Couples Counseling Video Announcement

February 16th, 2012

Oakland Couples counseling is pleased to announce the release of it’s first video, “Behind the Argument.”

The video describes a model by Jon Eisman, founder of Re-Creation of the Self, and how it applies to couples’ arguments.  The video proposes a belief  that a fundamental aspect of being human is that we possess a drive towards love and connection with others. It explains how when our desires for connection get thwarted at a young age, we all develop coping strategies to manage the feelings that ensue. Unfortunately, these very strategies that helped us survive our childhood, all too often, end up creating problems in romantic relationships as adults.

The video explains how these strategies also create a system or “cycle” in which the couple’s attempts to interact with each other productively, inadvertently become  triggering to our partner and thus the cause of the conversation becoming counterproductive.

For example: Sally feels disconnected from John. As Sally’s loneliness turns to frustration, she complains that John is “never there for her” in an attempt to get him to show up more. John gets trigger. He feels like he is failing Sally, like he is not good enough. He also feels that this is unfair. He becomes distant and complains that Sally is “never satisfied.” He defends himself by explaining how he is there for her, hoping that this will convince her that he is there. Sally gets triggered. She feels unheard and even less connected to John. She feels like what she’s asking for is so basic, and she feels disappointed that she can’t seem to get this through to him. As her disappointment turns to frustration, she can’t believe that John “doesn’t get it.” So, she naturally increases her argument around his lack of availability to try to get him to understand. John feels the heat. He gets anxious about a possible fight. He starts thinking: “her she goes again.” He starts getting upset and tells her she is being “irrational.” Sally is now not only feeling disconnected, she is feeling rejected and shamed by John. She starts wondering why she is even with such an “emotionally-unavailable man.” The cycle runs a few more loops until Sally eventually storms out of the room, slamming the door behind her. John then retreats to the garage for the rest for the day. Neither understand why the other is “acting that way.” Neither is aware how their behavior contributed to their partner’s behavior.

The video then goes on to explain how couples can use this model to map out their fights and begin to develop the tools to understand each other better. For mapping out the fight does three things. First, it slows everything down and helps couples gain the awareness of the cycle they are trapped in. Second, the map allows them to trace their steps back to more vulnerable emotions (which are hard enough to share when we are not fighting.) Third, it frames the argument as an attempt to feel some aspect of love: connection, acceptance, safety, etc. With these new perspectives, the couple can then develop ways to communicate with each other about what they need or feel without triggering each other as much.

If you haven’t seen the video, you can watch it by clicking below:


If you are interested in taking classes on understanding couples’ arguments and what to do about them, visit my workshop page or contact me for a free phone consultation.



The Couples Counseling Channel is a You Tube channel dedicated to providing couples with educational material to help them improve their relationships. Videos will explore issues around how relationships got off track as well as offering advise on how to improve the quality of your relationship.


Jon Eisman is a therapist in Oregon and one of the main instructors for the Hakomi method of psychotherapy on the West Coast. Jon has created existential approach to psychotherapy similar to Hakomi called the Re-Creation of the Self. Jon has been an invaluable teacher and guide in my journey as a psychotherapist.

Workshop Announcement

February 12th, 2012

On February 17th through the 19th, I will be organizing a workshop with Bill Bowen on “Embodiment in Psychotherapy.”



On Friday night there will be a free lecture from 7:00-8:30:

“The Process of Becoming Embodied for Client and Therapist”This lecture will discuss how the quality of both client and therapist being embodied is central to the process of somatic psychotherapy. It will discuss how the therapist’s sense of embodiment affects the quality of connection, the assessment process, and his or her ability to help the client become more mindful and embodied, as well.

Please come with your body and enjoy this experiential and didactic evening with me.

If you are interested in attending this lecture you can register with me:




On Saturday, we will be hosting a full day workshop (9:30AM to 5:00PM):

“Being Embodied as Therapist”Going deeper into the theme of “therapist embodiment,” this workshop will examine how the quality of embodied connection and interaction between client and therapist is essential in the process of somatic psychotherapy. The workshop will explore the concepts of awareness and presence from a somatic perspective. The workshop will focus on how to work with “somatic resonance” between client and therapist. It will explore ways for the therapist to strengthen his or her ability to stay physically resourced and present during the therapeutic process.  The workshop will include didactic and experiential exercises for participants to use to examine their own process and develop new perspectives and skills.

For more information or to register for this workshop: Please contact me at, or go to

Cost: $150,  6 CE’S available




Sunday’s workshop (also from 9:30AM to 5:00PM) will be:

“Embodiment, the Fundamental Somatic Resource: Supporting Clients in Becoming Embodied”This workshop will focus on supporting a client in developing a greater sense of somatic awareness and an increased capacity to be present in his or her body as part of the therapeutic process. The workshop will explore how to introduce the practice of somatic awareness to new clients. It will explore ways to support clients who are disembodied or dissociated with increasing their ability to be more somatic ally awareness. It will examine ways introduce new somatic resources designed to assist clients towards change. This workshop will also incorporate experiential exercises as part of the learning process.

For more information or to register for this workshop: Please contact me at, or go to

Cost: $150,  6 CE’S available


Both workshops and the lecture will be help at the Rosen Center, 825 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, CA 94710


BILL BOWEN, is a body psychotherapist in private practice in Portland, Oregon. He is the founder and director of Psycho-Physical Therapy. His unique therapeutic method has evolved from his 35 years of experience working with the creative process, body therapy, somatic psychology and spirituality.

Central to this work is the exploration of the mind/body interface, the establishment of centering presence, and helping clients re-establish optimal psycho-physical resources necessary to live peaceful and integrated lives.

Bill was a co-founder, with Pat Ogden, of the Hakomi Integrative Somatics.

Bill was a founding member of the Northwest Coalition of Body-Psychotherapy.

Understanding Couples Therapy

February 5th, 2012

The first thing to keep in mind about understanding couples therapy is that all couples fight. John Gottman’s research shows us that the success of a relationship or marriage does not depend on the number of fights a couple has. Successful relationships depend on a couples’ ability to have more positive interactions than negative interactions and how they work with each other to manage their arguments.

One of the first steps in how work with couples is to help them realize and gain greater awareness of the “pattern” of their fights/arguments. For couples’ arguments tend to be repetitive in nature. So if you are having trouble arguing with your partner, you may notice that the “moves” of the fight are the same, it’s just the topic that changes.

When couples recognize that they have this pattern or “play book” that most their fights follow, they can then begin to discover how the pattern reinforces itself. It’s the tragedy of a struggling relationship; the attempts to solve the problem become the cause of the problem.

After gaining insight into the fight pattern itself, I then assist the couple in learning to recognize the deeper needs, beliefs, or pain driving the pattern. Once couple truly understands how they fight and what drives the fight, they know have the knowledge-power to do something about it.

This is the second phase of therapy, learning to turn towards each other and discuss what is really happening or needed without triggering the other into a defensive stance.

While couples are working on developing this understanding of their fights and learning the tools to change it, they need to simultaneously strengthen their positive feeling and behaviors towards each other, as well. Gottman’s research shows that successful couples have a positive to negative interaction ratio of greater than 6:1, while couples who ended up divorced or separated have a ration of less than 6:1. What this shows us is that while working on changing the fight pattern is important to create a safety and understanding; qualities like friendship, admiration, fondness, and respect for each other are equally important to the survival of the relationship.

Therefore, while half the focus of couples therapy is about understanding and working through what goes wrong, the other half has to do with really learning how to love each other in a much more impactful way.


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