Togetherness and Apartness

by SunraySheryl on May 28, 2010

There’s nothing like a shared activity that both members of a couple enjoy equally well. For many, it could be traveling, dancing, watching movies, taking long walks, or even getting “lost” in a bookstore.

But doing things apart can also be an effective way of cementing your relationship. Sometimes it is just the way things pan out–one is meeting a friend while the other has a commitment or an opportunity in a different place.

For example, today I met a friend while my husband went to the horse races. He enjoys my friend, and I enjoy being with him at the races too, but today, we each did our own thing.

These opportunities can be golden moments to remember who you are as an individual, regardless of who else you are connected with. And that makes for good, healthy relationships–to have a well-defined and well-developed sense of self. (Otherwise known as a mature self!)

It takes conscious effort to keep togetherness and apartness in balance, to take your partner’s well-being and state of mind into consideration, and make sure it is always a win-win situation.

If you are struggling with either too much togetherness or apartness, or not being on the same page as your partner, consider discussing it with a more experienced couple or with a therapist.

Remember, I’m here for you in your relationship challenges!

Call me at 425 6521413 or email me .


I Thought We Were Both Speaking English!

by SunraySheryl on May 27, 2010

Have you ever stopped to consider how many of your relationship challenges are related to personality differences? As if it weren’t enough dealing with gender differences, right? (And cultural differences, now that’s a separate post.)

Sometimes we seem to be speaking another language than our spouse, because it sure seems like he or she isn’t comprehending us! These kinds of misunderstandings originate in seeing things from a different angle than the other person. That can be explained in some cases by differences in personality.

What to do in a situation like that? There’s more than one option, believe me.

A few of them aren’t too productive–like throwing your hands up in the air and giving up till next time, or walking off after throwing a sarcastic (though admittedly very cleverly worded) epithet in their direction. I’m sure you can think of other similar reactions.

More helpful is to come to an understanding of what your partner’s perspective is, and for your partner to try to see yours. This probably sounds easier than it is, especially if you are fed up and the situation has escalated through repeated instances, with emotions running high.

Here’s where I can help out. I am good at seeing where each person is coming from, and holding a neutral space in the counseling office, so that each person can feel heard by their partner and can learn to express themselves more effectively.

Feel free to contact me anytime at 4256521413 or by email . Or visit my counseling website at for more answers to your questions.


What’s the Real Reason?

by SunraySheryl on May 26, 2010

Have you ever had an argument/discussion with your partner, only to realize that all that intensity and disagreement was really about something else? For example, you have a heated debate about who left the garage door open, and when all is said and done, you are left feeling like something was completely left out.

I often refer to interactions that we all have with other people as being on several levels. At the very least, you have the surface issue, which is usually about the circumstances. Possibly there are times when exchanges between people are mostly just plain and simple–on this level. But I’m sure you’ve all had the experience of knowing for a fact that this discussion really isn’t about who did the dishes.

Perhaps the next level concerns trust. Can you count on the other person to do what he or she said they would do? Can you count on their word? Or maybe it’s about control. Who is the dominant partner, and in what areas? Possibly it’s a simple personality difference.

These situations make for great introductions in a therapy session. Often by starting with a simple incident that took place recently, we can unravel some of the underlying causes of discord or discontent between partners and other family members.

To find out more about the therapy work I do, go to my main website, and check out the FAQ page,
or sign up for my free “
31 Ways to Brighten Your Life.”
Or give me a call at
425 6521413.

Catch you later!


When the Unspeakable Happens

by SunraySheryl on May 25, 2010

Some of you might be wondering, does she work with people who have my problem?

Invariably, people who show up in a counselor’s office have very personal subject matter they want to get answers for.

This can range all the way from some form of sexual dysfunction or lack of interest or difference in interest, to betrayal in the form of an affair of some kind.

When challenges in the relationship reach a high pitch of dissatisfaction, very often one person will want out when the other very much does not want out.

This is a good time to reach out for professional help. Before making a decision that will impact your entire family, give it a chance to discuss all the options in a neutral setting such as is available in a therapist’s office.

And rest assured, your personal business is kept confidential as per the professional ethics that are held by trained therapists in this field.

Please call me at 425 6521413 with any questions you may have. I am always pleased to be of service.


It’s All Better Now

by SunraySheryl on May 24, 2010

A trend I have noticed in some couples, is that just when things are starting to get better, they feel so positive and enthusiastic that they stop coming in for sessions.

Now that can be a very good thing, if one or two sessions is all it takes to get you back on track. Not everyone who comes in for therapy has an earth shattering matter to solve.

I’m all for getting on with life, and not being a “professional client.”

(Remember people who went to college year after year–trying to figure out what they wanted to be when they grew up–calling themselves “professional students”?)

