Holistic, Integrative Counseling for Couples

with Edie Stone, MA, LPC, in Boulder, Colorado.

Helping couples reconnect and deepen their relationships since 1997.

BoulderCouplesCounseling.com and EdieStone.com

  • Why use holistic counseling for your relationship issues?
  • What are integrative approaches to marriage therapy?

Why holistic couples counseling?

Because stress, anxiety, low libido, or depression can bring your relationship down!  Because emotional reactivity and defensiveness can interfere with your connection! Because trauma, loss, or difficult family-of-origin issues in either or both partners can definitely impact the relationship!

I always like to look at the big picture, which includes a holistic mind, body, heart, and soul approach to couples therapy:

  • Learn relaxation skills to lower stress and improve emotional regulation.
  • Deepen the conversation with body awareness. 
  • Expand emotional awareness to reduce conflict and deepen your heart-to-heart connection.
  • Explore family-of-origin issues and attachment styles to move beyond your history. 
  • Understand how trauma history affects relationship.
  • Find holistic support for low libido and sexual desire.

Let’s take these topics one by one…

1. Learn relaxation skills to lower stress and improve emotional regulation.

I will work with both of you to learn easy, effective relaxation skills to lower anxious or emotionally reactive responses. I will teach you a simple, natural way of breathing out that has an immediate, direct effect on calming your nervous system. I can share other relaxation and body-mind tools as needed.

Mindfulness practices can be very helpful in lowering stress, improving emotional resilience, and increasing empathy, attunement, and emotional intimacy. (Mindfulness can also be called present-centered awareness, being in the Now, or body-mind awareness.)

If needed, I will help you develop and practice an effective pause or time-out routine to reduce confrontations that are damaging your relationship. The time-out also includes some “time-in” to calm and nurture yourselves individually.

2. Deepen the conversation with body awareness. 

Couples counseling is not just talk. Body language is an important aspect of relationship.

When needed, I will help both of you fine-tune your body-mind-heart awareness. This often includes noticing not just your emotional state, but also tuning into your body, and discovering what area in your body is associated with that emotion.

For example, anger may be expressed in the face, but it is often held in the chest as well. People who “hold back” anger sometimes hold chronic tension in the back, and may never have been aware of that connection.

Body awareness practice also helps you to stay more present in the moment, and slows the conversation down. It will help you focus on what is most truly important for you. And it will help you understand and empathize with your partner’s struggles.

3. Expand emotional awareness to reduce conflict and deepen your heart-to-heart connection.

Couples counseling is not just talk. Deepening your emotional awareness and responsiveness helps strengthen your connection.

An example:

Partners are having a heated exchange, and we already know this is one of their patterns. Rather than going for a verbal resolution, I may pause the conversation and ask each to notice their feeling state.

Then I may ask the listening partner to reflect back to the speaker not just his/her words, but the emotions underneath. This may take a few tries to really get the specific emotion. Spouses who have been together for years may assume they know the feelings of the other. But even they can be surprised when their assumptions miss the mark.

This is because emotions are often layered. For example, if anger is easy for one partner to express, underneath that anger may lie fear, or even a pool of sadness that is too painful to speak about. Weepiness or emotional withdrawal may cover anger, if that partner has not felt safe to express anger, as a child or as an adult. I will guide this exploration, helping each of you get in touch with your real feelings.

Developing emotional responsiveness has enormous benefits for personal growth as well as for deepening your emotional intimacy.

4. Explore family-of-origin issues and attachment styles to move beyond your history.

Our experience as children has a profound effect on our experience in relationship.

This does not mean that we are bound by a difficult history, nor that we need to endlessly process the wounds from a dysfunctional family. But understanding how your family-of-origin issues are still affecting your interactions in your relationship can help you move beyond your history.

5. Understand how trauma history affects relationship.

A history of trauma in either partner will affect your relationship. Trauma doesn’t have to be “Big T Trauma” (e.g. physical violence, sexual abuse) to make an impact on your interactions as a couple or in other areas of your life. Small-t trauma (e.g. freezing in speech class and being teased about it) can also affect your emotional availability and communication styles.

If either of you have a history of trauma, please let me know so that we can adjust the couples therapy. I may share information about trauma theory, pace the therapy more slowly, or check in more frequently.

6. Discover mind-body approaches to depression and anxiety.

I have had clients whose irritability, low energy, low libido, moodiness, or anxiety problems were related to:

  • food allergies
  • low or high thyroid levels
  • low or high blood sugar
  • low or high blood pressure
  • adrenal fatigue
  • inflammation
  • candida, yeast, fungus, mold
  • leaky gut issues or poor microbiome balance
  • dental infection
    • Yes, the bacteria that create toothaches can also lead to heart damage  and, very rarely, to treatment-resistant depression!

So as I get to know each of you in the couples sessions, if your mood or anxiety levels haven’t improved as much as expected, I may suggest doing some research into physical influences on mental and emotional states.

I may also suggest getting a medical check up, and/or seeing a holistic health practitioner to check for underlying physical or dietary causes of chronic low energy or emotional patterns.

Addressing underlying physical and emotional issues can make couples therapy easier and more effective.

7. Find holistic support for low libido and sexual desire.

If there is a difference between partners in your levels of sexual desire, or a decrease sexual interest in either, there are definitely ways we can work with that in couples therapy.

But it is also valuable to know if there are any imbalances in hormone levels. Imbalances can include thyroid and adrenal function, etc., as well as male and female sex hormones. The good news is that there are holistic ways of supporting your hormonal functioning instead of … or in addition to … medications.

Any of the issues on the above list, including blood pressure, can affect your libido level or sexual performance.