Home 9 Relationship Counseling; Divorce, Affair Recovery

Do You Feel Discouraged, Defeated And Damaged By Relationships?​

  • Are you unceasingly single and questioning why it’s so hard for you to connect with others and find that someone special?
  • Are you lonely, dissatisfied or frustrated in yet another unhealthy relationship?
  • Do you feel like you and your partner or spouse are constantly fighting the same fight?
  • Does it feel like the love you once shared has lessened or disappeared altogether?
  • Have you recently gone through the pain of a divorce or a breakup and keep trying, without success, to make sense of what went wrong?
  • Do you wonder why other people seem to experience happy, fulfilling relationships while your relationships always fail?

The search for a healthy, satisfying relationship can be a frustrating and even heart wrenching experience. Failed relationships can erode confidence, leaving you feeling defeated and even cynical. A pattern of betrayals and disappointments can heighten these feelings and make it hard to open your heart and trust again. Or, perhaps you’ve struggled with shyness and social anxiety, making it hard to meet a potential partner although you long for connection and intimacy. It’s not uncommon to fall into a discouraging cycle of self-doubt, wondering why others enjoy successful relationships while you struggle.

Heartbreak Affects Us All

Divorce and break-ups are very common in our culture, and people get their hearts broken every day. It’s quite common to still be single or back in the dating scene in the mid to later years of adulthood. Many people are marrying later in life, and having to get used to new habits, sharing space, and really surrendering intimately to their spouse. If in a relationship or marriage, perhaps there is a disconnection due to outside stressors – problems with work or in-laws, mood disorders or substance abuse.

And, as we get older, it’s not uncommon to carry around the baggage accumulated over years of heartbreak and loss.

Dating can become more confusing, frustrating and even frightening when we’re older and also trying to juggle children and careers — on top of the pollutants of past heartbreak such as self-doubt, deflated confidence and difficulty with trust. Thankfully, there is hope and a way forward. With help, you can better understand who you are as well as what you need and desire. It is possible to develop the insights, composure and personal skills needed to maintain a healthy, nurturing relationship with yourself and others.

You may know that you need support and guidance, but still have questions and concerns about relationship counseling for individuals…

I feel totally defeated by relationships. I’m not sure that anything – even therapy – can help me.

After being single for a long time and/or after a multitude of failed relationship, it’s not uncommon to feel defeated. Hurts, betrayals and ongoing struggles to connect with others can lead to pessimistic thinking and a heightened need for self-protection. Unfortunately, the longer you wait, the more ingrained your problems become. Addressing your issues sooner rather than later will make your healing process much easier.

In a safe space, with the help of a thoughtful and experienced therapist, you can shift your thinking, work through painful emotions, set healing boundaries for yourself and develop patience. If you feel like your connection with your spouse is suffering, there are alternatives to separation. Especially if you have children, a home, and other responsibilities together, divorce can often create even larger problems. Couples counseling can provide you and your spouse with the tools you might be missing in reclaiming your love and connection. Regardless of your current situation, it is possible for you to create new patterns, increase your personal resiliency and better navigate personal challenges. You are not your past, and every moment is a new opportunity to learn, grow and be more present with yourself and others.

I’m ready for help, but I’m concerned about cost and the length of time therapy will take.

It can be helpful to think about relationship counseling for individuals as an investment in yourself. Feeling good about yourself and developing healthy and meaningful connections with others is an important part of your wellbeing. The stress created by strained and failed relationships, along with perpetual feelings of loneliness and self-doubt, can not only erode self-confidence, but also negatively impact other aspects of your life. By investing in yourself now, you are creating the opportunity to communicate more actively and positively with potential partners. In addition, the skills you learn in relationship counseling for individuals can increase your self-awareness, build confidence and lead to a more productive, empowered and authentic life.

Relationship Counseling Can Help You Build Confidence And Begin a Healthy Path Forward

Regardless of whether you have been single for years, moved from one failed relationship to another, are currently dating or are married to a partner who doesn’t meet your needs, there is help and hope. With the compassionate support and guidance of an experienced and nonjudgmental therapist, it is possible for you to dispel unhealthy patterns, build on your strengths and begin to feel good about yourself and all that you have to offer another.

Dr. Jane Baxter can help you identify, explore and address the thoughts, feelings and issues that are causing you to struggle within both your relationships with others and the relationship that you have with yourself. In a safe and confidential space free from distraction and interruption, we can begin to uncover potential blind spots and patterns of dysfunction that you may routinely bring to relationships or that keep you from seeking one out. If social anxiety is holding you back, we can explore strategies to help you engage in social situations, connect with others and build confidence. If you come in with a long list of failed relationships, we can explore the types of partners that you choose and why, and consider past experiences and issues that may contribute to fearful and damaging patterns of thought and behavior.

As we explore what keeps you from finding and/or maintaining a meaningful and satisfying relationship, we can also help you identify your strengths and devise ways for you to build upon them. You can discover who you want to be in relationships. You can learn how to express yourself clearly, develop the confidence to ask for what you need, and become more attuned to the needs of others. You’ll also have the space and support to work through the feelings that are causing you pain and/or holding you back. You can find ways to feel more visible and valuable and develop healthy and effective strategies to connect with others.

