The Colorado Center for Clinical Excellence
our therapists
how we do it

therapy for couples & marriage counseling

our services
contact us

There is something so mysterious and so predictable about the conflict couples find themselves in. The topic of the argument may be trivial or big-picture. Suddenly you are in a familiar groove of an all-too-familiar soundtrack, lobbing criticism back and forth or retreating in isolation. It's like being in quicksand. You are not sure how you got there and you are both desperate for an exit plan. Typically, couples struggle with what to do next. Emotionally focused couples therapy is an approach that will help you move from a narrow, predictable way of interacting to one in which your relationship - fights and all - is something you can turn to for support. Practicing new interactional dance moves is tricky business. You may feel self-conscious or vulnerable. You may be tired of making compromises. My role as a therapist is collaborative, a coach not a referee. So often there are opportunities to repair hurts by learning new ways to share what's really on your mind and in your heart. It may seem mysterious-but it just requires careful practice.

Whether you and your partner struggle with unproductive communication; feel stuck in negative argument patterns; are going through a life transition; coping with infidelity; or want to regain a lost spark or sense of intimacy, couples therapy may be for you. Couples therapy has the power to turn your relationship around by increasing the positives you share together (such as fun, support, and friendship), decreasing the negatives (such as unproductive and escalating fights), and bringing you back to the strengths that made you choose each other in the first place. I can also help you reach a place where each partner recognizes and understands the other's point of view, even if you don't necessarily agree with it. Also, we all tend to have "hot buttons" that stem from life events outside of the relationship, and helping you to understand each other's triggers can be a powerful way to improve your connection. (For more information, please see "A special note about couples' therapy" on my general info & approach to therapy page).

Couples I work with range from relationships on the brink of total collapse to those who are doing very well as a couple but want to have even better tools for communicating and feeling safe, open, or sexually happy. I work with straight couples, gay couples, and lesbian couples. I have worked with a lot of couples who have spiritual or religious core values that inform their relationship (some people look for a "Christian Counselor" and are surprised to find a secular therapist helping them deepen and cultivate a sanctified life). I am sometimes available for more intensive work such as longer sessions or several sessions per week for couples in crisis or who just need more time. For some couples, tools and skills have been missing. Other couples have already done the exercises and learned all the skills but these haven't even scratched the surface of what the core problems are. In every case, I work to get at the heart of what needs to change so that each person leaves feeling clearer, stronger, and more satisfied with their relationship.

Couples often come for therapy when their relationship is in crisis. They may either want to save the relationship, wonder if the relationship can be repaired, or want to end the relationship as smoothly and amicably as possible. Do you want the same things? What are the deal breakers? Do you show and receive love in a way that is satisfying to both of you? Do you both want to truly work on the relationship? A healthy relationship involves making an effort to avoid blame, criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and the worst of all: stonewalling. Stonewalling is essentially turning oneself into a stone wall (being emotionally and/or physically unavailable through silence, emotional distance, or literally leaving the conversation). A healthy relationship also involves respect, appreciation, and ability to resolve conflict in a way that is mutually satisfying. The goal here is not about avoiding conflict, but rather learning how to handle conflict in a healthy way that allows for repair and re-establishment of closeness, love, and security in the relationship. When couples fight about money, sex, household chores, etc, the key issue is often related to questions such as "Can I count on you? Are you there for me? Do you really love me? Can I trust you? Will you be there when I need you?" Getting an understanding of these underlying questions and fears and being able to communicate them to each other in a way that can be heard is an essential piece of couples work.

book appointment
Amy Stambuk, LCSW

main phone: 303-547-3700

search our site:

Kristen Morrison, Ph.D.
Jason Seidel, Psy.D.
Irina Banfi-Mare, Psy.D.
The Colorado Center
for Clinical Excellence