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A Time for Us

Every relationship has its ups and downs.  For recurring issues that are never resolve and for learning new approaches to old conflicts, sometimes a third-party can make a world of difference:

I am thinking that the urbanMamas community is the place to come for a good referral for a couples counselor.  My husband and I are still figuring out life as a couple with a kiddo and it's been long enough that I think we're going in circles more than really figuring anything out. So who have you seen? What did you like about them? I'm sure we're not alone in this, but it's such a hard one to talk candidly about (and I'd rather go on recommendation than start in the yellow pages).


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I refer many patients to Doug Golden PhD in SW Portland. His number is 228-6071.

I just wanted to say that I hear you! having children (especially those who aren't as-simple-as-the-'typical'-child) is, while many couples' ultimate dream, certainly one of the top few most trying issues a relationship can face. my husband and I argue more over discipline and other child-related things than anything else -- by several factors.

so it's kind of funny when I watch 'The Bachelor' and all the women say, 'he'd be such a great dad!' and I think, oh, sweetie, you have no idea what you're getting into.

I refer many folks to Ed Versteeg, Ph.D. in SW Portland; he has a lot of great experience - 684.6205, or in NE Portland, Thomas Doherty, Ph.D., who is younger, if you connect with that better, 288.1213. If you would prefer to work with a woman, Kim Marriott, Ph.D. is great (NE Portland) 502.2256; or Marcia Wood, Ph.D. (on SW Macadam) 248.4511. Good for you for seeking some support before things get overwhelming.

Another recommendation I will make, should you decide not to see a therapist, or in addition to it, is to read John Gottman's books on marriage; he is a researcher in Seattle who does great research on marriage - the book 'The Seven Principles of Making Marriage Work' has been helpful for me personally as well as in my work as a therapist. More relevant even is their new book, 'And Baby Makes Three' - while I haven't read it yet, I think in general he uses great information from years of research on what helps couples thrive to recommend ways to continue working on keeping your marriage healthy.

I just wanted to echo Molly's comment about John Gottman's work. It was referred to me by a friend who works as a therapist and it was incredibly insightful and helpful.

I don't have much to offer except that I feel for you and we have felt the struggle of this monumental life change as well. A welcome and happy life change but still not easy. Take it easy on yourselves. We try to simply keep talking to keep our honest feelings out in the open, no matter how ugly they are sometimes. I also find that reconnecting physically.. not just sexually, but cuddling in bed even if you kind of don't feel like it creates a sort of compassionate link... a reconnection. I dunno. Just some thoughts.

I read a book that really changed the way I viewed my marriage after children. I have highly recommended it to all my friends. It's written by a researcher. There are a lot of "oh, that's why" and "ah ha!" moments. It really helps you understand the other's perspective. It's titled Transition to Parenthood by Jay Belsky and John Kelly. You can find it at Mult. Library. Although I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it is not a substitute for therapy. GOod luck!

Michael A. Christenson, PhD, Clinical Psychologist, 224-4259, 1012 SW King.

He's really made a difference in our marriage.

I recommend Mark Wald. He is in NE Portland and does Imago counseling with couples. His number is 503-827-7000. He is great.

how timely - i just logged on to check the archives for marriage counselor recommendations and it's today's topic. yay! thanks for the recommendations...

I know the worlds best couples counselor (in my opinion. Her name is Kathy Eastman, she offers a sliding scale if you need one and offers a very non traditional way of working with you. Her office is very non clinical and more spiritual, very comfy. My husband was opposed at first to therapists in general but she is so warm and amazing that he changed his mind. We went through something I thought would ruin us and she was awesome, doesn't take sides and gives us lots of encouragement, praise, and non conventional ideas for making our lives together the best they can be.
She is in SE and her number is 503-943-9628

This is for you. For people you know. To share with friends in your work place, neighborhood or community network.

Between Us is a stand alone or series of informal, hands-on workshops that promote and explore what it takes to have a healthy relationship, with anyone. You will learn a lot about yourself and the ways you communicate and interact with others.

