Like most people I use the terms couples therapy and marriage counseling interchangeably.
While most NYC couples who seek therapy are married, many non-married couples seek therapy together as well.
Sometimes couples seek therapy as a way to decide if getting married makes sense for them, and sometimes people have been living together for many years and consider themselves to be ‘basically married’ due to their long term commitment to each other. (Of course this has been the case for years for lesbian and gay couples who only recently (and finally!) were granted the right to legally marry in NYC.)
No matter what the situation, helping couples to step back, re-connect and start communicating in ways that bring them closer (rather than perpetuating conflict and distance) is what couples therapy and marriage counseling are all about.
As I mention in my piece about NYC marriage counseling, people come to see me wanting to feel heard by their partner and desperately wanting less tension and conflict in the relationship. The problem is that they do not know how to get there. They’re stuck in repeated patterns that produce frustration and pain.
What I help people to understand in couples therapy are the emotional dynamics of the relationship and how they interact with the couple’s communication patterns. There are very specific things couples SHOULD be doing in their relationship and equally specific things couples SHOULD NOT be doing—if what they want is harmony, connection, teamwork and intimacy.
One of the things that the couples I work with benefit from is my supportive but straight-forward approach. I prefer not to beat around the bush but instead to tell couples clearly what I think needs to happen in order for the relationship to heal, grow and get better.
There is no doubt that couples therapy works if couples are ready to do the work, individually and together, and I think it is quite simply the best investment a couple can make. I say this because not only do the individuals in the relationship reap the rewards that result from couples therapy, but the growth they experience has a ripple effect on their kids and other loved ones.
As I discuss elsewhere, the safe and respectful environment I create with my clients in couples therapy allows for new types of conversation, processing of emotions and constructive self-expression. And when couples prioritize the emotional dynamics and communication patterns in their lives, their overall life experience together gets better.
Throughout the years, my approach to marriage counseling has been deeply informed by many mentors, colleagues and writers—including Harville Hendrix’s Imago Relationship Therapy, John Gottman’s seminal research and Debra Tannen’s ground-breaking work on communication theory (You Just Don’t Understand).
Chris Kingman | Therapy
156 5th Avenue (at 20th St)
New York, NY 10010