Do you feel like you and your partner have the same arguments over and over with each other? Do you feel stuck, hopeless, and alone in your relationship? Is it difficult for you to get your needs met? Does it feel like you give more than you get in return? Do you struggle to communicate your needs and feelings to your partner?
If so, then couples therapy can help.
By the time partners seek out couples counseling and therapy, they often feel so overwhelmed that they believe their problems are impossible to manage or repair. Couples get stuck in lose/lose communication when they focus on the immediate conflict rather than their underlying needs.
Often their conflicts grow out of core beliefs or main themes in relationships, which we call “schemas.” You may be totally unaware of your schemas, but they shape not only your thoughts, actions, and life choices but also your relationships. Take the relationship schema quiz to identify your schemas. Once we identify these themes or schemas in your relationship, your problems don’t seem so large. We can help you recognize and break these painful patterns in your relationship and learn new skills to resolve conflict, build intimacy and improve your well being.
Encouraging You To Experiment With New Behaviors
These challenges stymie all types of couples—same-sex and heterosexual as well as couples where one partner (or both) is transgendered. Research shows that behavioral couples therapy improves relationships for couples of all sexual orientations. We have ample experience working with a wide variety of couples, and are dedicated to helping you rebuild and maintain a healthy relationship. We also offer premarital counseling counseling to helpyou stay proactive and address potential issues before they escalate.
At the Bay Area CBT Center, we help you overcome the obstacles that prevent you from having the relationship you desire. Our approach to couples therapy is active and directive and offers practical skills for couples such as Nonviolent Communication, mindfulness, polyvagal regulation, and assertiveness training. We integrate interventions from IMAGO Couples Therapy, Gottman Couples Therapy, Polyvagal Theory, Attachment Theory, Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and Schema Therapy.
For your convenience, we offer online cognitive behavioral couples therapy, our online relationship counselors are available through video or phone. We provide couple’s counseling services across California and have offices in San Francisco and Oakland. Studies show that online relationship counseling works just as well as in person. Our remote relationship therapy services include online premarital counseling, online marriage counseling, coparenting, online couple’s counseling, conscious uncoupling, virtual sex therapy, and more.
Taking an integrative and holistic approach to couples therapy is more effective because it allows us to meet the unique needs of each specific couple. We understand that no two relationships are the same, just like no two individuals are alike. We incorporate a variety of therapeutic modalities and tailor our interventions to address the specific challenges and dynamics present within the couple’s relationship.
Whether you’re seeking individual relationship therapy, dating support, or marriage therapy, we offer treatments to help you strengthen your relationships in all areas of life. This personalized approach enables us to delve deep into the root causes of conflicts and issues, uncovering the underlying emotions and beliefs that shape your interactions.
We combine strategies and techniques from various forms of therapy to build a deeper sense of connection, understanding, and growth. This customized approach empowers couples to actively engage in therapy, leading to more meaningful and lasting change.
ACT for Couples
ACT offers a unique framework that empowers partners to build healthier and more resilient relationships.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for Couples
ACT combines mindfulness, acceptance, and values-based commitment to help individuals lead more meaningful and fulfilling lives. When applied to couples therapy, ACT offers a unique framework that empowers partners to build healthier and more resilient relationships.
A fundamental principle of ACT is acceptance, which involves acknowledging and embracing the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of oneself and one’s partner without judgment. In relationships, acceptance means recognizing and validating each other’s emotions, perspectives, and individuality. By practicing acceptance, couples can create a safe space for vulnerability and open communication, cultivating a deeper sense of understanding and connection.
In ACT, commitment refers to actively engaging in behaviors aligned with one’s values. In ACT couples therapy, commitment refers to engaging in values-based actions that are consistent with your values. In couples therapy you will learn how to distinguish between avoidance behaviors and values-based actions and learn tools for working with the thoughts and feelings that try to stop you from taking actions towards your values.
