Couples and Marriage Counseling in Columbia, SC
You feel like roommates more than lovers. You’re in the same room, yet you feel a thousand miles apart.
You reach out to touch your partner and all you hear is I’m too tired. You crave physical contact and without it you feel rejected, undesired, and unwanted.
You are finally having a date night and you find yourself staring at the table, while your loved one is buried in their phone. You feel neglected. Invisible. Disconnected.
No matter how hard you try you can never get through, like there is a wall between you, and you are all alone.
You can never get it right, or up to their standards. It’s like they have a scorecard and you always come up short. All you hear is criticism, what you do wrong, never what is going right.
It’s like a rug got pulled under you. You’ve been betrayed and your heart is crushed. You feel disoriented and you are not sure what is real. You are terrified to trust again.
You don’t know what to do and feel like giving up. You feel frustrated and stuck. You are exhausted from fighting over the same issues over and over again. You get caught in the cycle of conflict and distance and it leaves you feeling angry, disappointed, sad, hopeless, and numb.
You are left feeling desperate and insecure.
Am I really important to you?
Do I matter to you?
Are you there for me?
Can I count on you?
Will you embrace and accept me for who I am?
Am I enough?
Can I ever trust you not to hurt me again?
If you loved me why would you hurt me like that?
Am I the number one in your life?
Where has our love and affection gone?
You’ve tried everything. Books. Love languages. Boundaries. Date nights. 10 ways to communicate better. Even Couples and Marriage Counseling. Nothing seems to work. Any progress is small and temporary. Frustration. Disappointment. Desperation. Despair.
You are Not Alone. There is Hope.
There is a way back to connection and I can help you get there…
To the place of feeling…
Heard and understood.
Supported and comforted.
Acknowledged and appreciated.
Accepted and wanted.
Important and regarded.
Known and loved.
Secure and connected.
Most couples don’t know where to turn to find help.
The majority of couples who file for divorce have never been to marriage counseling, and if they have, they’ve only gone for a couple of sessions.
Most couples feel unhappy for 6 years before they seek marriage counseling. Being entrenched in relational distress and conflict for years is painful and lonely.
How will you feel a year from now if you didn’t address your relational disconnection?
If you got help today for you relationship, how might you feel 3 months later?
The longer you wait, the longer you suffer, and the more your relationship deteriorates.
It is like driving on the same dirt path over and over again, the longer you drive on the same path the deeper the rut gets and the harder it is to move right or left off of it. Couples and marriage counseling is an effective way to help you get off the path you are stuck on and reconnect. It is like working out or going to a doctor, the process can be uncomfortable; but done competently and properly, it won’t harm, but only help your relationship.
The fact that you are here is a good sign.
You haven’t given up on your relationship; you still have a sliver of hope that change is possible.
Right now, you’re looking for someone who can help. Your search for a couples and marriage counselor or therapist can be overwhelming with the amount of options available. You want someone who will make a difference.
Your relationship is very important and you want to find someone you can trust.
You want the best for your relationships. I get it. You would want the best surgeon to do your open heart surgery. It is too risky. Too much is at stake. It is a life or death matter and your relationships are not much different.
Your heart, and the heart of the one whom you love, matters. A good first step is to find someone who is competent, someone who has specific evidenced based training in couples counseling.
You’ve been looking for someone that gets your pain and frustration.
Someone who is able to restore and rekindle your relationship.
I’m Casey. I can help you thrive in connection through couples & marriage counseling.
I have advanced training in Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT), a type of couples and marriage counseling that research has shown to be the most effective in helping couples in distress.
Every couple’s experience is different; there is no “one size fits all”. Your experience with your loved one is unique. However, there are patterns that repeat in your relationship that underlie every fight no matter the issue.
The Negative Cycle
You get stuck in a cycle of disconnection whether it is about your finances, household responsibilities, sex, children, extended families, friends, hobbies, or work.
Most couples and marriages get caught in a negative dance where each partner triggers the other partner to react in such a way that keeps them locked into a negative cycle.
For example, your partner shuts down and you react by being critical to try to get through to them, your partner then withdraws further to protect, and you get more critical to get their attention. The more you attack and poke the more your partner shuts down and withdraws into their shell, the more your partner shuts down and defends, the more you get critical.
The approach to help your relationship
EFT provides a structured and research proven road map that helps you bond. I guide your interactions so that you will have a positive and warm experience with each other. I create a safe space for you to reconnect the deepest part of your heart with yourself and with your partner so that you can be emotionally there for each other. Together we get to the heart of the matter. I direct and help you send and receive clear emotional signals with your partner because emotion is the messenger of love.
Most of your fights are really protests over emotional disconnection.
Underneath the distress, you are desperate to know: Are you there for me?
Emotional responsiveness creates connection.
Connection creates reassurance.
Reassurance creates security.
Security creates wellness.
What is Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT)
Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT) is designed to help couples understand each other’s emotions and respond effectively to each other’s needs. It is a collaborative model based on adult attachment theory and is widely heralded as one of the most successful approaches to creating loving relationships and lasting bonds.
