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Happy Black Couple Embracing one another under a beautiful tree. Happy after successful couples therapy

Couples Therapy

Struggling in Your Relationship?
Couples Counseling With a Certified Gottman Therapist Can Help

Many couples experience challenges that strain their connection. Loneliness, isolation, constant arguments, and a lack of intimacy can leave you feeling lost and disconnected. If this sounds familiar, you're not alone. As a Certified Gottman Method Therapist, I can help you reconnect and thrive in your relationship.  I specialize in LGBTQ couples therapy.

Do You Feel Like You've Fallen out of Love?

  • Do you love your partner/spouse but no longer like him or her?

  • Is your marriage relationship in trouble?

  • Communication problems?

  • Are you at a loss as to what to do next?

These feelings are more common than you might think. Many couples experience periods of disconnect and struggle to communicate effectively. The good news is, there's hope for improvement. The Gottman Method, which I utilize in therapy, is specifically designed to address communication issues in relationships.  For a deeper dive into the Gottman Method, visit our dedicated information page.

black Couple sitting on the couch facing away from each other clearly frustrated with their relationship
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Signs You Need Couples Therapy

  • Do you feel lonely or disconnected from your partner?

  • Are arguments a constant source of stress?

  • Is it difficult to solve problems together?

  • Has intimacy and romance faded away?

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, couples therapy can be a powerful tool for positive change.

How Couples Therapy Can Help

​I can help you

  • Improve communication and listen to each other more effectively.

  • Rebuild trust and strengthen your emotional connection.

  • Address specific concerns like finances, parenting, or in-laws.

  • Learn healthy conflict management skills to overcome challenges together.

  • Gain a deeper understanding of each other's needs and perspectives.

Black woman and Asian woman in LGBTQIA friendly couples therapy sittting on a couch together holding hands
Black couple holding hands

The Gottman Method

The Gottman Method isn't just another couples therapy approach. It's a roadmap to rediscovering the love and connection that brought you together in the first place. Developed by renowned therapists Drs. John and Julie Gottman, this evidence-based approach goes beyond simply resolving arguments. It equips you with the tools to build a strong foundation for a lasting relationship.

Imagine being able to truly listen to your partner, understand their needs, and express your own in a way that fosters understanding and closeness. That's the power of the Gottman Method. Through a series of exercises and techniques, you'll learn to:

  • Build "Love Maps": Develop a deeper understanding of your partner's world – their hopes, dreams, fears, and stresses.

  • Turn Towards Bids for Connection: Recognize and respond to your partner's attempts to connect, fostering a sense of security and emotional intimacy.

  • Manage Conflict Constructively: Learn to navigate disagreements in a healthy way, focusing on solutions rather than blame.

By addressing the root causes of conflict and nurturing a deeper emotional connection, the Gottman Method empowers you to reconnect and thrive as a couple.

What to Expect in Couples Therapy with Me

Therapy with me begins with a thorough assessment, including the Gottman Relationship Checkup and initial sessions to understand your unique situation. Together, we'll develop a personalized treatment plan to address your specific needs and goals. Sessions typically involve both partners and may include individual sessions as needed.

Remember, the average couple waits 6 years after recognizing problems before seeking help. By addressing challenges sooner, couples therapy can help you prevent further strain and rediscover a stronger connection.

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Step-by-Step What to Expect

Gottman Method Therapy Process

 Assessment Phase 

Gottman Relationship Checkup - 60-90 min

This online assessment is an opportunity to provide specific information about your perspective on the current state of your relationship plus individual history, current functioning, and family history.

Session 1:

The Joint Interview

90 minute session

We’ll explore the details of your relationship history as a couple including hard times and good times.

Session 2:

Individual Interviews

90 minutes, split into two 45-minute sessions

Each of you will meet with me individually.  During each session, I will obtain more detailed information about your personal and family history and experiences.

