The life of intimate couples involves an inherent paradox: relationship can be a key to happiness and fulfillment, and it can be the source of despair and loneliness. Safe, intimate, and emotionally vibrant relationships are central to realizing happiness, creativity, and intellectual potential. Unfortunately, as we know all too well, the opposite is also true - volatile, unstable, and emotionally threatening patterns between partners can be a major source of stress and pain. Couples who embark on therapy have often reached a high level of stress and frustration. At the same time, they are often exceptionally open, sincere and willing to discover new ways to be intimate with each other. It is a privilege and an honor to meet and support couples at this critical point in their relationships, when so much is at stake.
Dr. Balamuth’s work with couples is informed by attachment theory, psychoanalysis, and body-based approaches such as Somatic Experiencing. Current neuroscience demonstrates that the human nervous system requires, a calm, well-regulated mode in order to learn and integrate new experiences, especially in the area of intimacy and emotional growth. Couples often come to therapy in a state of heightened defensiveness, when their fight-or-flight mechanisms are highly mobilized. The first step is often to down-regulate this state of chronic irritability and hyper-arousal. Initial sessions are often focused on bringing awareness to each other’s emotional and physical state and allowing this awareness to be present through the session, allowing a more regulated, reflective and less reactive stance. As each partner calms down and is able to step aside from their defensive patterns, it is possible for them to listen and keep track of their own state changes. Here, they can find some safety and stability within their bodies and minds. Gradually, they become freer to experiment with risking greater intimacy, and often discover that they are able to receive and give love more fully when present and aware. An enhanced ability to self-regulate and avoid triggering each other enables a new openness to shared experiences and compassion when facing life’s challenges.
The over-arching goal is for this capacity for love and compassion to become self-sustaining and self-amplifying, allowing the couple to continue to deepen their intimacy long after therapy has ended.