Acceptance and Commitment Couples Interventions for Couples Therapy:
Mindful Listening: Actively listening to your partner is a vital component of healthy communication. Engage in mindful listening by giving your undivided attention, maintaining eye contact, and genuinely focusing on your partner’s words and emotions.
Defusion Techniques: ACT introduces defusion techniques to help couples observe their thoughts without getting entangled in them. Recognizing and distancing from negative thoughts, helps couples to stop reacting impulsively or defensively. This helps create distance from negative stories partners have about each other, resulting in these thoughts having less influence on their behaviors.
Values Clarification: Identifying and discussing personal values, as well as shared values as a couple, is an important step in ACT. Reflecting on what truly matters to both partners can guide decision-making and help prioritize actions that align with those values.
Acceptance: Incorporating acceptance and self-compassion exercises into your daily lives can be transformative for couples. ACT teaches specific skills for developing radical acceptance to internal experiences including core beliefs, feelings and sensations.
Mindfulness Exercises: Mindfulness is an integral part of ACT, and it can greatly benefit couples. By practicing mindfulness together, partners can learn to be fully present with each other, fostering deeper intimacy and connection. Activities like mindful breathing exercises, meditation, or shared mindful moments can help couples stay attuned to each other’s needs and enhance their overall relationship satisfaction.
Relationships are affected by deep-seated patterns of thoughts and beliefs that impact our interactions. Schema Therapy can help couples identify and address these patterns, fostering understanding, healing, and growth. Schema Therapy, developed by Dr. Jeffrey E. Young, integrates elements of cognitive-behavioral, psychodynamic, and experiential therapies. It focuses on identifying and changing maladaptive patterns or schemas—core beliefs about oneself, others, and the world. When applied to couples therapy, Schema Therapy provides a framework for understanding and healing the underlying dynamics that contribute to relationship difficulties.
Schemas (core beliefs in relationships) often emerge from past experiences and shape our perceptions and interactions with others. In couples therapy, schemas manifest as recurring themes, such as mistrust, abandonment, or inadequacy, which contribute to conflicts and emotional distance. Recognizing these schemas is a crucial step in Schema Therapy for couples, as it allows partners to gain insight about their relationship challenges.
Schema Therapy Interventions for Couples:
Schema Exploration: Through guided discussions and exercises, couples can identify their schemas and explore how they impact their relationship. This process involves examining core beliefs and patterns that contribute to emotional reactions in interpersonal dynamics. Bringing awareness to these schemas, helps couples gain insight into their triggers and vulnerabilities.
Take the relationship schema quiz to find out what your schemas are in relationships. You can bring your schema quiz results to your therapy session to explore, with your therapist, how your schemas and your partners schemas interact and to identify repetitive themes and patterns that these schemas create.
Schema Dialogue: Schema Dialogue provides a structured approach for partners to engage in open and empathetic conversations about their schemas. This intervention involves active listening, validation, and mutual understanding. Partners take turns expressing their thoughts and feelings while focusing on providing support and empathy.
Schema Avoidance Behaviors: Schema avoidance behaviors are unhelpful habits that we have adopted to deal with relationship pain. These can range from seeking excessive reassurance, to lying, screaming, accusing, blaming, clinging, and more. Although these behaviors may provide temporary relief, they end up harming the relationship in the long run. Schema couples therapy can help you learn how to replace these behaviors with more positive coping mechanisms that strengthen your relationships.
Cognitive Restructuring: Schema Therapy incorporates cognitive restructuring techniques to challenge and modify maladaptive beliefs and thought patterns. Couples learn to identify cognitive distortions, reframe negative interpretations, and replace them with more balanced and realistic thoughts. This intervention promotes more accurate perceptions of oneself and the partner, reducing misunderstandings and promoting healthier communication.
Behavioral Pattern Change: Schema Therapy recognizes that change occurs not only through insight but also through action. Couples work together to identify specific behaviors that perpetuate negative patterns and develop alternative actions to create positive change. This may involve practicing new ways of relating, expressing needs and boundaries, and engaging in shared activities that promote connection and intimacy.