Session 3:

Feedback Session

90 minutes, split into two 45-minute parts

During the Feedback session, I will provide you with written feedback which is a snapshot of your relationship based on your joint interview, individual interviews, and the Gottman Relationship check-up.  This includes the challenges and strengths observed in your relationship and pathways for moving toward healing and repairing your relationship.  This may take about half of the session. If enough time remains we can begin the active intervention couple’s therapy process.


Once the assessment process is complete, I will utilize the Gottman Method as the primary modality and base for interventions.  I will also utilize concepts from other modalities such as Accelerated Dynamic Psychotherapy for Couples (AEDPfc), Interpersonal Neurobiology for Couples, Internal Family Systems for Couples and Brainspotting. Each intervention used will be purposed to help you repair, revitalize, rejuvenate, and strengthen your relationship.  This includes the crucial tasks of rebuilding trust and gaining a greater understanding of each other.

Couples Therapy Options

Specific Issues Addressed in Couples Therapy

Below are the common topics I help couples with during the relationship counseling process
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Communication Problems

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Drug Addiction

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Conflict Resolution

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Affair | Infidelity

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Perpetual Problems

Couples Therapy Fees

West Coast Psychotherapy does not take insurance

Couples Therapy Required Assessment

(3) 90-min sessions ea: $450 per session (total $1,350)

Weekly Couples Therapy Sessions

Option 1(recommended):

  • 90-min session - $450

Option 2:

  • 75-min session - $400

*These are fees for weekly therapy. See the Couples Retreat & Intensive Couples Therapy page for specific pricing.

Extended Couples Therapy

In-Person Only at the Oakland office or within a 2 hour drive. Occurs 1x or 2x per month.

Extended Session Options

Option 1: (2) 90-minute sessions with a break $900

Option 2: (2) 90-minute sessions within a 2-hour drive of Oakland, CA - $1200

*These are fees for local extended therapy. See the Couples Retreat & Intensive Couples Therapy page for pricing on destinations.

Black couple with woman with arms crossed in the foreground looking frustrated at a communication breakdown

Communication Problems

What is Communication (Really)?

Traditional definitions, like those from Merriam-Webster and The Business Dictionary, focus on the exchange of information or ideas. But in a relationship, communication goes deeper. It's about sharing not just words, but also feelings, needs, and experiences. It's about truly connecting and understanding your partner on a deeper level.

Here at West Coast Psychotherapy, I define communication as the exchange of energy and information that builds connection and fosters a sense of shared reality within a relationship.

Two white figures holding up cups attached to a string attempting to communicate

Why Do Couples Struggle to Communicate?

Many factors contribute to communication breakdowns:

  • Unmet Needs: When needs aren't communicated clearly, resentment can build.

  • Negative Communication Patterns: Habits like criticism, defensiveness, stonewalling, and contempt (The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, as identified by Gottman and Gottman) create a toxic environment.

  • Lack of Listening Skills: Truly listening involves not just hearing words, but also paying attention to nonverbal cues and understanding the emotions behind what's being said.

How Does Couples Therapy at West Coast Psychotherapy Help with Communication?

Couples therapy can equip you with the tools to communicate effectively. Here's what you can expect:

  • Identifying Communication Patterns: We'll work together to recognize unhealthy patterns that hinder communication (specifically the four horsemen of the Apocalypse in Gottman Couples Therapy).

  • Developing Active Listening Skills: I'll teach you tools for truly listening to your partner and understanding their perspective.

  • Expressing Needs Assertively: You'll learn to communicate your needs in a clear, respectful, and non-blaming way.

  • Building a Foundation for Healthy Conflict Resolution: Communication skills enable you to navigate disagreements constructively and find solutions together.

A black couple arguing with each other in the kitchen desperately in need of conflict resolution therapy

Conflict Resolution

From Gridlock to Growth

Conflict is a natural part of any relationship. But for many couples, it can feel overwhelming and destructive. I take a different approach: I help you manage conflict as a path to deeper understanding and connection.

