Erica’s therapeutic approach is integrative, using Emotion-Focused, Cognitive-Behavioral, Experiential, and Psychodynamic therapies. She believes in building a trusting and supportive therapeutic relationship.
LivingRite’s Couples and Family Specialty Team provides couples and families the opportunity to obtain specialized clinical services in the areas of:
- Pre-Marital Therapy
- Parenting Concerns
- Financial Distress
- Communication skills
- Sexual Issues
- Extended Family Issues
- Blended families
- Interpersonal conflict
- Play Therapy
- Emotion regulation
Our team specialist’s (please see our specialist’s bios below) have advanced clinical training, supervision, and experience in providing evidence-based treatment interventions to address your specific needs as well as your partner’s and/or your children or family’s specific needs. Services are delivered in a quiet, private office setting on an outpatient basis. Our evidence-based treatments include Gottman Method Couples Therapy, Emotion-Focused Couples Therapy, Attachment-Based Therapy, Structural Family Therapy, Transgenerational Family Therapy, Play Therapy, and Family Systems Therapy. If you are interested in setting up an appointment with one of our Couples and Family specialists, please click here http://livingrite.org/appointment or call 779.777.7335.
LivingRite’s Couples Specialist’s provide couples the opportunity to obtain specialized, couples therapeutic services in the areas of: couple therapy, premarital therapy, divorce, relationship issues, communication difficulties, emotion regulation, transitioning to parenthood, emotion-coaching parenting, and attachment.
John and Julie Gottman are one of the world’s leading couples’ therapist. They have dedicated the last 40 years to researching the way couples communicate and interact with each other. Gottman’s findings show that the first three minutes of how a couple raises a conflict issue predicts how the rest of the conversation will go and can even be an indicator of how successful the future of their relationship will be. The Gottman’s addressed that the greatest predictor of break-ups is the way couples interact with one another. Gottman identified these are the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling). These four behaviors predict significant problems for couples regarding conflict management. Managing conflict can be so hard. However, this is manageable! If you and your partner sit down and work on conflict management, you know each other better. This not only strengthens friendship but also increases intimacy, allowing both of you to be able to manage conflict in a healthy manner. From conflict management, you and your partner move forward together in life to create meaning and discover your shared dreams.
What about emotions? Emotions are vital in verbal and non-verbal communication, specifically among couples. Emotions connect people together and regulate how partners respond to each other. When emotions are in our awareness, they provide information regarding the relational bond among couples, guiding them to pay close attention to their interactional cycles. Couples are guided on how to recognize their partner’s emotion so they are able to respond appropriately and cope with conflicts, which in turn helps restructure their interactions
Beginning Couples Therapy, whether it is after having experienced an emotional injury or betrayal, prior to marriage, or having children, can be both scary and overwhelming. At LivingRite, our trained specialists will work with you and your partner at your pace while helping you to process your underlying vulnerabilities and emotional responses related to conflict within your marriage or partnership, strengthen your level of friendship, provide informed research and education to rebuild trust and commitment, help to develop healthy attachment bonds and interactional cycles, create shared rituals or connection, move through life together, and provide support in the healing process.
LivingRite’s Family Specialists provide families the opportunity to obtain specialized, therapeutic services in the areas of: parenting, divorce/separation, blended families, adoption, extended family issues, interpersonal conflict, communication skills and life transitions.
Family dynamics impact an individual from birth to death. Our family-of-origin (i.e. the family we are born into) majorly influences the way we view the world, how we interact with others and what we believe about ourselves. When we grow older and create families of our own, we decide which aspects of our family-of-origin we wish to carry forward and which aspects we wish to redefine to better meet our current needs.
Family therapy seeks to understand how individual and relational behaviors influence family functioning (and vice versa). While a family shares many experiences together, each family member’s perspective of these experiences can differ tremendously. In a therapeutic setting, each family member is given the opportunity to share their unique outlook on the family’s functioning. The autonomy, validation and empathy fostered in a therapeutic environment allow families to slow down and hear one another. The transformation process can begin immediately.
