Susan Berger MFT, Psychotherapist, Marriage and Individuals Counseling

Psychotherapy for Couples
(Marriage Counseling)

Some Questions You Might Have About Couples Therapy:

What kind of problems do couples deal with in therapy?

Communication: This can take the form of too much hostility, anger and conflict, or conversely, it can take the form of silence, depressive feelings, withdrawal, hopelessness or deadness in the relationship. Problems in communication frequently are connected to sexual difficulties as well.

Extramarital Affairs: The discovery of an affair can be a shocking and shattering experience. However, contrary to what you may have thought, it doesn't necessarily mean the end of your marriage. Unfortunately, without therapy, many couples that stay together after an affair never really deal with all of the issues involved. This can result in a feeling of disconnection between the two of you. Marriage counseling can help you and your partner process the traumatic aftermath of the revelation, as well as develop a deep understanding of why the affair has occurred. Going through the therapy process can help create a new and long lasting bond.

Commitment: Taking the next step, whether it be monogamy, cohabitation, marriage, or starting a family can bring up new concerns and issues. The two of you might need to explore unconscious expectations and fears, values, lifestyle differences, money management, extended family involvement, etc. Conversely, if you are choosing to break your commitment by separation or divorce, you may need assistance as well.

Diversity: In mixed marriages, ethnic, cultural and religious differences may lead to misunderstandings and hurt feelings. The source of these difficulties may be within your relationship, and/or from family, friends, coworkers. You may need assistance working this out together.

Reenacting Old Patterns: Perhaps you find that you are behaving toward each other in the same way that you reacted to your parents during childhood. Conversely, you may find yourself replicating dysfunctional aspects of your parent's relationship with each other. This includes difficulties that survivors of child abuse and/or neglect as well as adult children of substance abusers bring to relationships.

Trauma: Many types of trauma can effect couples such as assault, rape, death, accidents, robbery, suicide (or attempted suicide), illness, disability, affairs and other types of betrayal. You may need assistance dealing with a current trauma, or dealing with a trauma that occurred in the past.

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How does couples therapy compare to individual therapy?

There are two major differences:

Saftey: Many couples never come to therapy precisely because they fear that opening things up would worsen the situation or even destroy the relationship. They realize that they may want to say things to each other that they have been afraid to say for years, or one or both may fear that they will be ganged up on and blamed for everything. I am aware of the anxieties created by seeking help and therefore encourage a slow pace that honors the delicacy of the situation. As we move forward in understanding your couple's dynamics, it becomes apparent that no one person is to blame.

Roles: While each of you, particularly at the beginning of therapy, will spend time speaking directly with me, increasingly the time will be spent with the two of you talking to each other. During this time I will assist and support you with suggestions and observations. The three of us will collaborate in generating new understanding and behavior.

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What are the goals of couple therapy?

Every couple is different, but in general, I strive to help you bring back the connectedness, loving kindness and passion that you once had, and to build and strengthen a sense of team work on which the both of you can rely to meet life's challenges together.

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How would we get started?

A consultation can assist you in determining whether therapy might be useful for you. We will explore your present situation, needs and questions and concerns about therapy. We will come to understand whether it would be appropriate for you to enter therapy at this time, and if so what kind of therapy and whether or not we would like to work together. If the answer to this is no, I will provide you with referrals for other therapists.

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What would be the commitment?

Participating in therapy involves making a commitment to attend weekly 50 minute sessions.  (Some clients opt for more frequent sessions). There is no particular number of sessions you must commit to, however,  change that is deep and siginficant usually requires at least six months.  My rates are reasonable and will be discussed in the initial contact.  If finances are an issue, we can discuss a fee adjustment. 

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What is an M.F.T.?

The M.F.T., or Marriage and Family Therapist, is the license issued by the Board of Behavioral Science of the State of California to therapists who have a Master's degree in Clinical or Counseling Psychology, who has passed both written and oral examinations administered by the Board, and who have completed 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience. License renewal requires 36 hours of continuing education every two years. The license allows the M.F.T. to call themselves a psychotherapist and provide therapy to individuals, couples, families and children. M.F.T. used to be referred to as M.F.C.C. (Marriage, Family and Child Counselor). The new license recognizes that we are doing, and are qualified to do, psychotherapy rather than simply counseling.

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Where are you located and how do I contact you?

If you are thinking about starting therapy, please feel free to call to discuss this further. I have offices in San Francisco and Walnut Creek. You can reach me (415) 751-6515 or (925) 948-0562. If I do not answer in person, please leave a message and I will call you back shortly.

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therapy-deleteme[at]-deleteme-susanberger [dot] net

San Francisco Office
2354 Post Street
(415) 751-6515

Walnut Creek Office
1415 Oakland Blvd, Ste. 100
(925) 948-0562

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Susan Berger, Marriage and Family Therapist, #MFC21193

photography by Bethanie Hines