The Conflict-Free Relationship Myth

Two of the biggest mistakes couples make are to believe that conflict is bad and try to have a conflict-free relationship or marriage. This is an impossible task when we have two individuals together, each with their own needs, perspectives, and experiences.  In reality, healthy relationships involve navigating disagreements constructively.

Happy Couple Gay holding hands in front of the ocean - LGBTQ Couples therapy

Conflict Resolution Skills You'll Learn

Through couples therapy, you'll learn valuable skills for managing conflict, including:

  • Softened/Gentle Start-up: Approach disagreements with respect and understanding.

  • Repair and De-escalation: Identify and address negativity early to prevent escalation.

  • Physiological Self-Soothing: Manage your own emotions during conflict to create space for productive conversation.

  • Accepting What You Cannot Change: Learn to appreciate your partner's unique perspective, even if it differs from yours.

  • Accepting Your Partner's Influence: Be open to compromise and find solutions that work for both of you.

Conflict doesn't have to be the enemy. By learning to manage it effectively, you can create a stronger, more resilient relationship.

Conflict doesn't have to be the enemy.By learning to manage it effectively,you can create a stronger, moreresilient relationship.

Two people embracing but looking at their own phones showing the detachment in their relationship and the need for couples therapy

Therapy for Affairs and Infidelity

Infidelity is a devastating blow to any relationship. I understand the profound pain and betrayal it causes. Through the Gottman Method, I offer a structured framework for healing and rebuilding trust:

Identifying Underlying Issues: We'll explore the factors that may have contributed to the infidelity, such as emotional disconnect, destructive communication patterns, or unmet needs.

The Gottman Trust Revival Method: This three-phase approach guides couples through the Atonement, Attunement, and Attachment stages, fostering remorse, empathy, and a renewed sense of connection.

Rebuilding Trust: We'll equip you with the tools to communicate effectively, manage difficult emotions, and rebuild trust through consistent actions and transparency.

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While healing after infidelity is a long and challenging journey, I can provide the support and guidance you need to move forward, together.

A bunch of drugs in different forms on the floor including money, syringe and pills

Couples Therapy for Drug Addiction or Alcohol Abuse

Couples grappling with the impact of drug or alcohol addiction often feel lost and unsure of where to turn. While individual support is crucial, navigating the complex challenges and negative consequences within the relationship requires specialized guidance. West Coast Psychotherapy offers a comprehensive approach that combines the Gottman Method with addiction recovery support:









Understanding Addiction: We'll educate you on the nature of addiction, its impact on the brain and behavior, and the importance of professional treatment for your partner.

Addressing Denial: We'll help both partners recognize and address denial, a significant barrier to recovery.

Moving from Active Addiction to Recovery: We'll guide you through a structured process to support your partner's journey towards sustained sobriety.

Conflict Management: Learn healthy communication skills to navigate the emotional turmoil that often arises during recovery and rebuild a foundation of trust.

Setting Boundaries: We'll equip you with tools to establish healthy boundaries that protect yourself and the relationship from the destructive effects of addiction.

Relationship Recovery Plan: We'll collaborate with you to develop a plan that strengthens your relationship while supporting your partner's individual recovery journey.

Healing from Addiction: We'll address the negative consequences of addiction and guide you both towards personal and relational healing.

Building a Healthy Future: We'll work towards establishing individual and couple well-being, fostering a supportive family environment if children are involved.

Heal and Rebuild Your Relationship From Drug Addiction

West Coast Psychotherapy provides a safe and supportive space for couples to heal and rebuild their relationship while supporting the individual's recovery journey. Remember, healing from addiction is a long-term process, but with the right support and guidance, couples can emerge stronger and more connected.

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Couples Therapy for Trauma

Trauma can have a profound impact on individual lives and, consequently, on relationships. Couples therapy that incorporates a trauma-informed approach can provide invaluable support for navigating the unique challenges faced by partners who have experienced traumatic events.