In family therapy, problems are viewed as a dysfunction of the family system rather than a result of one family member’s individual actions. This concept of reciprocity will be explained by your therapist throughout your treatment. Once your family has grasped this term, you are likely to see your family respond to problems in a different manner. Instead of pointing fingers and labeling someone as “the problematic family member”, you may start asking questions such as: Why might this person be having this problem? Is anything going on in the family that may be contributing to this problem? Is the way that I approach the problem helping or hurting this person?
Why Seek Treatment?
Couples. Research shows that most couples wait six years after a conflict begins to enter couples therapy. DO NOT wait! Your time is NOW! Our Team’s sub-specialties cover an array of relationship and family stressors. These experiences can and do affect the quality of your marriage and/or familial relationships. Research has shown that successful couples are able to protect their relationship from external stressors (e.g., work, children, finances). Your therapist will help you and your partner offer support to one another by simply listening and understanding each other’s perspective. The more couples demonstrate the ability to understand each other, the more successful you will be at managing conflict within your marriage. The more positive couples feel toward each other increases the level of emotional and physical intimacy. Treatment with a couples therapist can improve the quality of your intimate relationship, both physically and emotionally.
Family. Family therapy continues to grow in popularity as it is an empirically validated treatment model for obtaining long-lasting change. When all members of a family system are able to feel heard and understand, they have the capacity to make major changes. Family therapy is based on the framework that when family organization is transformed, the life of every family member is altered accordingly.
While there are times when individual therapy is a more appropriate treatment modality, family therapy has the potential to create long-lasting change. If a problem is rooted in a family system, individual therapy may still be beneficial, however this individual may only be able to achieve first-order change. First-order change is when a specific behavior within a family system changes, but interaction patterns remain the same. On the other hand, when a family participates in treatment together, second-order change is achievable. Second-order change is when the underlying rules of a family system change, resulting in new interaction patterns.
It is impossible to understand our individual traits without taking into account how we are impacted by the network of relationships we are embedded into. Relationships give us a sense of purpose and belonging, as they allow us to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. Connection and belonging are critical components required for us to live healthy, fulfilling lives rooted in safety and security.
Treatment Methods and Approaches
Gottman Method Couples Therapy: Gottman’s Method consists of 40 years of research, including 20 year longitudinal studies and developmental studies. Over the years, the Gottman’s have found that 69% of conflict in relationships is perpetual. Meaning, there is no resolution. Only 31% of conflict is actually resolvable. These perpetual problems are based on personality differences and individualized wants and needs. If couples lack a healthy dialogue about these differences, then these issues become gridlocked. So, what makes Gottman Method Couples Therapy different than other treatment methods and approaches to couples therapy? Their method is built on the Sound Relationship House (SRH) Theory. This theory is an integrative approach, dealing with couple conflict, the way couples interact through strengthening friendship and love, and emphasizes shared meaning. Gottman Method focuses on emotion, changing negative interaction patterns, strengthens attachment bonds, listens to couple’s stories, explores specific aspects of past significant relationships, skill building, and focuses on how couples think about their relationship and feel about their feelings.
Emotion-Focused Couples Therapy: The theoretical presentations of Emotion-Focused Couples Therapy (EFT-C) have been empirically validated and are extensively grounded in evidenced-based research. Leslie Greenberg and Rhonda Goldman are leading experts in this field. This treatment approach highlights how couples’ conflict occurs in the domains of both attachment and identity. EFT-C focuses on affect regulation and processing emotions. An emotion-focused couples therapist is an emotion coach who underlines the importance of using emotions to break the interaction of the couple’s’ negative cycles (e.g., attack-defend or demand-withdraw) to create new ways of interacting, while focusing on the presently felt experience and interaction. Couples who are stuck in negative interactional cycles have difficulty expressing and processing emotions, which thus reinforce this cruel cycle. These negative interactional cycles make it almost impossible for couples to engage in positive emotional engagement, which is a principal component of marital satisfaction and stability. A major premise of EFT-C is the emotional bond between couples that is represented by the emotional experience. It is the couples’ interactions that strongly affect the partner’s’ emotional experience. EFT-C holds that the evoking of underlying emotions offers validation, comfort, and to be more affiliative, which in turn helps with emotional transformation. This emotional transformation encourages couples to engage in a positive interactional cycle while strengthening and validating emotional bonds.
