Here at PRESENCE, we specialize in couples therapy. Our Founder, John Howard, is a nationally-recognized trainer and educator, helping couples therapists learn the latest methods. John developed the couples therapy program at the Dell/Seton Medical School, has taught a relationship wellness program for Google, and was 1 of 12 couples therapists in the world to form the founding core faculty of PACT, one of the world’s leading approaches to couples therapy. Many of our therapists train regularly in couples therapy and receive instruction and case consultation from John. While there are many therapists that are willing to see couples, it is rare to find therapists that specialize in couples therapy and have the right training. Couples therapy requires dedicated training and experience to navigate the complexity of a couple’s ‘dance’ and help a couple improve their relationship.
What is unique about our approach to couples therapy is that we don’t just sit around talking about your issues. We set clear goals, and then actually help you practice different habits in session until you are comfortable with your new skills and can use them more easily at home. Couples therapy has changed due to modern neuroscience research, and we understand now how important it is to work with the automatic, procedural system that guides many relationship behaviors. Our therapists determine the first obstacle that seems to be getting in the way of your connection, then work toward other issues from there, tackling dynamics in order of priority and helping you develop new skill quickly.
What is also unique about our approach is that we consider the interplay between psychological tendencies and habits, family history, culture, and physiology in order to fully understand what is involved in partner interactions. Could it be excessive stress or anxiety getting in the way of your connection? Attachment trauma in one or both partners? Difficulty managing emotions or calming the nervous system in conflict? Chronic pain causing depression and irritability? A tendency to lie and be deceptive due to critical parents in childhood? Low testosterone? ADD? A lack of skill in inviting your partner’s care when you need support? Or a lack of skill in knowing how to support someone emotionally? Both physical and psychological forces are at play in partner interactions and we help you decode the mess so you can act smarter as a team and take care of one another.
“John Howard is dynamic teacher of relationship science who has a talent for conveying complex research in simple, easy-to-apply ways. His lens on relationships is profound and he has the expertise to help even the most complex couples to deepen love, connection and understanding.” – Dr. Diane Poole-Heller, World-Renowned Psychologist
Couples should always come in before they think they should, because research shows that couples typically wait too long to seek support, allowing problems to cause more damage than they need to. We are strong believers in pro-active couples therapy that improves already-good relationships, helps take them to the next level, and protects them against issues becoming major problems.
No matter your issues, we’ve heard it all, and we’re ready to support you in reaching your relationship goals. Good or bad, relationships are some of the most meaningful experiences we have in life. It is worth investing time and energy into having the best versions of them we can have. Our therapists are passionate about helping couples deepen love and improve communication, and have specific training in couples therapy.
“If you want to transform your partnership, run, don’t walk, to John. As a couples therapist, John is the best of the best. He can help any couple significantly deepen their bond, connection and fun together. John is awesome!” – Carrie Contey, PhD, National Parenting Expert
In addition to the relationship benefits that can result from couples therapy, recent research recommends couples work as an effective way to work on individual issues, as our issues often arise from and are magnified in close relationships. Our culture at times promotes the notion of working on our issues individually, but even individual issues can sometimes be more effectively addressed when worked on together by a strong partnership. That is because the brain is wired for relationship, and we learn things more easily when such growth is supported day in and day out by those we share our lives with. Issues such as depression, anxiety and self-esteem often benefit from a couples therapy setting that gets both partners aligned around a common process and healing goal. Couples work also has the added benefit of improving fun and reducing stress in the home environment, which pays huge dividends to all family members.
“The Relationship Whisperer. My husband and I call John the Relationship Whisperer because he is so good at what he does. I have been in therapy since I was 18 and he is the best couples therapist I’ve worked with.” – C.W., Austin
Couples therapy has seen an explosion in new, ground-breaking research over the last 15 years. Improved brain-imaging technology, attachment research, nervous system insights as they relate to trauma, and studies on how to most effectively help our minds ‘learn new tricks’ have led to radical shifts in couples counseling. Gone are the 1970s approaches that emphasized structured communication and the therapist teaching each person how to behave or not to behave. Or even approaches that place the couples therapist in a mediator position, determining right and wrong. The new models of couples counseling focus on practicing new skills live in session, working as a team to improve, and helping each partner understand the other’s automatic reactions in order to increase safety, understanding and love.
Modern couples work is influenced by concepts from attachment theory, regulation theory, emotional research, trauma, somatic science and neurobiology. John teaches these methods nationally and employs them in his work. Our therapists have generally trained in several different prominent models of couples therapy including PACT (Stan Tatkin), EFT (Sue Johnson) and Gottman Method Couples Therapy. In addition, John has studied approaches that seek to understand the flow of energy between partners as well as the most current scientific methods of understanding physiology and nervous system activity in relationship interactions. John also trains PRESENCE therapists in his own approach, a blend of mindfulness, experiential therapy, neuroscience and psychobiology that leads to quick results.
John trained for six years under legendary couples therapist Dr. Stan Tatkin, widely regarded as one of the top couples therapists in the world. Dr. Tatkin is the author of Wired for Love and Your Brain on Love and a professor of family medicine at UCLA Medical School. John assisted Dr. Tatkin in his trainings as the first teaching assistant of Dr. Tatkin’s developing institute, and was eventually 1 of 12 couples therapists in the world invited to form the Core Faculty of the PACT Institute, the leading training organization that help couples therapists worldwide learn and practice the very latest science and methods in the field.
John has also studied with other notable leaders in the field of psychology such as Drs. Pat Ogden, Alan Schore, Dan Siegel, Steve Porges, Don Catherall, Bonnie Badenoch and Diana Fosha. He has studied the couples therapy work of Sue Johnson (Emotionally Focused Therapy–EFT) and is certified at Level II of Gottman Method Couples Therapy. Most importantly, John has many years of experience seeing couples of all types and ages for a variety of relationship goals and imparts that experience to our associate therapists. All our therapists train regularly in the most current approaches to relationship health and couples therapy.
John teaches Couples and Family Therapy at the new Dell/Seton Medical School, and is an adjunct professor in the Masters in Counseling program at St. Edward’s University. He presented “Bringing Interpersonal Neuroscience into Couples Therapy“ at the national Attachment, Trauma & Intimacy Conference in 2016 and collaborates with Dr. Diane Poole-Heller as a faculty member in her international Therapy Mastermind series. He is currently working on an innovative approach to couples therapy named Presence Therapy, that integrates mindfulness, interpersonal neurobiology, experiential psychotherapy and psychobiology.
Our approach to couples work is generally challenging, deep, and rewarding. With our support, couples work to get to the bottom of their issues so that they can be fearless at home and masters of their partnership. Goals are set at the beginning of the work and we move efficiently toward meeting them. Couples should come in ready to take their relationship to the next level!
“Now a closer, stronger couple. Our communication skills have markedly improved. My husband and I feel now safer and more open with each other. It’s wonderful to see my partner as a stable nurturing resource. Thanks John for all of your help! –J.I.
If you’re seeking couples therapy, our office will help you determine who on our staff has the right expertise and help you schedule your first appointment. Start getting support, finding relief, and working together to solve critical issues! Give us a call today!