West Coast Psychotherapy offers a safe and understanding space for couples to process trauma and thrive despite its effects.

What is Trauma and How does it Impact Your Relationship?
  • Defining Trauma: We'll define trauma as the emotional result of an event where you felt helpless, frightened, and in danger, often accompanied by a sense of emotional and physical isolation. While most people heal from traumatic events, some individuals experience lasting negative consequences.

  • Impact on Relationships: Trauma can be highly disruptive to relationships, as individuals may exhibit symptoms like anxiety, fear, anger, irritability, unpredictability, and problematic substance use.

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How Couples Therapy Helps Those Who Experienced Trauma

  • Understanding Trauma's Impact on Your Relationship: I'll guide you in understanding how trauma affects each partner and the relationship dynamics as a whole.

  • Managing Trauma Symptoms: Learn to identify and manage triggers that may lead to emotional dysregulation or conflict. Develop healthy coping mechanisms to navigate these challenges effectively.

  • Meeting Needs: I'll equip you with communication skills to express your needs clearly and work towards fulfilling each other's needs in a supportive manner.

  • Conflict Management: Learn healthy conflict resolution strategies to address issues constructively, even when triggered by past trauma.

  • Processing Past Events: I'll create a safe space to process past regrettable incidents that were influenced by trauma symptoms, fostering understanding and forgiveness.

  • Building Meaning Together: Through open communication, shared experiences, and healthy coping mechanisms, couples can build a more resilient and supportive partnership, fostering healing and growth together.

Happy Couple in an embrace after couples therapy

Healing From Trauma is a Journey

Couples therapy can provide the tools and support needed to navigate this path together. By addressing the impact of trauma within the relationship, couples can emerge stronger and more connected.

Couples Therapy for Perpetual Problems

Did you know that research by renowned relationship experts John and Julie Gottman suggests that as many as 69% of conflicts experienced in relationships are what they call "perpetual problems"? These recurring issues can create frustration and distance, making couples feel stuck in an endless loop of arguments and disconnection.  At West Coast Psychotherapy, we understand the toll these issues can take on a relationship.

What are Perpetual Problems?

Perpetual problems are not necessarily dealbreakers, but they can be challenging because they often stem from deeper differences in personality, values, or communication styles.  They might involve finances, chores, in-laws, or parenting disagreements.

Perpetual Relationship Problems - Man with hands on head - partner in background
Hands reaching out to touch each other symbolizing fixing issues in couples therapy

How Couples Therapy Helps with Perpetual Problems

Couples therapy can equip you with the tools to navigate these challenges effectively. Here's how West Coast Psychotherapy can help:

  • Understanding the Underlying Issues: We'll help you identify the deeper needs and emotions driving the conflict.

  • Shifting Communication Patterns: Learn to communicate in a way that fosters empathy and understanding, rather than blame and defensiveness.

  • Developing Conflict Resolution Skills: Equip yourselves with tools to address disagreements constructively and find solutions that work for both partners.

  • Building a Shared Vision: We'll guide you in rediscovering your shared goals and values, strengthening the foundation of your relationship.

Couples therapy can provide the tools and support needed to navigate this path together. By addressing the impact of trauma within the relationship, couples can emerge stronger and more connected.

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Take the Next Step

Let's create a happier and healthier relationship together.  Schedule your free consultation with me today!

Couples Therapy | LGBT Couples Therapy

Oakland | Berkeley | Alameda | San Francisco Bay Area | CA

Relationship Therapy to save or improve your marriage or relationship

Weekly Counseling | Extended Sessions | House Calls

Private Couples Therapy Weekend Retreats 

Couples therapy can help if  you are experiencing any of the following in your relationship:


Frustrating arguments
Difficulty solving problems
Lack of intimacy and romance

If yes, are you willing to work as if you’re training for a marathon to make changes in your relationship? 

This means a true commitment to yourself and your partner to transform the dynamics and patterns in your relationship.

Does couples therapy work?

