Couples Therapy

Signs it's Time For Couples Therapy

Do you and your partner have a genuine, and serious, desire to get at what is at the root of your difficulties and stay there?

If so, I can help you.

Couples & Mental Health

It has been estimated that 40% of mental health referrals involve a marital problem 1. So if this is your challenge, you’re not alone. Relationship and marital problems are more common than you might think and both can increase the likelihood of a person experiencing anxiety and depression.

We are social beings wired for connection. Being in a fulfilling and satisfying relationship with another person is one of the greatest things that life has to offer. Unfortunately, for too many people, relationships and/or marriages end up being the opposite of what they want or desire.

You may know that something is wrong and believe that deep inside your partner is a good person, but the fighting, passive aggressiveness, outbursts, resentment, and contempt have gone on too long and it’s time to change something.

If what I am saying is resonating with you, please read on. I genuinely believe I can help you.

Jack N. Tawil, Annapolis Psychotherapist

My Job As Your Couples Therapist

As a couples therapist, I do not see my role as saving marriages and relationships, although that is often the result.  Rather, I see my role as helping you all work through your mutual challenges to make your own decisions about the fate of your relationship, whether it be to end, maintain, or continue.

I have enough experience to know that if I want something more than my clients, it simply does not help. All sound decisions come from inside. Solutions that a therapist offers are rarely as good as what comes from within the person and within the couple unit.

What Is Couples Therapy & How Does It Work?

The first thing to note is that couples therapy is not couples counseling. I know that the words therapy (short of psychotherapy) and counseling are often used interchangeably, and these modalities do overlap, but being aware of the differences is important.

Couples therapy is an emotionally intensive process by which a couple works with a highly skilled and well-trained psychotherapist for the goal of living and relating to each other in a deeply satisfying way that is enduring and lasting. Couples therapy works by helping each of you understand, face, and change the behaviors that are unhealthy and that lead to problems in your marriage or relationship.

Couples therapy puts a heavy emphasis on dealing with things on the unconscious level (out of your awareness) and on the conscious level (things you can easily see).

Research shows that upwards of 90% of human communication is non-verbal, so dealing with what is under the surface is critical to resolve problems that exist at a deeper, more enduring level.

This is also what primarily separates psychotherapy from counseling.

Couples therapy is about getting to, and working through, the root causes of your relationship struggle. It’s not just treating the symptoms. Symptoms are the easier part to treat, but without knowing the root causes and working through them, symptoms return. I want to help you create lasting change, not bandage a problem that will likely return.

I want to help you create lasting change, not bandage a problem that will likely return.

Couples Therapy: Frequently Asked Questions

Couples therapy is different from individual therapy in that the focus is on the couple as a unit and how each set of behaviors interplay to cause distress to the relationship.

Many people do go to individual therapy for relationship issues, but the sole focus would be on them and changing their behavior for the better. If you are not sure which kind of therapy you might need, reach out to a trusted professional who offers both services to get a better sense. Most psychotherapists are willing to provide a brief phone consultation to help you figure this out. Sometimes, it’s better for the couple to come in for an initial consultation for the determination to be made.

Be sure to ask if either option is available. This will help you determine if individual or couples therapy is better for you and your relationship.

It’s ideal to connect with a couples psychotherapist when the problems in your relationship begin to negatively impact your life as a couple and you are unable to solve the issues on your own.

Waiting until the problems become “too big to manage” or getting to a point of hopelessness and feeling like “nobody can help us” is not advisable. I have heard from couples who are about to leave each other only to hear that the problems have been brewing for years.

Dealing with things early in the process will prevent resentments (and sometimes contempt) from becoming too entrenched. The intervention provided by therapy also helps to reduce the number of things that are said or done that can never be erased or taken back.

The truth is, there isn’t a bad time to reach out. All couples, regardless of where they are in their relationship can get support for their relationship by starting couples therapy.

Unfortunately, I cannot provide a specific duration for how long you should attend. To say so would be disingenuous. Every couple is different and has different needs and thus the time commitments will vary. It will also depend on what each of you want out of the therapy and the relationship.

That said, most couples I treat achieve significant benefits within a few weeks to a few months. It can often take longer depending on the severity of the issues and what you judge to be a “benefit.”

Given that I specialize in Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy and have adapted this to couples, I do not believe in wasting time discussing things that are not relevant to getting better. I am not a “let’s chat about your life” kind of therapist. At the same time, I will hear you and “get” you as a couple and as individuals, just in a deeper, more genuine way. To waste time is to continue to suffer.

ISTDP is a model of therapy strongly grounded in attachment and psychodynamic theories. I am expertly trained and skilled at understanding a person’s attachment style and how early life experiences/conditioning have shaped their personality, behaviors, and their ways of relating to themselves and others.

Through intensive training, I am also highly skilled in radical empathy and the ability to bear, accept, and work with uncomfortable emotions that can get activated in therapy.

ISTDP is evidence-based and has been shown to be effective with a variety of mental health disorders. Over 40 research studies support its effectiveness.  I have adapted my training as an ISTDP therapist to working with couples. The couples therapy that I provide could aptly be called “attachment-based couples therapy.”

It is also important to know that with your consent, I videotape my sessions.

This incredibly practical addition to therapy allows me to see, not interpret, what is happening between you and your partner. It supports better treatment outcomes and longer-lasting results. Videotaping and reviewing our sessions is one thing that sets me apart from many other couples therapists. I spend a lot more time on clients than most therapists do.

The treatment I provide is not technique driven. The mainstay of my work is helping both of you see yourselves as a couple, yourselves as individuals, and your problems in a way that is authentic and organic. Although I will sometimes provide advice and strategies, it is not the mainstay of what I do. Rather, whatever you pick up will be through the frame of relating to each in the session in a deeply experiential way.

If you are looking for someone to give practical solutions and advice about how to relate better, then I am likely not the therapist for you. I mainly draw from the frame of experiential psychodynamic theory and practice to guide my work.

Sessions start in an unstructured way by hearing from both of you about the problems that you want help with. We go from there. Structure of sessions will come together as I learn more about the both of you and the problems that develop. Most sessions are 55-90 minutes long and we always meet in person in my Annapolis office.

  • Recognize and regulate your own anxiety
  • Recognize your own feelings
  • Recognize your own defense mechanisms
  • Recognize how those defense mechanisms contribute to fighting and conflict in your relationship
  • Feel your own emotions
  • Experience emotions and put those emotions into action
  • Communicate more effectively to express your needs, ask for what you want and support your partner

Get In Touch With Me

If you’re ready for this kind of support, I would welcome the opportunity to work with you. My services are cash-based and I am accepting clients now.

My office is in Annapolis, MD and you can reach me for a consultation by calling (410) 562-9647 or sending me an email at mail@annapolispsychotherapy.com