Couple Therapy

Long term relationships can be very difficult to maintain. Normal life stresses cause chaos and bring out deep rooted patterns that negatively impact both members of the couple. Couples often settle into a comfortable relationship, but can frequently take each other for granted. The security of knowing that a partner is there can be comforting, but also needs to be prioritized. Barbara often finds that couples forget to make one another important. They generally deal well as parents, are effective in the workplace, and have many friendships, but neglect one another. Relationships need to be nurtured, which requires time and attention.

Normal life transitions like the birth of a baby, death of an elderly parent, empty nest, etc. can be very stressful. In these times, couples don’t always support one another as well as they could, as fears and anxieties get in the way. Barbara specializes in working with stressful transitions with couples and families, enabling them to share deeper feelings and understand the dynamics of their relationships. Barbara teaches couples new ways to communicate, to connect and to repair old wounds.

Throughout the past forty years, Barbara has had the privilege of working with many diverse families and couples. She has worked with traditional as well as alternative families. She has experience with straight as well as lesbian and gay couples and families. She has worked with single parent families, inter-racial families, adoptive and blended families. She has helped three parent families navigate their path. Every family has its unique qualities and Barbara aims to build on their strengths with respect for their differences.

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Divorce Coach

Divorce is one of the most stressful and painful life experiences. It ranks number 2, next to death of a loved one, on the stress scale, so it cannot be minimized. The process can be very difficult and requires enormous support. As a divorce coach, Barbara works together with a mediator or team of lawyers (and often a financial professional) to promote a humane and hopefully amiable divorce. This is a collaborative process, where the couple makes a commitment to open and transparent communication, honestly and fairness. They also agree not to go to court. Avoiding court can save a couple a tremendous amount of emotional turmoil as well as money!

Barbara helps her clients sort out their priorities, focus on their children and aids them in managing the strains and pains of the divorce. Strategies to deal with the emotional triggers during the divorce process are discussed and practiced. Sometimes Barbara joins the collaborative team and attends meetings together with the attorneys. This is often a helpful asset as she is able to monitor and deal with the emotions that can erupt during the meetings. Clients often feel very supported when her presence is added to meetings. She aims to facilitate the process making it smoother, helping to reduce conflict and enhance the well being of the post-divorce bi-nuclear family.

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Family Specialist

For most parents, the hardest issue in the divorce is dealing with their children. Some children deal better than others. It is most helpful when both parents can put aside their hard feelings with one another and not put their children in the middle. Parents need to realize that even though they are divorcing as spouses, they never divorce as parents. They will forever be in a relationship as co-parents, so the goal is to make it a good one.

As a family specialist, Barbara helps parents develop their narrative, explaining the divorce to their children. They work on anticipating their children’s reactions and strategize how to respond. They work on developing a parenting plan that fits their lifestyle. There is no “right” parenting plan, as every family has different needs. Parent’s work schedules, children’s ages, their school and activities all need to be taken into consideration to create the best plan. Vacations, holidays and extended family issues need to be discussed and agreed upon.

Barbara meets with children when necessary, and uses their input to help parents deal with issues to make important decisions. She helps parents and children deal with painful feelings and facilitates communication between them. Barbara assists parents in structuring their new relationship and resolve issues of differing parenting styles.

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Mediation is a non-adversarial process of conflict resolution, and it works!

When working as a mediator, Barbara functions as an impartial facilitator, a neutral person, to assist partners in reaching a mutually satisfying agreement. This process is based on openness and full disclosure to promote the best possible outcomes for both parties. This is a transparent process, where partners are encouraged to be honest and involves the participants solving their own problems. Through facilitated discussions, parties talk about their interests, and help each other understand what is most important to them and why. Then they generate all the possible options to get to the best possible solutions for the problems. The goal is to resolve conflicts in the most amiable way possible. It is not about winning, but rather arriving at a fair and equitable settlement.

When Barbara works with a couple in divorce mediation, she advises each person to consult with an attorney who will be their review attorney at the conclusion of the process. This ensures that each has representation and can answer any legal questions. In addition, if financial matters are complicated, a financial neutral is suggested to advise the couple on the best possible strategies to separate their funds and consider the tax consequences. Mediation is not for everyone, but it is a viable choice for the dissolution of a relationship/marriage for many people.

Elder Mediation is a specialty in which Barbara has training. It is a process to assist families to make decisions for their aging members. Dealing with an elderly parent who is losing memory or no longer can care for him or herself can cause enormous emotional strains. In many families, care giving for an elderly member is fraught with conflict amongst the younger family members. People have differing views of the best ways to be helpful and sometimes assistance of a mediator can be beneficial. Issues can involve home care options, living arrangements, finances, family communication etc. In elder mediation, each family member has the opportunity to participate in the process both with and without the family member in question. Each person’s interests are discussed, options are generated and solutions are sought. Communication is facilitated and decision making is the goal, balancing the needs of all family members. Barbara seeks to bring families together during these stressful times.

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Parent Coordination

Parent coordination is a service for separated and divorced parents to assist them in co-parenting their children. Oftentimes couples enter into PC voluntarily as they know they need help in communicating and resolving issues about their kids. Sometimes, PC is court ordered, as judges send couples to PC in an attempt to help them work out differences in an amiable way. The goal is for parents to be able to work together effectively as co-parents in a bi-nuclear family.

Divorce is a difficult process, and anger and animosity are common. In parent coordination, Barbara works on helping couples separate their spousal relationship from their parental one, as the parental relationship lives on, when the spousal relationship has dissolved. The relationship changes focus and becomes a business relationship working on the “business of co-parenting”. The aim is to keep parents out of court and help them arrive at mutually satisfying decisions together.

Research on divorce tells us that children of divorced families can grow up well and happy and are resilient. But the key elements are that they experience little parental conflict and are not put in the middle. The process of parent coordination stresses these issues. Barbara educates the parents on important developmental issues, works to establish rules that the parents can live with and helps them disengage from their negative behavior and establish new patterns.

Each situation is different and work with each set of parents reflects those differences. Sometimes there are individual meetings along with the joint meetings. Sometimes children are brought into the conversation to understand their perspectives and help them deal more effectively with their situation. Other times, significant others are invited in to clarify issues and establish appropriate boundaries. The frequency of meetings is based on the needs of each family. The PC process can be as long or as short as the parents needs dictate.

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