Therapeutic Style (short version)

I actively provide guidance and structure within the therapy.

In therapy with me you will:

• learn how attachment patterns from
   childhood unconsciously effect
   your relationship

• identify and change the vicious cycles
   that block intimacy

• learn how to communicate effectively

• learn practices that will assist you to
   embody the relationship you want

Couples' Therapy

Jim provides couples therapy in his Petaluma office. He is a licensed psychologist (psy15031) with hundreds of hours of specialized training in couples therapy within a variety of models. Currently, Jim is becoming certified in the EFT model.

For further information about Jim read his bio at
Introduction to Jim and Felicia or check his psychotherapy web site

Generally, couples therapy sessions are once a week for 60 or 90 minutes. However, couples from out-of-town can come for extended weekend sessions that are between three and six hours.

Therapeutic Style (long version)

Jim Matto-Shepard, Ph.D.

Newsletter & Free Article

Subscribe Now

A good relationship is like a plant, you have to water and fertilize it for it to be healthy.

On the surface it is simple. When each person in a relationship pays attention to being the best partner and person he or she can be, and then turns their loving attention to the other, things will (generally) grow more loving and enjoyable.

Of course the implementation is not so easy.

"Why should I struggle to do what he/she wants when I already do so much?" "I'm sick of being the one that tries." Sure I have my part in it, but if he/she would just stop (insert your most hated behavior) everything would be fine."

Each partner's bad habits and reactive feelings make the other's even worse. Even things that seem like they should be easy can get tangled into a morase of pain and misunderstanding.

I can help you sort out why things are not working.

But, more importantly, I can help you make them better.

As your therapist, it will be my job to assist you to understand how each person in the relationship contributes to the patterns and dynamics which create the problems in the relationship. And I will offer specific practice structures that can help you shift these patterns. In sessions, I will model ways to effectively communicate and we well create experiences together that will allow you to work through resentments, to forgive, to be accountable and to soften into deep intimacy.

Specific issues we may address include:

• clarifying relationship goals
• clarifying personal values regarding relationship
• clarifying commitment to the relationship
• speaking in ways that promote intimacy
      • speaking for yourself
      • saying what you want
      • expressing appreciation
      • expressing dissatisfaction without blaming
• listening (and understanding)
• creating and tolerating intimacy
• creating increased sexual satisfaction
• management of anger and other reactivity
• tolerating differences

I will take an active role in guiding your therapy. I will not just sit there and let you continue to do the same things that have not worked for years. I will make suggestions about what will help and may ask you to take a hard look at yourself. I will also offer encouragement, help identify options when you are stuck, and celebrate with you as we come to places of softening, breakthrough and joy.

Sometimes the question arises, how long will it take to change our relationship? Changing destructive relationship patterns which have continued for a long period of time and have caused a great deal of hurt is not easy or quick. Couples therapy may help create significant change in your relationship within twelve weeks, or can take much longer, depending upon the severity of the problem and each partners willingness to fully engage in the process.

Things that you can do to make the process quicker and more effective are:

• Come to therapy consistently - make it a priority in your life.
• Work on your relationship through the development of yourself.
• Come to sessions prepared to engage and take chances.
• Initiate conversations in the therapy about what is happening for you that is uncomfortable or intolerable.
• Carry what is discussed during sessions into the week:
      • practice new behaviors
      • bring increased awareness to difficult situations
      • do homework.
• Work toward deep honesty with yourself and your partner.
• Be interested in partner's experience.
• Give your partner a chance (and time) to change him/herself.
• Pay attention to what has changed between sessions.
• Take yourself on and push toward personal change.

If you work rigorously to become the husband or wife that you want to be, you will feel better, will further your growth and improve your life. By trusting your partner to work on him- or herself, you provide the loving container and fertile soil which optimizes the other's opportunity for growth. If both partners concentrate on working toward being the partner that they want to be, each will have more to offer the other, the viscous cycles that have perpetuated the relationship difficulty will be broken and the relationship will improve.

Most of us do not find very many examples of long-term relationships which are constructive and positive. Perhaps, together, we can change this.

The work of being a person capable of understanding and tolerating deep intimacy not only creates more personal satisfaction, it provides a model for children, friends and family.

For more information about how I view relationships see Our Philosophy. ©2006-2018 Jim Matto Shepard & Felicia Matto Shepard. All rights reserved.