Attachment Based Couples Therapy: Attachment theory highlights that most significant relationship issues focus on the security of the attachment bond between the couple. When partners share vulnerability, the attachment bond among the couple is strengthened and intimacy, safety, and trust are promoted. Thus, when vulnerability is revealed in one partner, research has shown that the other partner will respond compassionately, allowing the couple to experience a positive shift in how partners perceive each other. From an attachment-focused perspective, research on couples therapy has provided empirical support that when partners show vulnerability, the attachment bond among couples is strengthened, promoting positive interactional cycles. Couples therapy focuses on creating new attachment bonds in order to feel safe, secure, and validated. An attachment-focused therapist helps couples do this by learning how to self-soothe painful experiences, access soft feelings, and express attachment-related needs.
Family Systems Therapy: The most prominent feature of family therapy is utilization of a systemic perspective. A systemic perspective posits that a system (aka a family) is greater than the sum of its individual parts. Family Systems Therapy looks beyond an individual and seeks to understand how a person is influenced by the environments around them. Every system is thought of as a subsystem of larger systems. For example, an individual is part of a family. A family is part of a community. A community is influenced by larger systems such as culture and politics. Family Systems Therapists observe a family’s systemic interaction patterns, interpersonal roles, adaptation (or resistance) to changing circumstances and overall stability.
Bowenian/Transgenerational Family Therapy: Murray Bowen, a pioneer of family therapy, developed Transgenerational Family Therapy, which explores the emotional processes throughout multiple generations in a family. Bowen found that if you look at a family’s history, you will find relationship patterns that repeat themselves throughout multiple generations. Transgenerational Family Therapists emphasize process (how we interact) over content (what we say to one another). Family genograms (schematic family diagrams) are constructed by therapists to evaluate family boundaries, sibling position, multigenerational transmission processes and emotional triangles.
The goal of this therapy model is to help families differentiate from repeated family dysfunction so that healthy emotional processes can be passed down to future generations. According to Bowen, differentiation of self is what healthy individuals strive for in relationships. A person who is highly differentiated is able to utilize their “wise mind”, meaning they can process events by accessing both emotions and intellect at the same time. This person is able to take a step back from emotionally-charged situations, evaluate what is happening as objectively as possible, then proceed with offering a response. They are able to form healthy, interdependent relationships in which they can empathize with others without taking on their pains as their own.
Play Therapy: Play therapy is a type of therapy primarily used with children that promotes emotional expression through play. Children often feel more comfortable participating in therapy when they are in a relaxed, fun, engaging environment. Therapy is a special time for them to freely explore without the constraints of everyday rules/expectations. Play therapists integrate both directive and non-directive play therapy. Directive play therapy involves the therapist providing input and structure in the session to ensure that treatment goals are being adhered to. With non-directive play therapy, there is limited instruction and supervision from the therapist so that children can resolve issues at their own pace. Common activities used in play therapy include: arts & crafts, music, imaginative/pretend play, interactive games, sand tray/sensory exploration, music, dancing, storytelling, toys and puppets. Play therapy promotes interpersonal effectiveness, problem-solving skills, healthy emotional expression and mindfulness.
Structural Family Therapy: Many families seek out professional help when they find themselves feeling stuck in dysfunctional patterns of problem solving. Structural Family Therapists believe that the key to promoting healthy problem solving in families is to alter the underlying family structure. Structural therapists alter family structure by exploring the subsystems, boundaries and roles that make up family hierarchies.
***Please note that treatment methods availability varies across clinicians. If you have a special treatment method request, please let us know when making your first appointment.
What can I Expect?
Treatment will begin by meeting your therapist and having an assessment of symptoms and struggles to better understand how your relationship and/or family life is being impacted and what treatment will be best for you. As a couple or as a family, together, with your therapist you will create a treatment plan, identifying goals that will lead to healing. Education will be an ongoing piece of treatment and your therapist will help guide you in implementing what you learn in session to outside of session. Your therapist will check in with you regularly to assess progress and any treatment changes necessary.