Between Us is offered at no cost and for any stage of life (married couples, singles, teens and engaged). Possible topics include: “Talking Without Fighting”, “What Is Love Anyway?”, “Commitment”, “Expectations” and “How to Avoid Marrying a Jerk/Jerkette”.

Classes are taught by Masters’ level clinician Rebecca Phipps. Rebecca has reached over 600 people this year.

Sessions are typically booked to span four to six weeks. We are scheduling now for summer and fall.

Please contact Rebecca to arrange programming specific to your needs. We can accommodate individuals, couples or larger groups.

Thank you!

Rebecca Phipps
Between Us
Program of Catholic Charities
447 NE 47th Street, Suite 100
Portland, Oregon 97213
503-238-5196 x 227

Mamas, we'd love even more suggestions and recommendations. We recently received an email from an urbanMama:

"The time has come for my husband and I to fine tune our relationship, so I am looking for a recommendation for a marriage counselor in Portland."

My husband and I have seen Matthew Stockton, MA. He's a younger counselor who has a very relaxed, listening-centered approach that we felt comfortable with.

Shauri Bunch (www.shauribunch.com). We've seen her on and off for about a year and she's been a perfect fit for us. Very down-to-earth, welcoming, nice, and professional all at once. She's not too feel-goody and is very pragmatic... both things that my husband and I are happy with.

I highly recommend Rita Maynard, PsyD (503-692-4092). She is very perceptive, focused, straightforward, warm, and able to help us address our styles as well as the content of our challenges. Working with her has made a very big difference for me and my husband.

To piggyback on another comment (above), I haven't been to counseling with her but I know Kathy Eastman personally (she's my cousin) and I can tell you she's one of the most wonderful people ever, anywhere! A truly extraordinary human being.

I recommend Dale Rhodes at Enneagram Portland. His approach works with you and your partners' personality type, and he is amazingly intuitive. Partly spiritual, in a secular, open way, partly listening-guru, he really got me and my husband quickly, and understood how we interact--and don't--well. Enneagram Portland also holds regular lower cost group workshops. I am skeptical of "systems" that typecase people, but this one, based on earlier psychological and spiritual systems, is right on target, for us. http://www.enneagramportland.com/rhodes.html

We have used Dan Bernard and had a great experience. It was about 5 years ago but we still use the information and skills he gave us.

Have you guys heard of the Gottman Institute's Bringing Baby Home Curriculum? It is geared toward parents and how to keep your relationship healthy with the added stress of children in the mix. It's pretty awesome.


I am also looking for a marriage counselor, but I'm not sure if I can get my husband to go with me. Is there any type of solo marriage counseling? It seems contradictory, I know, but what else do you do?

Couples and spouses who are facing problem in their love or marriage relationship can attend couple counseling program under the supervision of board certified family and couple counselors. This is also known as couple therapy. Therapists not only try to save marriage relationship, rather then that they also give psychotherapy to couples and their children facing mental health illness due to conflict in relationships. Couple therapy ensures the confidentiality and privacy of couple’s personal relationships and provides them appropriate relationship enrichment tips for long-lasting healthy relationships.

Lisa, I work as a counselor and I see couples and individuals. If you are not able to get your husband to go to couples counseling with you, you might want to consider starting individual for yourself. This would not be couples work per se, but just doing counseling work by yourself would likely have positive effects on your life.
However, if the issues you really want to work on are mostly related to your relationship, it may be frustrating to talk about them in counseling without your partner being present. You could try to explore with your husband why he is reluctant to try counseling with you, and if there is anything that would make him feel more comfortable about going (gender of the counselor, issues discussed, etc). I generally find that couples that I see in my practice see a marked improvement in their communication and in the quality of their relationship in relatively short periods of time. Not that it is a cure-all but, couples counseling can offer many tools that you have not tried.

