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Oil painting of two birds, found in the office of couples, marriage, and same-sex relationship counselor Dr. Robert Solley of Valencia Street, San Francisco

Couples Counseling, Marriage Counseling, and Same-Sex Relationship Counseling in San Francisco and Online

How I Can Help

I offer specific, practical counseling methods to help you calm your emotional reactivity together, bridge distance that may have grown between you, and engage with each other in new ways that are more effective, productive, and fulfilling. My office is conveniently located on Valencia in the Mission District, San Francisco!

It is important to know that lots of therapists do couples counseling or marriage counseling (these terms are interchangeable), but fewer of them have extensive training and in-depth experience in this specialty. Make sure you find out what your therapist’s particular qualifications are for couples therapy. (For more on this, see Finding a Good Couples Therapist.)

My role as a therapist is to help you understand more deeply: 
  • How to communicate with your partner in a constructive way that can:

    • minimize defensiveness and counterargument

    • bring you closer together

    • build more positive experience as a couple

  • How the emotional brain was designed by evolution to protect you, but how instead it can stoke conflict or lead to distance (or both!) in relationships

  • The structure and process of your specific conflicts and patterns

  • How personal characteristics of each partner play into your situation

  • How patterns are carried into your current relationship from the families you grew up in, and how they affect things now

  • How to empathize with your partner in a way that will replace anger with new understandings

  • And then most importantly, how you and your partner can each adjust your responses to the other in order to slow down–and ultimately stop–the cycles of blame, hurt and conflict

  • And from there how you can work towards the relationship you would like to have and the kind of person you aspire to be

Your primary role as a client is to allow yourself to be open and reflective to learning new ways of seeing, hearing, feeling, and trying new things.

The more you can focus on learning about yourself as an individual, and on taking risks to be vulnerable (instead of dwelling on your partner’s faults), the faster and more positively your relationship will progress (and the more time, money and effort you will save in the long run).

Getting Started

A stitch in time really does save nine. Research shows that it is much easier to change patterns early-on rather than after they have become deeply entrenched habits and interactions. It is still possible to change longer-term patterns as well, depending on individual motivation and willingness to reflect, try new things, and other factors, but the longer you wait the more you will have to put in.

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