Working with a relationship by inviting both partners into the room is a very exciting and rewarding form of my work. For some, this may seem too “exciting” if they feel exposed when they start reacting to their spouse. My helping skills and my personality help bring calm to these moments so that they can be transformative. Something extra takes place when the miracle of each person creates the synergy of a mutually gratifying relationship. Watching both partners find their voice within the relationship is inspiring both for the courage that is developed as well as the eloquence that flows naturally when a secure and life affirming relationship has been developed. When both partners are ready, reconciliation can be a heartfelt reward as satisfying as the individual work that it takes to get there.
My work in this area borrows from many practical forms of marital and family therapy. My understanding of people in relationship remains fundamentally psychodynamic and Christian. From the standpoint of treatment interventions, I find the approach of Dan Wile’s Collaborative Couples Therapy to be the most comfortable and productive. This approach has much in common with Emotion Focused Therapy. The preeminent researcher, John Gottman has referred to Dan as “the greatest living couples therapist.”
Research has shown that most couples wait to seek help seven years after the first time they consider it. I find that by the time couples come to see me, most partners truly want more intimacy but have lost hope because of the fallback measures that they resort to when communication starts to unravel. Reaction patterns take on a life of their own and partners end up feeling as if they have been tied in knots. My work is to create space for each person to look at the relationship from outside the fray. From there, each person can more easily find their own voice. My role often entails being a spokesperson for each partner until he or she develops the ability to do it for themselves.
Sometimes it is better to approach the question of how to be in a relationship by looking first to the question of how to be a person in each new moment. Individual therapy has it's own advantages and sometimes it is an helpful adjunct to the relationship work. To quote John Wellwood, “if relationships are difficult, it is because being human is difficult.” Positive change can be found from either direction: working on the relationship or working on the core issues of individual existence. Paying attention to some key indicators in your life will point out the best way to start. Let’s pay attention together.
What people say about Couples Therapy with Dr. Swan:
I value the freedom we find here to talk with each other and I really appreciate the coaching feedback that you give on what you see in our conversation… Having someone be there in our conversation as you are, is something we just don’t get anywhere else.”
“You are like a surrogate spouse to both of us. I learn when I see how you interact with my wife and she responds so much better. So I try to pick up the ways you listen to her. I listen for the types of things that you consistently hear in her conversation.”