Check out Susan Bramlette. She is awesome! Tons of experience working with couples and located near NW 23rd.
Her website is: susanbramlette.com or call her at 503-956-5144

I cannot recommend Raymond Mitchell, MFCC, (503-226-90630 highly enough! My husband and I were separated for 6 months starting last summer. We started seeing Raymond and knew after our first session that we would find our way to where we needed to go, with his help. We still go to him and are always amazed at how much ground we cover and how close we feel even after working through some very tough stuff. He mostly uses Imago Therapy (based on "Getting the Love You Want" by Harville Hendrix) but also other techniques as well.

A friend called me today to tell me that he had referred another friend who was on the brink of divorce to Raymond and they too have found that there is hope.

It's hard work but it is really doable and you can have a satisfying and fulfilling relationship, really!

Also, a few excellent books: Conscious Loving by Gay & Kathlyn Hendricks, The High-Conflict Couple by Alan Fruzzetti, and The 30 Secrets of Happily Married Couples by Dr. Paul Coleman.

Good luck and yes, take the time for your relationship and for yourself!

Karin Chuang is very down to earth, excellent ability to connect and very skilled. She is easy to speak with and highly recommend her. karinchuang.com

Does anyone have any recommendations for counselors/therapists who can help with couples that struggle with being on same page with parenting?

Is there such a place or center that offers counseling and childcare by the hour? We need help communicating and making our marriage better, but we always have the kids with us.

We have used Norene Gonsiewski at Portland Relationship Center with great results. She uses Imago therapy. We had been to other counselors as well but after using Imago (a system that teaches you how to dialogue), I truly believe it is the most effective counseling/system there is. No matter what the marriage issue, the first thing you need to do in the other person's shoes, dialoguing and communicating and that's what Imago helps you do.

They offer a workshop "Getting the Love You Want", which very likely saved our marriage (hate to be so dramatic but there it is)! The thing is, you do have to keep doing the exercises that you learn in your sessions / workshops -- that is what has been a challenge for us, is to take our warm loving feelings home and implement them in the midst of busy parenting lives. We've found that investing in a babysitter for weekly date night so we can date and work on our exercises is one of the best ways we can spend our money. Certainly better than divorce!

For the gal who was wondering about going to therapy without the partner - Portland Relationship Center offers individual therapy as well.

Separately I would also recommend a book called "The Truth About Love", by Pat Love (really!).

Best wishes to all the couples out there.

Can the person who recommended Raymond Mitchell say something more about him? Where is his office located? Do you know if he takes insurance? Is there something specific about his approach that helped you?

My husband and I are having a really hard time. He's depressed and feeling really ambivalent about our marriage. He's not going to go to therapy, but I sure could use some.


I cannot say enough good things about Dr. Dan Rubin, on 16h and SE Ankeny. I have had experiences with therapists for solo and couples work, and he is superb. I like his "functional" approach and every session gives insight. Kind, non-judgemental and real. He is amazing.

I second a recommendation for Mark Wald. He does really great work. He is even worth it to see if your feeling fairly happy in the relationship and want to be closer.

A few months ago, I was going to leave my husband after almost 10 yrs. of a marriage of constant lying. Our relationship had been and is strong except for the distrust. I honestly thought that I'd done all I could to save my marriage (before we went to counseling).
As a last ditch effort, I agreed to go to a therapist before I go to a divorce attorney. I wasn't too awful hopeful but I was committed to trying the one thing I hadn't yet tried.
In just shy of 3 months my marriage is so much back on the track that it should be that he and I are astonished and somewhat embarrassed to look back at what we were just a few months ago and how bad it had gotten over the years. Now we don't even recognize those people we were.

I really believe it was the hand of God that directed my husband to find Susan Bramlette. We had not had much luck with the therapists we'd found in the past for our daughter and my husband so we braced ourselves for having to probably visit several different therapists to find a good one. Imagine the free time we had when, after the first and second visit, we realized that we got a goody and didn't need to look for anyone else.

Here is the link my husband found before we called her to make our first appointment.


I cannot say enough good things about Mitch Bacon. He offered us great skills to improve our communication and help us find some balance with our relationship, parenting and all the demands in between... I believe he also does a lot of work with adolescent males which seems like a job many people chose not to take on! He comes highly recommended.

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