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Couples Therapy NYC

“Relationships are end all and be all.”

Relationships can be a source of great joy as well as most intense emotional pain. Romantic relationships can offer deep connection, secure attachment, feelings of love and being loved, and a sense of being special and important. However, relationships usually change over time, and often not for the better and is becoming a source of our deepest pain and dissatisfaction. This is why couples therapy is a great option for those New Yorkers who want to protect their relationship from further deterioration, heartache and possibly dissolution. And for those who are already experiencing escalating conflict and disconnect, it can be helpful from irreversible damage.

Couples Therapy can be effective in healing troubled relationships. This is especially true for those NYC couples who start therapy sooner rather than waiting for the relationship to completely break down. If you find yourself in a cycle of having the same escalating fight or conflict that is leading to longer periods of anger, resentment and general disconnection, it is time to realize that you may need professional help.

The key to any long lasting, satisfying relationship is commitment, openness and a willingness to be vulnerable and take emotional risks. Couples typically disagree over things like money, sex, trust, friends, levels of commitment (including “next step”) and their vision of the future – including quality of life and life goals. These are emotionally and psychologically loaded areas which bring into focus our deepest values, attachment needs and expectations.

The truth is that broken relationships don’t just fix themselves. When issues in a relationship are ignored they will typically get worse until they are irreparable. If you have found that you and your partner are unable to have healthy discussions about these or any other topics, it may be time to seek professional help.

Starting Couples Counseling

Some couples come to my office with their relationship in shambles, as a last ditch effort before breaking up. Some have a strong, solid connection, but are in a state of crisis, going through a difficult period, looking for help and guidance on how to navigate it. Couples therapy is often very successful in facilitating open and honest communication and mutual empathy, thereby bringing a couple closer, creating deeper connection.

Starting couples therapy is a big step. Contacting a couples therapist comes from a realization that your relationship is important and needs help. It is a realization that you cannot solve the conflicts on your own and you are in need of help and guidance. Just about every couple I see, when asked what brings them to my office at their first appointment will say: “We have communication problems” or “We fight all the time and it’s getting worse”. Meaning that often times, what seems like an issue about money, sex, trust or commitment is often an issue of communication – or a lack of it.

As I work with couples, my immediate goal in relationship counseling is to establish an atmosphere of safety, openness and alliance. Many couples in our sessions will say things to their partner like “I never knew this…” or “You never told me this before…”. Which says to me, that either they have not felt safe to say certain things to their partner outside the shelter of my office, or they have attempted to say these things and they fell on deaf ears. Regardless of the reason, my goal in couples therapy is to get a clear understanding of WHAT couples fight about and HOW they fight. The ultimate goal of therapy is to change the patterns of fighting and the manner in which couples argue, as conflict in relationships in inevitable. One of the first goals in any couples therapy is to learn de-escalation in fighting rather than escalation.

How Irina Firstein Works With Couples

My approach for working with couples is based on EFT (Emotionally Focused Therapy), developed by Sue Johnson. All of the couples who come to me are tasked with reading her book, “Hold Me Tight” to learn more about this approach. EFT is based on the premise that we all long for deep connection with people, especially with a romantic partner, which is why we seek romantic love.

In fact, I am certified in Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy. The certification means that a certain level of expertise has been achieved in practicing this model which is recognized by the International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy (ICEFT).

Using the EFT model, I view all interactions through the lens of Attachment Theory, which is where we look at each person’s attachment style and the emotions that are triggered in what most couples label “communication problems”. Then I guide my clients in sessions to understand their own and their partner’s attachment needs and emotions and help them learn how 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, which they learn to recognize as they are occurring and learn how to interrupt and change these cycles. They learn to view the cycle as the enemy and not each other. During sessions we work 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

If you are ready to begin couples therapy today, call 212-953-1388 today or email to make an appointment with the best couples therapist in NYC – Irina Firstein, LCSW. I am especially accessible to clients looking for a couples therapist in Manhattan and in all other areas of New York City including Upper East Side Manhattan.

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

Sessions available in person, by phone or on Skype.