When we give our hearts to someone, an alchemy occurs that is powerful and potentially transformative.
Your primary love relationship is an opportunity. An opportunity to go deeper into yourself becoming more of who you were meant to be.
A long-term, romantic relationship is a crucible.
Within a relationship, each of us is tested—while also given the opportunity—to be kinder and more gracious, steadier and more present. In essence, to be more today than we were yesterday.
Over the years, I have been frequently asked, often with a puzzled look:
“How do you do it, Connie? How do you sit—day in and day out—hearing about all of the pain, heartache, and grief in marriages, and not have it bring you down?”
This question never fails to baffle me, since my experience as a couples counselor is so completely different. Where others see disconnection, heartache and pain, I see an opportunity for hope and for healing.
I see the depth and the gallantry of the human spirit striving to push through. To be more. To love more.
Yes, we have to unearth, acknowledge, and eventually integrate the dark, the ugly, and the despair. But doing so releases the love buried beneath.
That’s what I see each and every day in my office, or in my workshops: the light shining through again in people’s lives, into their hearts, and into their marriages.
I get to witness the veracity and the tenacity of people striving to be better today than they were yesterday. I get to see people become more kind, more assertive, more generous and more loving. I get to see relationships become stronger, more resilient, and more joyful.
Right before my eyes, I get to witness people become more whole because of the opportunity their relationship provides them. Their “broken marriage” or their “poor communication” or their “lack of connection” was actually the catalyst for breathtaking transformation.
And I am given the honor, and great privilege, to walk beside them through that process.
What could be more spectacular than that?
From the age of 12, I knew I was going to be a therapist. I had no idea, really, what that even meant, but in my gut I knew it was the work I was meant to do. And I have never wavered from that path.
I’m not sure how I knew. I just know that little, dorky junior-high-schooler me applied and was somehow accepted into a summer program to study Freud with a bunch of high school students. I was also “that person” in school whom everyone came to talk to about their joys and their fears, their insecurities, and their secrets. By the ripe age of 16, I was reading every book I could find on different therapy modalities and had begun my own individual therapy.
Looking back, I can see that sensitive, moody child—a sponge to the swirling emotions around me—simply wanted (more accurately probably needed) to fathom the human heart.
So, I received my Masters in Counseling Psychology from Vermont College in 1985 with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Counseling. I had the privilege of studying with Walter Kempler, M.D. in Los Angeles, a master clinician, who founded Gestalt Family Therapy.
Upon graduation, I moved to Seattle, met my husband, and in 1986 started my practice. A few years later we married, and had our two precious children. After nine years in Seattle, we decided to leave the big city and move north to Bellingham, Washington. It was around that time that a colleague invited me to a workshop led by John Gottman. His research in couples therapy was refreshing and revolutionary—and reaffirmed my passion for marriage counseling. I was determined to learn more.
I was one of 12 clinicians hand-picked, from their first two workshops, to be the Gottman Institute’s first clinicians. Together, we met with John and Julie Gottman twice a month for several years, to discuss and refine what is now known as The Gottman Method Couples Therapy.
This was followed by the immense honor of being asked to be one of their original six Master Clinicians. I trained clinicians in three different countries on how to become a Certified Gottman Therapist. I co-presented the first Art and Science of Love workshop off the West Coast (in Chicago).
I spent the next 20 years rubbing shoulders with some of the finest clinicians in couples therapy—learning, practicing and teaching through the Gottman Institute and as a presenter of The Art and Science of Love workshop.
Those experiences, as well as the work and influences of other great clinicians and teachers such as Sue Johnson, have ushered me along my own path as a therapist.
But this isn’t about me–it’s about YOU
My training and credentials mean nothing if I am not able to help you and your partner heal the hurts, bridge the chasm and carve a new path back to a sweet spot of soulful and satisfying connection. But not a temporary ‘fix’— no, temporary is not the intention. Together we can create a clear path of what each of you needs to do differently in order to have the resilient, harmonious marriage of your dreams.
I offer two paths for you to do this. One is my unique therapy approach, gleaned from evidence-based strategies, known as Marathon Couples Therapy.
The second is The Mindful Love Course, where I share my 35 years’ experience in couples therapy with couples worldwide. I am thrilled to know that more couples than ever before can have access to the proven skills and strategies I’ve seen help marriages repair, heal, and flourish.
This is the work I love to do, and my greatest wish is to help you bring more light, love, and connection into your life and into your relationship.