Joan Fenold, LMFT
Psychotherapy for Individuals and Couples
Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco
Couples Therapy & Marriage Counseling in a Spiritual Context
My work with couples is guided by a model of “relationship as spiritual practice” and of “relational mutuality.”
In healthy mutual relationships each person can share his or her feelings, thoughts and ideas and feel that they have an impact on the other as well as on the relationship. Each person can allow themselves to remain open to being moved, to respond with compassionate understanding. Each person learns to make choices that will consider and take care of the relationship — this represents the basis for creating mutually empowering and growth-enhancing relationships.
As part of my therapy with couples and providing marriage counseling, I bring the idea that being-in-relationship is a spiritual practice–two voices in dialogue creating something new, two voices creating a “we” and empowering both.
Within the support of a contemplative environment in the psychotherapy we can come to see how all psychological problems are spiritual issues – ways in which we have lost a connection to our true selves. I try to help couples see that each difficulty provides a special kind of spiritual opportunity.
In my couples therapy sessions I support each person’s capacity to hold an awareness of themselves, their partner and their marriage or relationship. As I sit with a couple, my first priority is to notice the quality of their connection – which is always in the present moment. We can explore together the conditioned patterns and unconscious identities that arise from each person’s personal history – to deepen compassionate understanding and possibly prevent these patterns from causing further suffering.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama has said, “There is no denying that our happiness is inextricably bound up with the happiness of others. We cannot escape the necessity of love and compassion…Kindness then is my true religion…There is no need for complicated philosophy, doctrine or dogma. Our own heart, our own mind, is the temple.”