The answer is yes but....
In order to improve or save your relationship or marriage you absolutely must be willing to change the negative unhelpful narrative or story that you tell yourself about your spouse/partner.

Many couples show up to couples counseling with the following idea more or less - "I am fine. Please fix my partner or spouse as they are the problem and then all will be well.  Also please do this in the least amount of time and as cheaply as possible.

Relationship Counseling | Oakland | San Francisco Bay Area | CA

Couples Therapy for Communication Problems

Communication is the number one reason couples request relationship counseling.  But what exactly is communication?
How come so many couples struggle with this issue?

What is communication in couples therapy?
According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary communication is “a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior”

The Business Dictionary defines communication as “Two-way process of reaching mutual understanding, in which participants not only exchange (encode-decode) information, news, ideas and feelings but also create and share meaning. 


In general, communication is a means of connecting people or places. In business, it is a key function of management--an organization cannot operate without communication between levels, departments and employees. See also communications.”

I define communication as the exchange of energy and information between two people.  A relationship or marriage cannot operate without communication.

The relationship communication process can go awry quite quickly for numerous reasons.  John Gottman, PhD and Julie Schwartz Gottman, PhD the creators of the Gottman Method for Couples Therapy identified 4 communication patterns that when present will predict the communication process will spiral downward within 90 seconds. 


The Gottmans refer to these 4 communication patterns as the The Four Horsemen of Apocalypse.  Yes, this alludes to the death and destruction found in the Book of Revelation in the bible but this is where the connection ends.


The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse also predict divorce or relationship demise or destruction within 5 years with over 90% accuracy hence the reference and name.

What does couples therapy to save or improve your marriage or relationship look like with me?

The Gottman Method Couples Therapy Process

The Couples Therapy Assessment Phase includes:

The Gottman Relationship Checkup is completed online. (Takes about 90 minutes to complete)

The First Couples Therapy Session - 90 minutes:
A joint interview with the couple to obtain history and to get a narrative about your relationship.

The Second Couples Therapy Session - Two Parts - 45 minutes each for a total of 90 minutes
An individual interview with each of you to learn more about you individually. 


The Third Couples Therapy Session -  90 minutes - split into two parts
Part One - Feedback (about 45 minutes):

Provide feedback based on the first two sessions and your answers from the Gottman Relationship Checkup.  A blueprint of how to move forward and what to address are developed during this session. (About 45 minutes)

Part Two - The Intervention Process begins (about 45 minutes):

The relationship counseling process takes it’s natural course based on the couple’s commitment and participation.  I begin to actively help the couple repair, revitalize and rejuvenate their relationship.

Couples Therapy Fees

The assessment - Three 90-minute sessions - $450 per session = $1,350 total.

Once the assessment (first three sessions) is completed: 
Option 1: $450 per 90 minute session (recommended)

Option 2: $400 per 75 minute session
Option 3: $330 per 60 minute session

~The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse~
& How To Avoid Them


When you describe your partner/spouse in a way that says there is something wrong with her/him. They are defective in some way or have a flaw in their character.

Example of criticism: 

What’s wrong with you?  Why can’t you just clean up the kitchen after you eat?  You’re so lazy.


Antidote - What to do instead

  • Use a gentle start-up

  • Gosh, the kitchen is messy. I would really appreciate if you clean up after you’re done eating.


An attempt to protect yourself.  This is the typical response to being criticized. Your position is defended against actual or anticipated feedback or criticism.


Example of Defensiveness

It goes something like this “I worked hard today.  Why can’t I just leave dishes in the sink for a few minutes.  It’s not even that bad”

Antidote - What to do instead

  • Take responsibility even for a small portion of the issue or problem.

  • Oh, yes, I did leave dishes in the sink. (That’s it nothing else at this point)


Criticism with a morally superior attitude.

Example of contempt
What’s wrong with you? Why can’t you just clean up the kitchen after you eat?  You’re such a lazy slob.  I work hard all day and I came home made dinner and cleaned up the kitchen after I was done because I actually have manners and respect for others.


