"In insecure relationships, we disguise our vulnerabilities so our partner never really sees us."
— Sue Johnson
Even previously happy couples are finding themselves struggling during these uncertain times, and distressed couples may be experiencing even greater tumult. Domestic violence and separations are on the rise. Old or chronic problems may be reemerging as stress increases, but often flaring up in response to the stress of the times, not from inside the marriage.
During this difficult time, I help couples discern what problems they can tackle right now, and which ones they can put on hold. I help them avoid making marital problems worse, and in many cases, can help couples feel closer, and more like a capable team, navigating challenges effectively together.
Many couples who come to see me are struggling with one, or more, of the following problems:
The same escalating argument over and over again. Fights often seem to be provoked by trivial matters.
Questions about compatibility.
Needing more space and independence in their relationship OR greater closeness and security. Often, one partner longs to feel closer while the other wants more space.
Mismatched sexual desire, and/or concerns about partner's sexual interests.
Anxious and avoidant attachment combinations.
One partner is leaning toward divorce while the other wants to stay.
Loss of "spark."
Relationship therapy with me usually begins with an initial conjoint session in which I take a basic psychological and relational history, form a preliminary understanding of problematic relational patterns and goals, and detail requirements for couple therapy with me. Each partner then schedules an individual appointment with me to explore individual histories. Occasionally, more than one individual session per partner is necessary. We then meet for a conjoint session in which I offer my conceptualizations and a treatment plan. I estimate that most couples meet with me for 8-18 further treatment sessions, depending on their presenting problems and goals.
I am a Graduate of The Developmental Model of Couples Therapy Training under Ellyn Bader Ph.D. at The Couples Institute. While this is the model I use in relationship work, I am trained extensively in, and am greatly influenced by, Emotionally Focused Therapy for couples, and I have a background in the Gottman Method.
Discernment counseling is a brief (1-5 session) solution for couples who are ambivalent about a direction for their relationship: "We don't know if we want to separate, nor do we know if we want to commit to relationship/marital therapy. We're stuck!"
To schedule an appointment for relationship therapy, or discernment counseling, or simply to ask questions about either, I welcome you to contact me using the contact form below.
Selected related works & experiences:
Mary is interviewed by FamilyShare on why spouses change after marriage.
Mary is quoted in Stylecaster about being a less controlling partner.
Mary is quoted in Bustle about jealousy.
Fisher, M. (2016). Treating polyamorous and consensually non-monogamous patients.
Presented at the Association for Women in Psychology inservice, Salt Lake City, UT.
Fisher, A. & Fisher, M. (2016, April). Attachment and quality of life among consensually
non-monogamous individuals. Presented at the Society for Sex Therapy and
Research, Chicago, Illinois.
Fisher, M. & Fehlberg, A. (2016, March). Mixed orientation marriage: Clinical and
ethical challenges. Presented at the LGBTQ-Affirmative Therapists Guild, Salt Lake City, Utah.
Fisher, M. (2016, February). Treating polyamorous and consensually non-monogamous
patients. Presented at Women in Private Practice, Salt Lake City, Utah.
Fisher, A. & Fisher, M. (2015, August). The other poly: Navigating consensual non-
monogamy. Sunstone Symposium, Salt Lake City, Utah.
Fehlberg, A., Fisher, M. (2015, March). Why Stay? Gay Individuals in Heterosexual
Relationships, presented at Generations, Salt Lake City, Utah.
Fisher, M. (2014, May). Emotionally Focused Therapy for Same-Sex Couples. Presented
at LGBTQ-Affirmative Therapists Guild, Salt Lake City, Utah.
Fisher, A. & Fisher, M. (2013). Sharing vulnerability after a change in beliefs. Sunstone,
March, 170, 14-17.
Fisher, A. & Fisher, M. (2012, July). When One Spouse Experiences a Change in Beliefs:
Strengthening Your Marriage through Shared Vulnerability. Presented at the
Sunstone Symposium, Salt Lake City, Utah.
Emotion Focused Therapy Core Skills 4/4 (November 2012). Scott Woolley, Ph.D.
Emotion Focused Therapy Core Skills 3/4 (August 2012). Rebecca Jorgenson, Ph.D.
Emotion Focused Therapy Core Skills 2/4 (June 2012). Scott Woolley, Ph.D.
Emotion Focused Therapy Core Skills 1/4 (March 2012). Rebecca Jorgenson, Ph.D.
Emotion Focused Therapy Externship (October 2011). Rebecca Jorgenson, Ph.D. & Scott Woolley, Ph.D.
Adult Attachment Interview Institute (February 2007). Sonja Gojman de Milan, Ph.D., San Diego, California.
Marital Therapy: A Research Based Approach (March 2004). John Gottman, Ph.D., The Gottman Institute, Seattle, WA.