment, rage, or a withdrawal from the relationship.
- Shame – marriage troubles can lead to feeling shame about the failure of the marriage. What will you tell your family and friends?
- Guilt – related to shame but includes feelings of being responsible for the marriage problems, with feelings of remorse.
- Sadness – marriage trouble can cause this to appear as simply being “off your game” or it can swell to a full blown depression.
- Fear – in anticipation of the many challenging consequences of a possibly failed marriage.
I am fully prepared to help you get through your current marriage crisis or to give you “refresher training” on how to live within an enduring loving relationship. My starting point is my belief in marriage and in all forms of monogamous relationships. My first priority is to save your relationship and to establish a place of safety where real healing of your relationship can begin. During our sessions I will focus treatment on three entities: you, your spouse, and your marriage. In this way I address not just the issues in the marriage but also the two individuals. I find it necessary to work with all three entities to be successful.
In my work with couples, I also rely heavily on Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), one of the best documented, most substantive, and well-researched approaches to couple counseling in the world today, and one in which I completed an externship. Indeed, EFT, developed by Dr. Sue Johnson, stands as one of the best validated couples interventions in North America. Whereas other forms of couples counseling have been shown in studies to be only about 35 percent effective in healing relationships, EFT has achieved an astounding 75 percent success rate with couples. A full 86 percent of couples report feeling happier in their relationships as a result of EFT. And the results have been shown to be long-lasting. EFT is an experiential, emotion-based, now-oriented process of helping couples become closer. It provides a road map, based largely on attachment theory, of helping couples who are lost in a painful and often lonely cycle to learn and indeed experience a new and healthier dance — or pattern — of interaction.
To read my article on healing marital and intimate relationships, click here.
My video on “Peeling the Onion” demonstrates how couples can go beneath the surface of what many tend to find themselves “stuck” bickering or arguing about, to the “core” of ‘what’s really going on’ emotionally. Click here to watch this video.
I also work extensively with families on issues including parenting, dealing with teens and preteens, ADD and ADHD issues, blended families, and all matters involving family and extended families. Just as I do with couples, I often alternate sessions seeing individual family members along and in other combinations to gently yet directly address the underlying issues and effect the greatest positive results.
Family Coaching & Parenting
The family is the place where we derive so many of our values, our beliefs, indeed our ways of seeing the world. The quality and texture of its relationships is often the basis for so much of our life’s experience as adults. Yet so many of us, as parents, struggle with the “unfinished business” of our own parents which were unconsciously passed down to us, and we unwittingly pass on to our children whatever emotional baggage or issues we have not yet worked through similarly. By becoming conscious, however, by “waking up” we can be more vigilant about how we parent, how we can change bad habits and patterns into effective and healthy ones, and the ways in which we help to mold our children’s lives for the better.
Being a parent is probably the most challenging, and yet ultimately rewarding, job there is. Not only do we have our lives as husbands and wives as well as our relationships with our own parents, whether they are alive or not, to contend with, but now we also have the complexities of navigating through the many developmental phases of our kids and helping them cope and adapt well to each stage.
I help parents parent and cope effectively with family life and parenthood. As your family coach, I intervene and help coach not only you, the parents, but also your children, whether latency-aged, pre-teens, adolescents, or young adults. Conflicts between family members need to be identified in a safe venue. Family members need to be supported and to feel heard, regardless of the nature of the conflict. Through the identification and ventilation of feelings, the real or core issues, which are often hidden or disguised, rise to the surface. I facilitate putting plans into effect to resolve conflicts and restore harmony within the family. The issues are sometimes complex in blended families but the process is the same. Just as with couples — where I may see each spouse together and/or separately at various times — I alternate working with different constellations of family members based on the circumstances, to effect healing.
Issues involving peers, such as bullying at school, the use of drugs or alcohol, conquering academic challenges, and problems associated with Attention Deficit Disorder, are all part and parcel of what I work with in helping adolescents and their parents resolve challenges and find a path to healthier, more loving, and more functional and peaceful relationships at home and school.
The differences between coaching and counseling, described above, apply equally to family work.