Antidote - What to do instead

  • State your own feelings, needs and wants.  This can be quite challenging because you have to know what your own needs and wants are and then state them in a non critical, non defensive and non contemptuous ways.

  • I feel really flustered when the kitchen is messy.  I would really appreciate it if you could clean up once you’re finished eating.


Sometimes you may be tempted to say "I feel that you’re a lazy slob who should clean up."  This is still problematic as you’re describing your partner/spouse. 


Stay away from statements that start with “I feel that you” especially as you begin to practice the antidotes to the Four Horsemen.

When one person checks out or withdraws from the conversation because the person has become overwhelmed or physiologically flooded. When the person who is stonewalling is acting as if you’re not there your own emotional upset and anger can increase exponentially.  This can then cause you to check out and became physiologically flooded.


Example of Stonewalling:
You're talking to your partner and s/he just stares back at you not saying a word. Perhaps s/he looks away or at their watch etc.  Sometimes s/he may have a blank look or confused look on their face.

Antidote - What to do instead

  • First try to remain in the conversation. 

  • If you're not able to do that STOP the conversation with a simple “I am sorry, I am not able to talk right now.  I need to take a break.”

  • Then take break for at least 30 minutes.  The purpose of the break is to self soothe/calm yourself down.

Physiologically flooded means that our pulse is over 100 beats per minute or over 80 beats per minute for those that are quite athletic.  In this state we are biologically unable to have a productive conversation.  The option is to self soothe.

Self Soothe for at least 30 minutes
Do something to relax such as listening to soothing music, reading your favorite magazine, working in your garden etc.  The idea is to calm down.


DO NOT go and gather more ammunition by thinking about all the things you could have said and then come back ready to emotionally blast your partner/spouse. 


Try not engage in thoughts such as “Why is s/he doing this to me?” which is called innocent victimhood or thoughts of righteous indignation “I don’t have to put up with this *^*&%%*^.”

Gottman Couples Therapy teaches the couple how to master the antidotes to The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Once you've got the antidotes down, you have started the process of changing your communication patterns in your relationship or marriage.

As a Certified Gottman Method Couples Therapist this is how I can help you master the communication problems in your relationship.

I will review the Four Horsemen and help you to see how they invade and impact your relationship or marriage.  I will teach you how to implement the antidotes until you’re able to implement the antidotes on your own.  


I will teach you to help each other implement the antidotes when a horsemen is used as you talk with each other as a couple.

Gottman Method Couples Therapy teaches the couple how to successfully manage conflict in your relationship or marriage

Many couples struggle to manage conflict.  Two of the biggest mistakes that couples make are to believe that conflict is bad and try to have a conflict free relationship or marriage. 


This is an impossible task when we have two individuals together. 


The Gottman Method of Couples counseling provides a pathway to successfully manage conflict versus resolve conflict. 


You will learn skills in the following areas:

  • How to dialogue about problems

  • How to accept your partner’s Influence

  • How to Self Soothe

You will learn to identify the two types of problems that are found in relationships or marriages. These are 1) perpetual problems and 2) solvable problems.

Couples Therapy Oakland | Berkeley | Alameda | Albany | San Leandro | Near Me

Couples Therapy For Perpetual Problems.

About 69% of problems in a relationship or marriage are perpetual problems.  Yes this is correct 69% it is not a typo.  This means the vast majority of your relationship problems or marriage problems will never go away. 

Perpetual problems are the result of fundamental personality differences or lifestyle needs.  Couples talk about the same problems over and over.  Sometimes there seems to be some headway about the problem and things seem to get better for a short time but only to have the problems re-emerge again and again. 

All couples have perpetual problems. 

The trick is to determine if you’ve got a set of perpetual problems that you can live with and learn how to discuss these problems without destroying each other and becoming gridlocked on the issues. 


