Couples Therapy

"Couples" is broadly defined to mean any people in a committed relationship who need an objective, neutral professional to assist them in more effective communication, problem-solving, and decision-making. My job as the couples psychotherapist is to be a translator, to help the people understand what each wants in a relationship, what they are so angry about, what they value about the other person, and what can perhaps change.

The Process Of Couples Therapy

Most couples come to therapy with much hurt and anger, feeling that the person he/she has loved has changed, and that their "contract" for their relationship has been broken. While most adults realize that they can only be responsible to change themselves, there is a strong desire that the other person in the couple will go back to like he/she "used to be." Couples therapy involves helping each person to fully understand him/herself; to articulate expectations for a relationship, and to understand if these expectations are from their own family of origin or whether it is really what is desired; and to openly hear the same from the other partner.

This may involve learning acceptance of differences - of personality, of background, of values, of habits. Or it may involve accepting that these differences are not going to make for a positive match for this pair. Behaviors can of course change, but that takes much effort, understanding, and support from each other.

A key part of my work with couples, if children are involved, is to help the couple place the children first in terms of how their relationship, either together or separately, can best nurture those children and assist their positive growth and development.

There are many times when a couple does very well interacting with each other, but has special concerns which would enable them to benefit from psychoeducational counseling. Examples are step-parenting issues, interfaith/interethnic differences, managing a handicapped child, or coping with illness.

I always see a couple together, to avoid any secrets or collusion with either partner. If one or both have personal issues to be managed, I will refer him or her to an individual therapist. If active drinking or drug use is hindering the relationship, that must be addressed before any real therapy work can occur

My goal is to keep the relationship together, unless it is clear that either is unsafe in the partnership, or that one or both is determined to end the relationship. The same process occurs regardless, to enable valuing of what the relationship has meant, to continue positive joint parenting, and to work through anger and bitterness that can retard anyone's personal growth.

Pre-Marital Counseling

Often couples have concerns that are hard to talk about, when so in love and while planning a wedding. As an experienced couples therapist, as well as a Justice of the Peace, I can offer assistance in discussing difficult topics, and in helping a couple come to compromises and better understanding of each other.

Examples of issues that arise in almost any marriage are the handling of money and financial attitudes; stepparenting; cultural and religious differences; and dysfunctional family problems. If these and other worries can be addressed early in a relationship, their chance for effective management is greatly enhanced. This process also enables skills in honest and open communication.

Contact Information:

Phone: 203-329-9121


Office of Trish Haines Dayan, LCSW

Couples therapy takes place in my private home office.