NYC marriage counseling, couples counseling therapist Irina Firstein, LCSW CBS Interview Psychotherapist New York

Couples Therapy NYC

"Relationships are end all be all"

Relationships are a source of the greatest joy in life as well as most intense pain. Romantic relationships present potential for the deepest connection, attachment, feelings of love and being loved. However, when relationships change over time, they can sour and become a source of our deepest pain and satisfaction. That's when couples therapy is a great option.


Couples Therapy can be effective in healing troubled relationships especially if you start sooner rather then later. If you are experiencing same arguments and same cycle of arguing and conflict, escalating and leading to longer periods of anger, resentment and general disconnection, it is time to realize that you need professional help.


Some couples come to my office with their relationship in shambles, as a last ditch effort before breaking up. Some have a solid connection bur are in a state of crisis, going through a difficult passage, looking for help and guidance on how to get past it. Couples Therapy is often very successful in facilitating a more open and honest communication and mutual empathy thereby bringing a couple closer, creating deeper connection. The key is a commitment to the relationship, hard work, openness and willingness to be vulnerable and take emotional risks. Couples most likely will disagree over Money, Sex, Trust, Friends, levels of commitment, including "next step", vision of future life and life goals. These are emotionally and psychologically loaded areas which bring into focus our deepest values, attachment needs and expectations.

Starting Couples Counseling:

Starting Couples Therapy is a big step. Contacting a Couples Therapist comes from a realization that your relationship needs help, you can not solve the conflicts on your own and this relationship is very important. Just about every couple at our first appointment when I ask what brings them to my office will say: "We have communication problems" or "We fight all the time and it's getting worse". The most immediate goal in relationship counseling is to establish an atmosphere or safety, openness and alliance. Many couples in our sessions will say things like "I never knew this" or "You never told me this before". I am always wondering if, in fact this is the first time things are being said because of safety of my office and my being there, or if these things have been said many times, but not heard. My goal with couples in Couples Therapy is to get a clear understanding of WHAT couples fight about and HOW they fight. The goal of therapy is to change the patterns of fighting, as conflict in relationships in inevitable. One of the first goals in any couples therapy is to learn de-escalation in fighting rather then escalation.


Working With Couples

My template for work with couples is EFT (Emotionally Focused Therapy) developed by Sue Johnson. All my couples in the course of therapy with me, sooner rather then later, read her book, "Hold Me Tight". EFT is based on the premise that we all long for deep connection with people and especially with a romantic partner, which is why we seek romantic love. Using the EFT model, I view all interactions through the lens of attachment theory, we look at each person's attachment style and the emotions that are triggered in what most couples call "communication problems". I then guide my clients in sessions to understand their own and their partner's attachment needs and emotions and learn to communicate about this to each other from a more primary emotional and vulnerable stance. My couples learn to understand that their conflicts have predictable negative cycles, they recognize these cycles as they are occurring and learn to interrupt and change these cycles. They view the cycle as the enemy and not each other. We work in the sessions to have different interactions, creating "positive" cycles, using the language of attachment, emotions, vulnerability and empathy.


It may be time to consider Couple Therapy if you are dealing with any of these issues:

You are not sure you are on the same page in terms of where the relationship is and where it is going.
You are having more and more fights
You sexual relationship and romance are diminishing and/or changing
You are having some trust issues
You want to go to the next step but are not sure you envision the same life or life goals
You are having same arguments and they are getting more and more escalated.
You are having trouble with each other's past history or family of origin


Interested in learning more? Read our articles about Couples Counseling.


Recommended Books:

"Hold me Tight" by Dr Susan Johnson

"Rekindling Desire" by Barry McCarthy and Emily Mc Carthy

If you are ready to start Couples Therapy, Please contact me, Irina Firstein, NYC Couples Therapist at: 212 953-1388 (phone) (email)

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