Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D
I appreciate the
opportunity to be of help to you. Because marital therapy is a large commitment of time,
money, and energy, a therapist should be carefully chosen. With this in mind, I have
created this Marital Therapy Brochure to provide you with an overview of my
approach to marital therapy. I will be happy to discuss the information contained in this
pamphlet in whatever detail you would like at our next meeting.
As you review the information
contained in this pamphlet, please consider the following questions. Are you comfortable
with my approach to marital therapy? Is my approach to marital therapy relevant to the
concerns that youve discussed with me? Will my approach to marital therapy likely
address the issues that youve discussed with me? Are there issues that youve
discussed with me that my approach to marital therapy may not sufficiently address? Will
my approach to marital therapy sufficiently address those issues that you have not
discussed with me?
Please note that when I do
marital therapy I focus exclusively on the issues of the marriage without any detailed
attention paid to the individual issues of either partner. Let me emphasize that I do NOT
use marital therapy to deal in any depth with the individual issues of each
partner. If the therapeutic needs of either one of you exceed the focus of the marital
therapy, I will make the recommendation that you do individual therapy along with or
instead of marital therapy (with either a therapist of your own choosing or myself).
I am often asked by a couple how long marital therapy will
last. My simple answer that I offer to everybody is that that I do not know how long your
marital therapy might last if you were to choose to do marital therapy with me. If you
have concerns about doing an open-ended therapy, my recommendation is that you and your
partner discuss how long you want to do marital therapy, commit to that period of time,
and once that time elapses, review your progress and either terminate or continue
treatment at that time.
Please be mindful of the fact that this pamphlet is not a syllabus for a course that I
teach about how to enrich your relationship. Marital therapy does not unfold in such a
neat, precise order. Dont read anything into the order in which the information has
been presented to you.
Focus of Marital Therapy
The first focus
of marital therapy is skill development. Each partner will develop and learn how to apply:
1.) Safe here-and-now self-disclosure that combines an empathic understanding of
ones partner and a more open, honest, and less guarded revelation of Self
2.) Conflict resolution
3.) Identification and application of mechanisms that make a relationship emotionally and
4.) Expression of support, validation, and affirmation of each partner
5.) Identification and expression of emotional needs
6.) Identification and expression of emotions
7.) Safe expression and acceptance of the expression of negative emotions such as
hostility, jealousy, aggression, insecurity, disappointment, disapproval, contempt
The second focus of
marital therapy is self-awareness. Each partner will expand and deepen their understanding
of who they are emotionally, behaviorally, psychologically, interpersonally, and
spiritually in the context of their marriage and family.
a.) The feelings that are stimulated by the interactions that each partner has with the
b.) The feelings that are stimulated by the circumstances of the life that each partner
shares with the other
c.) How each partners actions and inactions affect the other partner
d.) How each partner is affected by the actions
and inactions of the other partner
a.) Behaviors that create emotional distance and closeness
b.) Behaviors that paralyze and stimulate the growth of the relationship
c.) Behaviors that emotionally shut down and open up each partner and the relationship
d.) Behaviors that punish and reward each partner
e.) Behaviors that shame and celebrate each partner
a.) What psychologically motivates each partners actions and inactions towards each
b.) What life experiences shape each partners actions and inactions towards each
c.) What family of origin experiences shape each partners actions and inactions
towards each other
d.) What attitudes and beliefs about Self are destructive and/or constructive to
e.) What attitudes and beliefs about Others are destructive and/or constructive to
InterpersonalThe third focus of marital
therapy is safe self-disclosure. All couples consciously and unconsciously develop
patterns of communication whose sole purpose is to inhibit, censure, and/or
a.) The emotions that are stimulated by the demands of emotional intimacy
b.) The internal conflict and ambivalence stimulated by the demands of emotional intimacy
c.) The tensions stimulated by the competing desires to preserve ones individual
autonomy and wanting to be part of a relationship
d.) The avoidance strategies employed to mitigate or diminish the demands of emotional
e.) Mechanisms employed to walk the fine line between ones desire to preserve
ones individual autonomy and wanting to be part of a relationship
a.) Forgiveness vs. blame
b.) Surrender vs. willfulness
c.) Tolerance vs. judgmentalness
d.) Entitlement vs. humility
emergence of emotionally provocative conversation. This creates a backup of unresolved
emotional issues that are toxic to the emotional and spiritual well-being of each partner
and the relationship. The bigger the inventory of unacknowledged and unresolved emotions
and circumstances that exist between a couple, the more emotional and psychological energy
the couple must invest in the suppression and/or denial of those unresolved issues and
emotions. Although the couple may successfully sanitize and/or censor their conversations,
the need for that material to emerge, be discussed, and worked through remains. Marital
therapy offers a safe environment for such material to be both openly and safely
acknowledged, discussed, understood, and worked through where it may otherwise not be
discussed at all if the couple is left to their own devices.
The fourth focus of marital therapy is restructuring the relationship by:
1.) Changing the pattern of communication from defending ones position to making
oneself understood as well as striving to understand ones partner. Such
communication flows in an open, honest, and respectful way so that each individual can
themselves to their partner as well as resolve emotions, circumstances, and
issues rather than intimidate, frustrate, and stalemate their partner.
2.) Shifting the time focus of the relationship from the past and future into the
3.) Rebalancing the power structure of the relationship so that both individuals
participate in the relationship as empowered equals rather than as domineering or passive
4.) Changing the decision making process from abdicating and/or dictating to
5.) Redefining how emotional needs are expressed and met
6.) Replacing victimology with the notion that your relationship is made up of two adults
who take responsibility for what they do, think, feel, say, and act
of Marital Therapy
1.) Develop a process of communication that enables a
couple to emotionally feed each other.
2.) Develop a process of self-examination that
enables a couple to develop a relationship that emphasizes cooperativeness rather than
3.) Develop a process of self-examination that enables
a couple to nurture each others growth rather than try to change each other.
4.) Develop a process of self-examination that enables
a couple to reveal rather than describe themselves to each other.
5.) Develop a process of communication that supports a
couples efforts to heal the wounds that each has suffered at the hands of the
6.) Develop a process of communication that enhances a couples ability to hear
what is important to each other.
7.) Develop a process of communication that enables a
couple to get beyond circumstantial disagreements in order to find common ground.
8.) Identify those qualities that a couple cling to despite
the fact that these qualities sabotage the emotional and spiritual well-being of the
9.) Develop a mindset of tolerance and forgiveness for
those areas in which no common ground can be established.
10.) Transform the meaning of what harmony is and how harmony is created.
If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me
by e-mail at
Professional Services Available
Survivors of Physical and Sexual Trauma Therapy
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Free Online Books Available
Better Bridges: Creating Great Relationships With the People Who Matter Most
By Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D.
Molehills Out of Mountains: Reclaiming
Your Personal Power in Your Relationships
By Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D.
The World of Your Child:
How to Nurture the Spirit of Your Child
By Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D.
Free Online Special Reports Available
The Art of Living Consciously: How to
Create A Life of Love, Joy, and Authenticity
By Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D.