Couples Therapy

Bird

In transformational Couples Therapy the therapist and the couple co-create a dynamic learning environment in which it is safe to be transparent. I help them to be mindful of the interplay between their feelings and thoughts and their awareness of their body. Defenses melt and authenticity grows with embodied self-awareness and greater capacity for physical and emotional intimacy.

Any presenting issue people face as a couple becomes an opportunity to learn to relate-to discover how to better express thoughts and feelings and hear those of their partner. With increased communication that is non-blaming and non-reactive, they see the way they are relating more clearly and their conflicts become less scary. Their closeness is restored as they hear and understand each other better.

By looking at a couple's pattern of interactions with them in a safe, intelligent, and nurturing learning environment, clarity emerges on what had been experienced as befuddling and overwhelming. Often the couple is looking for someone to help them break their cycle of fear, hurt, and anger that has them at an impasse.

My job is to help them find a way out of their dilemma by viewing them a-fresh with heart-felt "seeing" that begins to turn things around for them. I spend a good deal of time reframing what is being said to show them how they are actually reaching out to each other. Many couples take their perceived impasse, such as an extra-marital affair, and use it as a springboard for both individual and mutual growth. Sometimes couples find out that they have no viable basis for staying together, and therefore, I work with them toward having a healthy and caring separation.

My deep appreciation for my clients' worth and growing self-awareness is unshakeable. That, in and of itself, often helps couples to find the courage they need to move to more authentic interaction as they learn to work together on their marriage.

Individual Psychotherapy

Stream

Some of my clients are professionals and executives with demanding careers. Daily, they depend on their organizational skills (conceptualizing, diagnosing, strategizing, prioritizing, and managing time). But this orientation takes a toll on their emotional life and limits their availability to interact with loved ones or even to find partners. While respecting the demands on them in their professional life, I encourage their developing a natural bridge between work-life and emotional relatedness. By discovering and becoming truer to themselves, people can bring more of their natural self into every aspect of their life.

To this end, I work together with clients as partners to explore their habitual dynamics in an atmosphere of mindfulness, respect, and kindness. They come to feel safe enough to face their underlying discomfort. I challenge them when it is called for, with the sensitivity of a heightened awareness of their vulnerability and with the clear intent of bringing out the best in them. But I give more than just "feedback." I am authentic, that is "real," in the session and that moves them to honesty and an expanded self-awareness that is necessary for transformational change.

People come for therapy with a broad spectrum of relationship issues. Often I am working toward:

As people progress in their therapy and gain confidence in their ability to be self-reflective, they experience unexpected and profound realizations. They finally dislodge a painful and longstanding problem by getting underneath it. The resulting awareness frees them up to integrate this new understanding into their daily life. That's the larger picture. I invite you to want this for yourself, even if you don't think it could happen or don't know how to get there.

Somatic Psychotherapy

Rock In River Water

I combine traditional psychotherapy and somatic psychotherapy when, in the course of working with clients, it becomes clear to both of us that this would be beneficial. I utilize what I call Emotionally Focused Touch, a hands-on method that is especially relevant to healing trauma from physical and sexual abuse, as well as trauma from emotional abuse.

Emotionally Focused Touch calls forth the client's moment-to-moment awareness of the on-going interplay of emotion and sensation that is the foundation for real embodiment. With embodiment comes greater sensitivity to the relationship between non-verbal experience and its verbal expression. That is the value of Emotionally Focused Touch. This approach draws upon the findings of attachment theory, differentiation theory, neuroscience, and trauma research.

Please see my new book When Words Aren't Enough. It underscores the way our nonverbal experience connects us to ourselves.

The more a person inhabits his body, the better able he is to see his defensive structure as a pattern of attempts at self-protection that helped him survive childhood trauma or emotional deprivation. This awareness enables him to learn and develop new ways to respond physiologically, including emotionally. Being more at home in his body brings the client into the present, the only place where real healing can occur.

Emotionally Focused Touch, when included in individual psychotherapy, occurs in the second half of the two-hour meeting. In the first half of the session therapist and client are seated while talking through whatever distress motivated the client to seek help. The second half involves touching clients therapeutically, while they are lying on a bodywork table. They are either clothed or in a sports bra and shorts. Clients are coached on getting in touch with-and letting go of-the physical and emotional holding patterns by which they have attempted to manage earlier trauma. Typically after Emotionally Focused Touch, clients report feeling energized and freed-up in ways that they hadn't even been able to imagine before.

Touch is used to release the holding patterns reflected in the tightness of their musculature. But this is far from just a physical experience, because both therapist and client pay attention to the emotional and sensory landscape that is part of this process of release. Being nurtured through caring touch allows clients to feel the safety necessary to address the physical and emotional discomfort they may have been avoiding and to arrive at a place of greater self-awareness.

Talking and table work are seamlessly integrated throughout the session, mediated by the on-going conversation between therapist and client. In this powerful, gentle, and supportive process of developing greater self-awareness, individuals gain the knowledge and self-trust to make fundamental changes in themselves and in their life. The client then moves in the world with greater physical and emotional balance and ease.

I am available in Philadelphia and New York City for couples counseling and marital counseling with individuals and couples. Please contact me for more information and to make an appointment at matthew@matthewcohen.us.