Couples often seek therapy at a point in which their relationship is polarized by reactivity and power struggles are making connection extremely difficult. Trapped in impasses that they are unable to fix on their own, they seek counseling with the hope of finding a new direction.

Many couples come to therapy feeling "stuck"; they are caught up in struggles that are characterized by reactivity, anger and escalation. Often one (or both) partners are unable to empathize and see the other's perspective, making progress difficult. Couples are often highly anxious and reactive when they come to therapy, and in this state it is very difficult to successfully problem-solve together. When working with couples, I try to convey a true sense of hope that the issue(s) can be understood, and that the relationship can in some way move forward.

I often get calls from couples that are in despair. They feel frightened that their relationship is beyond help and don't see a positive way to move forward. Their communication has broken down and trust has been damaged. I also frequently work with couples that are in a good place, but may be dealing with a specific crisis and want the assistance or support of a professional.

Couples come into counseling with a variety of issues to address including communication and conflict resolution, fighting and anger problems, identity and role conflict, dependence vs. independence, religion, ethics and values, jealousy, parenting, infidelity, money and finances, addiction, family and in-law struggles, blended family issues, gender roles, and infertility/adoption.

How I Approach Work With Couples:

Difficulties within a relationship can serve as a positive gateway for exploration and progress.

I view couples therapy as a collaborative process...meaning that we are all on the same "team", working together to confront the problem(s) at hand. I aim to stay involved in the session at all times. I begin by establishing a collaboratively defined future vision for the relationship, which incorporates the goals of both members.

In my work with couples, the overall goal is to help each partner move from a highly reactive position to one characterized by more reflection, awareness and flexibility.

During the session time, problems can be carefully examined and discussed without out fear of pain or judgment.

It is important to work towards changing hurtful and destructive patterns in the relationship and aiming to create a stronger, more meaningful connection.

Developing Communication Skills:

I like to work with each member of the couple to increase his/her ability to be more take a moment to pause and be thoughtful before communicating. As the therapist, I help each partner to feel more empowered and empathic, and to have an increased variety of options and choices.

Healthy communication is a key ingredient of a successful relationship, and successful couples know how to communicate in a way that can actually improve their relationship. Throughout the therapeutic process, I help my clients to understand the way in which they presently communicate. It is important to take time to teach each partner about new skills and solutions to improve communication.

Dis-inviting Blame:

Couples who come to therapy are often caught up in a strong cycle of mutual blame, consistently looking to find fault. Along with blame also comes anger and criticism. I encourage my clients to identify these "blame sequences" and try to distance themselves from it. Couples do have a choice whether or not to allow blame to play a central role in their relationship.

Working collaboratively and effectively, I guide couples to:

--Translate feelings of anger into needs.

--Create a safe environment by mediating interactions and interrupting the "blame game".

--Slow down interactional processes to encourage more control and improved communication.

--Identify negative patterns that are hindering the quality of the relationship connection.

-- Learn how to examine and confront power struggles.

-- Recognize the 'cause & effect' patterns in your relationship.

--Find healthy ways to communicate and relate to each other, which will strengthen the quality of your partnership.

Author's Bio: 

Allison Lloyds is a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) in private practice in New York City. In my practice, I see individuals, couples and families. I also facilitate ongoing psychotherapy groups.