Serving Western MA, Springfield, Northampton and Amherst, MA, Brattleboro, VT, and the Pioneer Valley, with telephone counseling, nation-wide, LifeCourse Counseling Center, and all its therapists, affirm all sexual orientations and gender identities, and celebrate the rich diversity that exists among people of all ethnic, racial and class backgrounds.

If life were like the movies, we could expect partnership to make us live happily ever after. Movies and societal expectation purports that if two people love each other, it will work out. Many loving couples find themselves in couple’s counseling because the art of relationship requires more than a feeling of love.

As with life itself, relationships develop, grow and go through different stages. The challenges and joys of first meeting and joining are very different than when partners make growing commitments to one another. Life inherently brings both change and challenge such as job changes or losses, raising children, aging parents, financial strains and much more. Each stage or challenge can be difficult and challenging. There may have been nothing in life that has prepared a couple for these challenges.

People also bring all their life experiences into their relationship. These include a person’s strengths as well as any old hurt or thing that has not gone well. Relationship is fertile ground that brings to the surface old hurts and issues previously unresolved. With understanding and some effort relationship can also be a wonderful place to bring healing and resolution to those old hurts.

Communication between people is not something that our educational system and culture teach much about. Couples entering therapy often must learn ways of fully listening to one another, even when opinions and beliefs diverge. There may be differences between people that may seem insurmountable. Listening well, finding ways to validate each person’s thoughts, feelings and needs is critical regardless of whether both people agree. Then finding positive ways to work together incorporating each person’s feelings and needs is important and possible.

Gay, lesbian, queer and transgender couples can also have the added stress of homophobia. If a couple is closeted or experiences homophobia either internally or from family, friends or co-workers, this puts pressure on the couple. How each couple manages this pressure can make an enormous difference in terms of their well being. Relationships with the outside world directly impacts couples. Partnerships in isolation will have a harder time than those with support.

Upon entering couples therapy people can feel that because they have problems, their relationship is has failed or headed towards ruin. In fact, as therapists we are sure that relationships are hard for nearly everyone. With openness, courage and willingness to take a risk, the growth potential is enormous. Deepening closeness, growing communication and fulfillment is the goal of couples counseling.