EFT is an evidenced-based, structured approach to counseling that has proven to work.
Historically, couples counseling has generally been successful about 30% of the time. This means that 30% of couples who went to couples counseling went on to reestablishing trust and intimacy and feeling that their relationship continued to grow. A substantial body of research outlining the effectiveness of EFT now exists. Over the last 30 years, research studies on the effectiveness of EFT find that 70-75% of couples move from distress to recovery and approximately 90% show significant improvements. These effects have shown to last over time when the couples are evaluated years later.
In EFT, couples learn to identify their negative communication cycle, how to be with feelings together, reach towards and be responsive to each other in more loving and positive ways. Couples create the safety, trust, and support that they long for when they clearly communicate and respond to one another’s attachment needs.
Emotionally Focused Therapy is based on the following assumptions:
- There is an inherent, universal need in all humans for a safe haven and a secure base where a loved one is experienced as emotionally accessible, responsive, and engaged.
- No one is truly independent. No one is an island. We are all interdependent. There is only effective dependency or ineffective dependency.
- What your partner does or says, the physical sensation we feel in our body as a response, the meaning we make from the other person’s actions, the feelings we feel inside, and what we tend to do in response are all aspects of emotion.
- Powerful emotional feedback loops or patterns occur in relationships. Each person’s behavior shapes the other’s response. One person cannot solely be “the problem” as it is a “we” issue and not a “me” or “you” issue.
- Feelings are often hidden, unexpressed, misinterpreted, or misunderstood. We send unclear, ambiguous, or confusing messages to our loved one when we are distressed and don’t feel secure and safe in the relationship.
- All relationship responses are understandable and reasonable. Partners are not viewed as deficient or damaged – but instead viewed as struggling to find the best way they know how to manage painful feelings of disconnection and vulnerability.
- Underlying couples that get stuck in the same old fights is a longing for closeness, a feeling of being misunderstood, or attempts to manage the pain of loneliness.
- When our brain senses threat or danger we either fight, flight, or freeze. These responses can occur in intimate relationships where there is a lot at stake and the other person matters so much.
- Relational responses (such as criticism, defensiveness, attacking, or withdrawing) are coping strategies to manage emotional distress. Though these strategies may have worked at times they often result in more disconnection, frustration, and pain in relationships that matter. There is need for acknowledging the validity of these strategies and the emotions driving them if couples are to understand their own and their partner’s responses.
In EFT, we don’t heal relationships; we create relationships that heal.
All this sounds great, BUT…
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Won’t talking about our problems in couples or marriage counseling make it worse?
You both get stuck fighting every time a certain topic comes up: it could be about finances, house work, physical intimacy, children, free time, or extended family.
Up to now, talking about your problems in your relationship usually makes things worse. You both get stuck in the negative cycle of conflict and disconnection. In panic and anger we say things we don’t really mean. You repeatedly hurt each other trying to talk about your problems.
It makes sense that one or both of you avoid talking about your problems.
Learning something new can be frustrating and painful, but having someone who knows what they are doing can help. It usually gets worse before it gets better. For example, when you learn to dance you could hurt each other by stepping on one another. However, with a skilled coach by your side the hurt and frustration can lead to a beautiful dance. In couples counseling, I help you navigate the steps with each other in your relationship to reshape your “dance”.
I help you both slow down. Together we go slow into your experiences. We sort through the withdrawals, attacks, and protests. We get through the anger to your hurts, sadness, fears, and longings. I help you both get to the heart of your problems: the lack of a safe emotional connection. Together we create a new positive bonding experience with your partner.
What if we find out something we don’t want to know in couples or marriage counseling?
Opening about your perceptions and feelings regarding your relationship can be scary.
Your partner is the most important person to you and the stakes are high.
You feel anxious about expressing or hearing the thoughts and feelings that you and your partner have regarding your relationship. You’re scared of being stuck in conflict, anger, and disconnection again.
It can feel too risky to open yourself up to feeling abandoned or rejected by talking about how you feel and how your partner feels. You worry that you both will hurt each other. You’re afraid of losing whatever love, connection, and peace you still have with each other.
In panic and anger we say things we don’t really mean. I create a safe environment by helping you both slow down the whole process. We make space for you both to express the hurts, aches, and longings of your heart with one another. Together, we will address whatever you find out. I will support you both in expressing and taking in what is on your hearts for one another.
Couldn’t we just read a book instead of going to couples and marriage counseling?
Learning how to have a positive relationship by reading a book is like learning to play football by watching on the sidelines or learning to dance by reading a book. Just as your relational frustrations and pains are formed in your interactions with each other, so your healing and growth in your relationship happens with a new experience of interacting with each other.
Learning about techniques and gathering information about relationships is useful when things are calm and easy. What you know goes out the window when you or your partner is triggered. You react to survive. It is through a couples therapist reshaping your interactions while it is happening and creating a new positive experience with each other that will change your relationship.
I am worried that you may side with my partner.
I can understand your worries. Some counselors inadvertently side with one person over another and that can undermine the therapy process.