With support, as well as a willingness to learn about yourself, it is possible to break down old patterns, heal from past hurts, let go of self-limiting behaviors and find ways to connect with others in meaningful ways. While developing an understanding of relationships is a process, learning more about your patterns, fears, strengths and weaknesses is the first step toward finding and/or maintaining a healthy relationship.

I’m afraid that our therapist will take sides

A good couples therapist will take a side – the side of the relationship. And, the goal of affair recovery therapy is to get you, your partner and your relationship all on the same side. It is not Dr. Baxter’s job to judge or place blame, but, rather, to work as a team builder, help you build reinforcements and encourage honesty, curiosity and growth.

With over 17 years of experience specializing in couples counseling, I’ve learned that relationships are never black and white and that there are many factors that lead to infidelity. I incorporate the Psychobiological Approach to Couples Therapy (PACT ®) approach (see below), which finds its basis in scientifically driven ideas, techniques and exercises in marital and couples counseling.

I will help you build a strong foundation that you can draw from long after our therapeutic work is complete.

What is PACT?

For a couple, a secure relationship pact is committing to sensitivity and fairness. It is a “got-each-other’s-back-no-matter-what” agreement.

That’s why the PACT, or Psychobiological Approach to Couples Therapy, pioneered by renowned psychologist and relationship therapist Stan Tatkin, is so appropriately named.

The PACT approach to couples counseling combines the latest research with a whole-hearted desire to see you securely and deeply connected to the one you love. 

I’ve committed my professional career to helping couples improve their relationship and have loved integrating many excellent approaches (including pioneers of family therapy and marital research Minuchin, Schnarch, Johnson, and Gottman). I discovered PACT a few years ago and am impressed with what it encapsulates: this therapy is about loving action. It’s exciting, it’s challenging, it’s honest, and it’s real.

PACT is Grounded in Research:

  • PACT considers the human brain. Through neuroscience, PACT investigates the way certain parts of your brain are geared toward security, like-mindedness,
    ​and loving connection.
  • PACT addresses attachment theory. Examining your level of attachment to caregivers early in life shapes your understanding of security in adult relationships.
  • PACT factors in human arousal. This area of research looks at how you and your partner can motivate, soothe, and inspire each other rather than succumb to unchecked moods and emotions in the moment.
  • At its core, PACT is based on mutuality. Mutuality is the idea that at the end of the relationship day, both partners win. In other words, the agreements between you and your partner are good for both of you. 

PACT skills are meant to help you:

  • Gain your partner’s attention (without nagging or threats)
  • Connect on a deep level with your partner.
  • Make you feel wanted, understood and secure.
  • Know how to navigate conflict without avoidance or fear.

It’s the “show me you love me therapy” required for a secure relationship.

PACT helps you show, rather than tell, your partner how you feel.

Together, you do the work of learning each other’s signals and body language too. You actively help each other feel loved.

Tatkin, the founder of this theory asserts the idea that couples function best when they create a “couple bubble.” It’s a “we” identity that works for both of them.

How The Couple Bubble works:

  • You set mutually created boundaries. 
  • You shield yourselves from the things that can harm your relationship in the outside world.
  • You develop a relationship mission statement.

Together, you stand for something. You’re a unit. You rely on, influence, and take care of each other. You establish secure relationship functioning.

You purposefully build a sense of security, including rules of engagement such as:

  • We’re available for each other.
  • We confide in each other and support one another.
  • We don’t belittle or embarrass each other in public.

Deep trust, comfort, and the ability to resolve conflict satisfyingly is created.

PACT is An Evolving Model of Couples Therapy

Stan Tatkin continues to integrate new research and new strategies into the PACT counseling model. It’s an evolving work that will continue as you and your partner evolve together. It helps create the secure relationship of your dreams.

How Couples Counseling Works Using the PACT Approach

Initial Phase:

In the first few counseling sessions we discuss your personal and family history, identify your relationship concerns, and set goals to improve your relationship.

Results: You will have a much better understanding of each other’s needs as well as conflict management and attachment styles.

The Work Phase:

In this phase you and your partner will decide what agreements (pacts) you will make for your relationship. You will also decide on “the rules you will play by” to keep your relationship fair and fulfilling.

Results: You will be better able to “read” each other and respond to each other in ways that fulfill each other’s needs.

The Follow-up Phase:

We have sessions less frequently to monitor your progress and help you sort out areas where you still may be having difficulty or occasionally get stuck.

Results: The progress you have made in therapy will be strengthened. Your confidence will increase and your new ways of being together will feel natural.

Dr. Jane Baxter provides services in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. If you want to find out more about how couples counseling using the PACT approach can help you improve your relationship contact Dr. B via email:janebaxterphd@gmail.comor 202-744-4381; she will discuss any questions or concerns you may have about couples and marriage counseling.

Professional Activities and Memberships

Member of the American Academy of Psychotherapists

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