Integrative Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Couples
Integrative Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for couples is a powerful approach that combines the best elements of cognitive, behavioral, and emotion-focused therapies. It provides invaluable tools and interventions to help couples build a strong and fulfilling partnership.
This therapeutic approach draws from various evidence-based techniques to address the cognitive, emotional, and behavioral aspects of a person’s life. It offers a comprehensive framework to identify and modify unhelpful thoughts, behaviors, and emotions that may contribute to relationship challenges.
Integrative CBT recognizes the interconnectedness of thoughts, feelings, sensations, urges, and behaviors. Understanding the patterns and dynamics that contribute to relationship distress, couples can gain insight into their own and their partner’s perspectives, resulting in increased empathy and understanding.
Integrative Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Interventions for Couples:
Communication Skills Training: Effective communication is at the core of a healthy relationship. Learning Nonviolent Communication helps couples develop essential communication skills, such as active listening, assertiveness, and empathy. Couples learn to express their needs, concerns, and emotions in a more constructive way. Practicing NVC is one of the best ways to improve communication and mental health.
Behavioral Activation: Couples work together to identify specific behaviors that contribute to relationship difficulties, such as avoidance or negative patterns of interaction. Through behavioral activation, partners engage in new behaviors that promote positive interactions, intimacy, and shared activities.
Emotion Regulation: Emotional regulation skills are crucial for maintaining a healthy and balanced relationship. Integrative CBT equips couples with techniques to manage and express their emotions effectively. By understanding and regulating their emotions, partners can navigate conflicts with greater emotional intelligence, fostering empathy and reducing emotional reactivity.
Problem-Solving Strategies: Integrative CBT emphasizes problem-solving as a collaborative process. Couples learn effective problem-solving strategies to address issues and conflicts effectively. CBT relationship counseling involves identifying the problem, generating potential solutions, evaluating the pros and cons, and implementing the best course of action. By developing problem-solving skills, couples can resolve conflicts more efficiently and create win-win solutions.
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (MBCT) for Couples
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (MBCT) offers an evidence-based integrative approach that helps couples develop awareness, compassion, and effective communication.
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy integrates the principles of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) with the practice of mindfulness. It combines the tools of cognitive restructuring and behavior modification with the present-moment awareness cultivated through mindfulness practice. By incorporating mindfulness into the therapeutic process, couples can develop a deeper understanding of themselves, their partners, and their relationship dynamics.
Mindfulness involves intentionally directing one’s attention to the present moment with an attitude of openness, curiosity, and non-judgment. When couples engage in mindfulness practices together, they create a space for connection, presence, and deepening their emotional bond. By practicing mindfulness as a couple, partners can develop the capacity to respond to each other with intention, compassion, and empathy.
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy offers couples a transformative treatment to deepen their connection, enhance communication, and navigate challenges with mindful compassion. By integrating mindfulness practices with cognitive-behavioral techniques, couples can cultivate awareness, emotional regulation, and effective communication skills.
Somatic Therapy focuses on the body’s wisdom and the integration of mind, body, and spirit. Somatic Therapy for Couples can help partners enhance their relationship by bringing awareness to bodily sensations, releasing tension, and deep healing.
Somatic Therapy recognizes that the body holds valuable information about our emotions, experiences, and relational patterns. It emphasizes the connection between the mind and the body, highlighting the importance of somatic awareness, embodiment, and the release of stored tension and trauma. Somatic Therapy Couples Therapy offers a holistic framework to heal emotional wounds, build trust, and create a more embodied and fulfilling partnership.
Somatic Therapy Interventions for Couples:
Body Sensations and Emotional Awareness: Somatic Couples Therapy encourages couples to bring attention to their bodily sensations and notice how these sensations are connected to their emotions. By tuning into the body’s wisdom, couples can develop a deeper understanding of their emotional experiences and gain insights into their relationship dynamics. This awareness helps partners attune to each other’s needs and respond with more curiosity.