This also means if you go into another relationship you’ll be trading one set of perpetual problems for a different set of perpetual problems.  This information is based on research conducted by John Gottman, PhD.  In other words I am not just making it up.

Couples Therapy For Gridlocked Perpetual Problems

When couples are unable to dialogue about their perpetual problems it leads to emotional disengagement.  One of the reasons that a person is not able to yield on a gridlocked problem is that there is a fundamental need or dream or value system that is core to that person’s personality. 


Creating a safe atmosphere in the relationship allows the partner to talk about their feelings, needs and dreams. 

As the Gottmans say “within the worst relational conflicts lie the greatest opportunities for growth and intimacy” 

Couples Therapy for Solvable Problems

Solvable problems are typically situational and a solution can be determined and maintained.  One of the keys to resolving solvable problems is to avoid the use of the 4 horsemen. 


Solvable problems are often about specific issues such as house cleaning, discipline of children or sex.

The 6 Skills from Couples Therapy for managing conflict in a relationship or marriage

  1. Softened/Gentle Start up

  2. Repair and De-escalation

  3. Physiological Self Soothing

  4. Accept What You Cannot Change (understanding your partner’s way of thinking)

  5. Accept Your Partner’s Influence

  6. Compromise.

Couples Therapy
Affairs | Cheating | Infidelity

Of all the issues a couple may face infidelity/cheating/an affair whether emotional or physical is perhaps one of the worse as it rips at the very fabric of the relationship.


The feelings are wide ranging when a person who believes that s/he/they are in a monogamous relationship finds out there has been a betrayal.


The person who has been betrayed frequently ends up traumatized and in many cases develops Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  Affairs wreak havoc on relationships.

However, before going further there is something that folks have to figure out.  If there has been an affair you have to determine if you’re involved with someone who cheated or you’re involved with a cheater.


What’s the difference between someone who cheated and a cheater?

Someone who has cheated
This person forms a relationship with another person that infringes on the boundaries of the primary relationship. 

It starts out innocently enough.

The person begins to confide in, flirt with, keep the relationship secret from their partner/spouse and begin to share negative comparisons of their partner/spouse with the other person.


This person finds the new person more exciting, easier to talk with, and more understanding among other things.  This is the beginning of an emotional affair and often cascade to a physical affair.

One question to ask yourself is “how would you feel if your partner was engaging in these behaviors?”

Check out the Someone Who Cheats Cascade.

A Cheater
Someone who has no intention of being in a monogamous relationship but will pretend that s/he/they want to be in one. 


This person may or may not keep other relationships secret. 


If found out this person expects their spouse/partner to understand and not make a big deal about it.


Please note this is not the same as a polyamorous relationship in which all partners agree on the parameters of the relationship.


Nor is this the same for those who agree to be in an open relationship.

Can a relationship recover from an affair?
The answer is YES BUT it requires a significant amount of commitment and hard work.

The Gottman Couples Therpy
Trust Revival Method
The Affair Recovery System

The Three Distinct Phases of Recovery From An Affair 

  1. Atonement 

  2. Attunement

  3. Attachment. 

The Betrayed Partner

  • May have tons of questions regarding the affair. 

  • Will most likely want to ask questions about the affair(s).  

  • The who, what, where, when and how is talked about.

  • This is the very beginning to the healing process as often this is a corrective experience for the betrayed partner to obtain validation that s/he was not crazy.

  • Frequently when an affair is occurring the betrayer engages in behaviors that leaves the betrayed partner feeling as if s/he is going crazy. 

  • Sex related questions are not permitted as these often result in increased trauma for the betrayed partner.  

  • The “WHY” of the affair is not examined in this phase as it often results in the betrayed partner feeling or being blamed.


The Betrayer

  • Be completely open, honest and transparent with her/his answers to the questions posed by the betrayed partner. 

  • Must cut off all contact with the affair person

  • The entire sordid truth.

