We all come to relationships with our own stories about ourselves, about relationships, and about how to communicate our needs. We often learn about relationships from our families of origin, but those systems had their own problems and often don't work so well for us in our intimate relationships because they are bumping up against our partners' systems.
Melding two people’s stories is rarely completely smooth or simple. It is absolutely never too early in a relationship to attend counseling, it helps align our stories and give us the information we need to better care for ourselves, our partners, and our relationships.
Therapists at Protea Wellness work with clients in relationships on many different topics including increasing healthy communication, deepening connection, repairing old and new hurts, deepening intimacy (both physical and emotional), and learning how to set healthy boundaries.
Our therapists also specialize in working with couples who are experiencing or have experienced a loss and want to find their way towards each other through their grief.
"Non-Traditional " Relationships
At Protea Wellness, our therapists are dedicated to working with relationships that are outside the "norm". We are poly and open relationship -affirming, kink-knowledgeable, and LGBTQIA+ responsive.
We work with clients to:
Negotiate or renegotiate relationship structures
Explore what your relationship will be like after one member comes out as LGBTQIA
Prepare for the experience of medical/social gender transition of one partner
Increase loving communication and support in partnership in the face of systemic oppression.
Stan Tatkin's Psychobiological Approach to Couples Therapy (PACT) is the basis of Jennifer's work with partners. PACT was developed out of cutting-edge research in three areas: attachment theory, neuroscience, and the biology of human arousal. It uses the science of how our brains work in relationships to help partners form closer, more creative, loving relationships.
Attachment theory, also the foundation of Jennifer's work with individuals, explains the biological need to bond with others. It explains how our earliest relationships create blueprints that inform our sense of safety and security in adult relationships. Insecurities that we carry with us from those first relationships can wreak havoc for partners, usually completely unconsciously. PACT helps us understand our partner’s attachment trauma, and our own, and can help create more empathy for our partners (and ourselves!)
Neuroscience provides an understanding of how people act and react within relationships. Simply, some areas of our brains are wired to reduce threat, evade danger, and seek security, and others are wired to establish mutuality and loving connection to others.
The biology of human arousal explains the moment-to-moment ability to manage our energy, alertness, and ability to engage with others.
Jennifer uses these foundational PACT principles to guide you in overcoming challenges you face as a couple. In our work you will discover how to:
• keep each other safe and secure
• put the security-seeking parts of your brain at ease
• manage each other’s highs and lows
• please and soothe and inspire each other to stay connected
• fight well
• rekindle your love at any time
• minimize each other’s stress and optimize each other’s health
PACT therapy might look a bit different from other forms of relationship therapy you have experienced in the past. In PACT therapy, the partners are oriented towards each other; PACT therapy teaches partners to attune to each other. We focus on the process of what is happening and how to do it better, rather than the content of what isn’t going well. The first session of PACT therapy is a 2-hour long session that delves into childhood experiences of attachment.