Couples counseling can be a godsend for virtually any couple at some point in their relationship. Interpersonal conflict is simply part of the human experience, and often it is in our love relationships that we experience that conflict most frequently and deeply. The emergence of conflict in a marriage or serious relationship does not necessarily signal disaster ahead. In fact, it might lead to a great opportunity for couples to work with a marriage and family therapist to strengthen the love relationship, restore trust in the relationship, and increase the possibilities for true intimacy.
Relationship problems are far more likely to develop during times of transition for couples and their families, such as when starting a new relationship, bringing a child into the family, dealing with a grandparent's death, or ending a relationship. Whether you hope to save a marriage, plan for a divorce, or sort out all the territory in between, a marriage and family therapist can be an objective source of support and information about love relationships.
Premarital counseling is widely viewed as an excellent way to minimize the difficulties of adjusting to moving from a good romantic relationship into one that has legal binding. No matter how convinced you are of the wisdom of your decision to marry, actually taking that step raises all sorts of conscious and unconscious anxieties that a marriage counselor can help the couple to address and to sooth. Sometimes one partner tends to project his or her own such anxieties onto the partner, in which case it can look to the outside as if one person is getting cold feet and the other is raring to go, when in fact they both have mixed feelings. In premarital therapy, a licensed marriage and family therapist can help you learn to take back such projections, to stop conveniently locating your own issues in your partner, and to assume full responsibility for the complexity of your own emotional life.
Premarital counseling can help both members of a couple identify patterns that can cause trouble, but that can be headed off with early intervention. For example, we each have a style of defending against guilt, shame, fear, and other uncomfortable feelings. A marriage counselor can point out the advantages and pitfalls of each person's style of defending and relating. One of the most enjoyable aspects of couples counseling is having the therapist guide each person to strengthen their hold on the positive aspects of the relationship that can serve as buoys when the going inevitably gets into rough water.
How Therapy Can Reduce Common Marriage Problems
Marriage problems are, frankly speaking, to be expected, not only coming from normal daily reality, but also from the powerful reality of the unconscious mind. For example, a common source of difficulty is when there is unresolved grief about the loss of a previous relationship; the person may not even be aware of it, yet the relationship can be suffering mysteriously because of it.
Another common issue is when there is grief involved for a couple when one person becomes a step-parent and must give up the fantasy of having the partner to him/herself. The birth parent involved can have grief that the new spouse will never feel the same way about his/her child. Such grief can be terribly painful and problematic, and is an excellent reason to seek couples counseling.
I have many years experience working with women and their relationships and with men and their relationships. Whether straight, gay or lesbian, or bisexual, you can expect to benefit from my extensive training, experience, and personal commitment to provide respect and understanding. I am particularly well-known and respected among my colleagues for my extensive experience working with lesbian couples and individuals.
Many couples are experiencing crisis these days because of enormous financial pressures. One common result is that too often we end up feeling helplessness and shame that lead to a "blame game" that is toxic to couples relationships. I can help you minimize that sort of damage to your love relationship. The biggest mistake that couples make is that they wait too long before they call for help. Therapy tends to be an incredibly valuable investment. No one has ever said to me that they wished they had postponed coming in, but many, many have said they wished they had come sooner.
Sometimes only one person in a couple feels comfortable or ready to get help from a therapist. I urge that person to make the call and come in for a consultation to see if I might be helpful. Many couples and families see great improvement in their relationship and communications when just one person seeks help. Being open to finding out about therapy is an indicator of strength.
Calls regarding appointments are welcome at my private voicemail: 650-325-2576.
Additional Couples Resources
As an adjunct to the services I provide, I sometimes refer books, articles, online resources, and other professionals to my clients. There is a caveat, however. These recommendations should not be interpreted to mean I am in complete agreement with all aspects of the content or opinions of the resources listed. Nor am I responsible in any way for the content of these resources or the practices of other professionals.
The following isn't meant to be a comprehensive list. Many additional resources could be listed and I will continue adding more over the course of time. These are some favorites, however, and ones that have been helpful to my clients and others seeking help. I encourage you to do your own search and trust what speaks to you.
The following resources are organized into categories and I've tried to include a diversity of resources under each topic. If you have any questions about any of the following resources, please feel free to contact me at 650-325-2576.
Sex Therapy Resources
Carol L. Campbell, MFT, is a licensed marriage and family therapist providing psychotherapy and psychoanalysis for individual adults and couples in Palo Alto, California. She has degrees from Brown University and Santa Clara University and has been licensed since 1991. Carol is a graduate of the Palo Alto Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Training Program sponsored at Stanford by the San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis and was a candidate at the Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California in San Francisco from 2010-2011. She is also a clinical member of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists and the Northern California Society for Psychoanalytic Psychology. Carol can be reached by calling 650-325-2576.