Relationships can be a source of strength, security, and healing. Relationships can also be hard. Past experiences, both good and bad, influence how we react and respond in relationship. Past pain can linger in the back of our minds, causing us to lash out or withdraw when we see signs of history repeating itself. When these self-protective responses evoke memories of pain in our partner, we can get stuck in an escalating cycle that feels impossible to overcome.
The good news is that even though these cycles may be inevitable, they are not impossible. In fact, they present us with an opportunity to transform past pain and achieve deeper connection. To create this transformation, we will get curious about these cycles. We will explore how the past shows up in the present and uncover the underlying needs that drive you. Equipped with this new knowledge of yourself and your partner, you can both start to respond differently to each other and interrupt these painful cycles. Over time, these new experiences can transform your current pain into a feeling of security in your relationship and within yourself.
My approach is trauma-informed and rooted in social justice theory. Rather than imposing a one-size-fits-all framework, I collaborate with couples to tailor therapy to their needs. The pace, intensity, and depth of our work are all within your control. I strive to interpret what I see from a place of cultural humility and respect, and I encourage feedback when I fail in this regard. I draw upon an eclectic mix of psychological theory including psychodynamic, transpersonal, and experiential modalities. With couples, I primarily use an evidenced-based approach called Emotionally-Focused Couples Therapy.
The couples I work with are diverse in terms of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender expression, age, relationship structure, and disability.
– Masters of Arts in Integral Counseling Psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies, 2020
– Emotionally-Focused Couples Therapy Externship, 2023
– Psychobiological Approach to Couples Therapy, Level 1, 2022
– Love Made Simple Couples Therapy Training, 2021
– Child-Centered Play Therapy training, 2022
– Continuous Case Conference at the San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis, 2021-2022
– Practicum and Associate training programs at the Integral Counseling Center at Pierce Street, 2020-2021
Jennifer Smith, AMFT