Breathwork and Grounding Techniques: Somatic Couples Therapy incorporates breathwork and grounding techniques to help couples regulate their nervous systems and establish a sense of safety and presence. Through specific breathing exercises and grounding practices, partners learn to connect with their bodies, release tension, and access a be present. These techniques promote a calm and centered state, allowing for more authentic and vulnerable communication.
Movement and Expressive Arts: Somatic Couples Therapy integrates movement and expressive arts as a way to access and release emotions stored in the body. Through movement, partners can express themselves, access deeper layers of their emotions, and create new patterns of connection. These practices enhance body awareness, self-expression, and facilitate nonverbal communication within the relationship.
Touch and Intimacy: Through safe and consensual touch exercises, couples can rebuild trust, deepen their emotional bond, and explore their physical connection. Through conscious touch and attunement, partners can create a sense of safety, comfort, and pleasure within their relationship.
Trauma Resolution: Somatic Couples Therapy provides effective tools for healing and resolving trauma within the context of a couple’s relationship. Somatic interventions, such as Somatic Experiencing or Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, help partners gently process and release trauma stored in the body.
Is Therapy Right For Us? Integrative and Holistic Couples Therapy
Even if you struggle individually with post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders, or other mental health concerns, taking an integrative behavioral approach to relationship counseling is essential for long term behavioral change. Insight is not enough to help couples. Partners must practice and engage in new behaviors and foster emotional health for a healthier relationship. Relationship counseling sessions with an integrative CBT approach can help you recognize patterns and habits that may be causing conflict or distance in your relationship.
Not sure whether you need individual therapy, marriage counseling, or marriage and family therapy? Take this relationship schemas quiz to find out your core beliefs in relationships and this interpersonal problems quiz to assess your relational patterns across relationships.
Our licensed marriage and family therapists will provide you with practical strategies and techniques to implement in your everyday life that result in real changes outside of therapy. Our holistic approach will empower you and your partner to develop healthier coping skills, improve communication, address mental health issues and foster a more authentic and fulfilling relationship.
The first step to initiating treatment is to book a free 15-minute consultation call with our client care coordinator to get matched with a therapist who meets your specific needs. In this consultation session, our client care coordinator will assess your concerns and schedule you with a therapist that is the best fit for your particular situation.
The first session will involve your couples therapist talking with each of you individually and together. Your couples therapist will discuss your concerns, evaluate your needs, and give you a good sense of what maintains your current problems. Together with you, your couples therapist, will explore therapeutic approaches that may help with the challenges you face. In the first few sessions, your couples therapist will continually reassess your needs and your specific goals for therapy.
At The Bay Area CBT Center, we believe that it is imperative to find a couples therapist who is a good fit for both partners and who possesses qualities such as personality style, therapeutic stance, and values that resonate with you both. Having an authentic and genuine connection with your couples therapist is essential.
During the course of your couples therapy, your therapist will continue to check in with each of you regarding your goals and monitor your progress. You may also choose to engage in additional activities or exercises in between sessions.
Couples who are willing to practice new behaviors outside of therapy and engage in homework exercises in between therapy sessions are more likely to show significant improvement in therapy.
We are here to help with the challenges you face.
As part of couples therapy, we offer a variety of self-awareness and skill-building opportunities. Although the list below is not exhaustive, it will give you an idea of the many ways we can help you. Depending on your needs and desires, any one or combination of these can be incorporated into your therapy:
Assistance with divorce or separation
Emotional intimacy building
Negotiation skills training
New baby preparation
Setting limits and making boundaries
Sexual identity exploration
Trust development after betrayal
Cognitive behavioral couples therapy sessions can be conducted via teletherapy online or in person at our Oakland office or San Francisco office locations. Online couples counseling and in-person couples therapy sessions are typically one hour long. Whether you choose online couples therapy or in person couples therapy, we are here to help.
We're Relationship Experts
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in the Bay Area. You could say we wrote the books on it.