My goal is to help you both as a unit. I do not side with one partner over another. I have a no secrets policy. I something important is shared with me in the absence of the other partner then that information would have to be disclosed.
No one person is to blame for the problems in your relationship as both your reactions trigger each other. It is like the chicken or the egg debate, after a while it is hard to tell which one came first except that we know one causes the other and it goes in a circle. I help you both discover the negative cycle you both are stuck in as the problem.
I will check in with you both during the counseling process to make sure that I get you. If you ever feel like I am siding with your partner during the process I welcome openness and feedback. I am mindful that my alliance with both of you is a crucial factor to the success of therapy.
I am worried our friends and family will judge us for seeking couples or marital counseling.
Counselors are held to a high standard of privacy for their clients. Your sessions are confidential. Even if someone called to ask about whether you are coming to counseling I would not confirm or deny your existence. On the off chance someone you know sees you come to my office they wouldn’t know what specific treatment you both are seeking.
We will discuss how to interact if we encounter each other outside the therapy office. By default, I will not acknowledge that I know you i I see you in public. I wait for you to engage if you want. If you decide to talk with me in public I won’t disclose information that I am your couples counselor.
You don’t have to be ashamed of showing your commitment and love for your partner. It reflects how much you both value strengthening and growing your relationship. People who really love and care for you will be happy to support what you are doing.
What if my partner doesn’t want to come to couples or marriage counseling?
Feelings of anger, resentment, anxiety, and fear may within you if your partner doesn’t want to come for couples counseling. The pain of your partner not caring and being there for you deepens.
Feeling frustrated and hurt you may react by pushing or attacking. As a result your partner will defend and withdraw further away from you. You both get stuck again in your negative cycle of disconnection.
It is important to be aware of these feelings inside and what you want to do to your partner. Reacting immediately will get you both in the negative pattern again.
Slow down. Be curious about what their hesitancy in going to couples counseling is instead of pushing.
Gently find out why they don’t want to come to marriage counseling. Do they have a previous bad experience with counseling? Have they heard negative experiences from others? Do they think counseling would make your relationship worse? Explore whether they prefer their marriage counselor to be a man or a woman. If possible, help address barriers that may prevent them from wanting to come to counseling.
Ask them if they would like to get to know the couples counselor (click here to learn about me) and how counseling works (you can show them this webpage you are reading). They could talk to me over the phone (803-939-5840).
Explore if they would be willing to go for one session just to get a feel for the marriage counselor and what therapy is like with no further commitments.
Share how much it would mean for you to go for couples counseling together. Tell your partner how it would help you feel more at peace, happy, encouraged, and hopeful if you both worked on your relationship together.
You can work on your own issues alone. But to work on your relationship it is essential that you both come to counseling together. However, if your partner is still hesitant to come with you for marriage counseling we can schedule an appointment. Together we can figure out how to help your relationship.
Do the benefits of couples and marriage counseling outweigh the cost?
Most people spend thousands of dollars for a wedding but not much money to heal, strengthen, and grow their marriage.
Investing in your relationship now could save you time and money in the future. In addition to saving your family years of heartache, counseling could potentially save you and your spouse thousands of dollars in divorce costs.
My pastor would always tell us “the best way to love your kids is to love your spouse”. Your kids can feel conflict and disconnection in your relationship and it could lead them feeling anxious or depressed. Having a secure and close relationship with your partner provides security for your children.
Most things that are precious in life usually comes at a cost. The phrase “no pain, no gain” is very fitting.
Marriage counseling is hard work. The feelings you already feel in your relationship may be amplified as we are bringing your issues to the forefront. There may be tears shed and tender spots touched. It usually gets worse before it gets better. Through the process of couples therapy you will feel better. The reward of joy and peace in a secure bond with your partner is worth it all.
You miss the loving and intimate bond you used to have. To feel cared for, supported, accepted, and loved again is priceless. You would trade the world to feel the warmth, security, and confidence with your loved one again.
Casey is a great counselor who has the ability to come alongside a couple and meet them where they are at on their journey. He creates an open and non judgemental atmosphere that allows you to be vulnerable and truly connect with your emotions.
Skilled counselor. He has an ability to make you feel comfortable sharing your own struggles and also to make you laugh when you realize you are not alone with it. Casey has helped me to become a better man and better husband. He also brings lots of insights and tools that are very helpful.
Casey’s gentle and compassionate presence combined with his excellent skills in working with couples makes him extremely effective in helping couples resolve their differences, understand one another on a deep level, and reconnect in a way they haven’t experienced before. Casey has undertaken the study of the most effective marriage treatment and is excited about helping couples. I highly recommend Casey to anyone seeking marital counseling.
You can start on a new path to change your relationship; it begins with a first step.
Want to learn more about what this journey looks like? I would love to be your guide.
ISSUES I ADDRESS WITHIN COUPLES AND MARRIAGE COUNSELING:
Strengthening and Growth of the Relationship
Physical and Emotional Infidelity
Erosion of Trust Through Deception and Lies
Betrayals and Abandonment
Death of a child
Illness in the family
Separation and Divorce