  • Becomes an open book - total access to emails, cell phones and any contact with the affair person must be shared

  • This is NOT the time to pull a “Bill Clinton” by mincing words, glossing over or minimizing the details and impact of the affair

  • Listen empathically and express deep and real remorse

The Couple

  • Ends conflict avoidance

  • Creates a narrative about how the affair came about

  • Couple learns to turn towards each other’s bids for emotional connection

  • Replace negativity such as trash talking about your partner and resentments with appreciation, cherishing and gratitude.

  • Establish yourself as a couple through a set of norms in a community that supports your relationship.


The couple

  • Develops skills to talk about gridlocked perpetual issues

  • Learns and implements skills to have intimate conversations

  • Develops mutual investment, interdependence and sacrifices for the relationship.

  • Builds commitment and has a positive regard for each other and engages in pro-relationship activities.

  • Sets up a formal high cost for future betrayals.

  • Creates personal sex and intimate trust. This is usually one of the final building blocks in the repair and recovery process.

  • New shared meaning is brought into the relationship.

These complex processes are guided by me your expert Certified Gottman Method Couples Therapist and as they say on Myth Busters should not be tried at home.

Couples Therapy For Drug Addiction

Couples who are experiencing the impact of drug addiction or alcohol addiction are often at a loss as to how to proceed and how to get help.  Much of the help out there is geared towards individuals. Very little is directed at helping couples through the maze of problems and challenges, and negative consequences that result from drug addiction or alcohol addiction.

Have you been struggling with the negative consequences of addiction in your relationship or marriage?

Are you ready to commit to rebuilding your relationship or marriage by learning about addiction as a disease versus character failure?

Are you ready to commit to your own recovery process and the recovery process for your relationship?

Are you willing to make the sacrifices and changes needed to have the type of relationship you dream of?

Couples Therapy when drug or alcohol abuse or other addictions are present in the relationship:

  • Identify the addiction

  • Addiction is a treatable disease

  • Address denial

  • Develop a process to move from active addiction to recovery

  • Improve conflict management skills

  • Learn the difference between “codependency” and “interdependency” and how to identify and set appropriate boundaries

  • Develop a relationship recovery plan while supporting your partner’s recovery and strengthening your own individual recovery

  • Heal from the negative impact of addiction

  • Work towards health and wellness as individuals, as a couple and as a family if children are involved.

Couples Therapy when Trauma is present in the relationship:

What is trauma?
Trauma is the emotional result that occurs after a person has experienced an event in which the following occurred at the same time:

  • you felt helpless

  • the event was frightening, unexpected and occurred suddenly

  • you felt your life was at stake

  • you felt emotionally out of control

  • you felt isolated

It is the combination of the above that occurs at the time of the event that creates trauma.  While most people heal on heir own from traumatic events this does not always occur.

Trauma is highly disruptive to relationships because the person experiences and lives with high levels of anxiety and fear.  A person with trauma can be angry, irritable, unpredictable, impulsive, constantly scanning for danger or looking at the negative and have problematic use of drugs and alcohol.  It is important to obtain professional treatment if you have experienced trauma and it is still negatively impacting your relationship or marriage.

How does couples therapy help those who have experienced trauma

Couples learn: 

  • how trauma impacts their relationship or marriage

  • how to manage the symptoms of trauma when they occur

  • learn how to have their needs met

  • Learn how to manage conflict

  • Process past regrettable incidents that were compounded by symptoms of trauma

  • Create meaning together despite trauma.

Call Now

To schedule a complimentary 15 minute phone consultation to see if couples therapy with me is a match for your relationship or marriage

LGBT Relationship Therapy | Oakland | Alameda | Berkeley | San Francisco Bay Area | CA
LGBT Couples Therapy | Oakland | Alameda | Berkeley | San Francisco Bay Area | CA
Marriage Counseling | Oakland | Alameda | Berkeley | San Francisco Bay Area | CA

Find a Gottman trained therapist in your area:
The Gottman Referral Network


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