(And please don’t mistake me for rushing the person who has had serious trauma, that does take the time that it takes, and I honor that.)

Just like the role of parenting, one of a therapist’s goals is, “to work themselves out of a job.”

So that being said, sometimes people sabotage their success by quitting too soon, by not taking the time to get new patterns of relating really reinforced.

Looking forward to doing that deep and meaningful work with you in making your relationship everything you want it to be!


What makes you different from all the others?

by SunraySheryl on November 10, 2009

Last week I had the most delightful impromptu interview with a couple who were looking for the right marriage therapist. Amongst several really smart questions, there was one that has stuck with me the last few days, and I’ve found myself sharpening up my answers!

What makes me different? At first, any modesty I have on the subject would say, not a whole lot. All of my peers in this field care very much about doing a very professional job, all the while being true to themselves, having studied hard in school to get the foundations right and consistently striving to be and do the utmost in carrying out an ethical practice. Yep, all true of me. We go the extra mile, often letting clients go with unpaid balances rather than sending them to collections. We do whatever we can to keep the lines of communication open, even when there are misunderstandings. You won’t find me stuffy or taking myself too seriously. I smile a lot.

Secondly, I have not been in the client chair of many of my peers, so even though I may know them quite well, I may not actually know how they come across from the therapist’s chair!

But I do know myself, and we are trained to use our self in the art of practicing therapy.

And this is what I know about myself! I am highly creative, and extremely curious, very friendly and prone to use humor (where appropriate and with sensitivity, of course). I have mastered the use of both sides of my brain, and while I am highly analytical and a quick study, I use my sensitivity to gauge what I say to the best of my ability. Sometimes I have such sharp insight, a question of mine may come across as “Touche!” which is good if the client can receive it. It’s like having the layers peeled back to reveal the crux of the matter.

As a person in general, I am fairly transparent (I’ve been where many of you are – this leads to humility and compassion, not to mention astute understanding of the dynamics.) I am spontaneous and a life learner. I learn from my clients every day!

So put that high level of creativity together with spontaneity, and you get customized “homework” made up for you and your partner right on the spot. And if you don’t want homework, I am flexible enough to think up something that might appeal to you better. I am more informal than structured, but if you need and want structure, I co-create it with you so it suits your style of learning. I make a lot of use of metaphor to help you understand your spouse better.

Thank you for all I have learned from my clients and potential clients!

Give me a call and see if we’re a fit. I’m looking forward to it!!


What about using my health insurance?

by SunraySheryl on October 30, 2009

Many of my clients ask me about using their health insurance. My standard reply includes the following.

You are more than welcome to use your health insurance. I do not contract directly with any health insurance company, but since I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with the State of Washington, many insurance companies will reimburse their customers when they use my services.

As my client, you will pay me up front, week by week, and I will help you complete the one page HCFA form – otherwise known as the Health Insurance Claim Form. (I have copies you may use.)

In this case, I would be considered an out of network provider. It is then on you, the customer of the health insurance company, to call them and find out what kind of diagnoses they cover with your particular plan, the number of sessions, and at what rate or percentage you will be reimbursed.

Ideally, they will cover relationship counseling, and not only mental health diagnoses. If they do not cover relationship counseling, they will likely cover any official mental health diagnosis such as Major Depression, Anxiety, and possibly Adjustment Disorders. In our first session, we will go over what it entails to have a mental health diagnosis attached to your name.

In many cases, clients are already in the system with Depression, for example, are receiving medication, and have no problem with their name being in the system.

Others are not, and do not wish to be. In such cases, if their insurance does not cover relationship counseling, clients choose to pay out of pocket.

This is the potentially tedious end of paying for your therapy sessions when you use your insurance, and it can take awhile to be completely familiar with how things work. I hope this post has been helpful to you, even though it is on the technical side!

Here’s to your fully satisfying and connecting relationship! Just remember – you’re worth the investment it takes.


We Have Nothing in Common

by SunraySheryl on May 23, 2009

What’s a couple to do when they feel they have fallen out of love, and/or have nothing in common? Is it over for good? Can anything turn things around?

One way I respond to these kinds of questions in therapy is to ask a couple what drew them together in the first place. A couple might then find some ideas to rekindle the spark.

The solution might be found in taking regular walks that make it easier to talk together or just to be together. It might be sitting face to face across a table and looking into each other eyes to talk. It might be working together on a home project or taking a vacation dedicated to focusing on the two of you. As a couple do you work together well, or do you do better engaging in a form of recreation?

If there are deeper issues, and resentment has taken a hold, you may want to consider discussing the matter openly with your partner. If you run into the same old argument and can’t seem to break the pattern, consider seeing a therapist to help you work through the issues and to learn effective ways of communicating.

As always, I remain available for an initial phone consultation to see if we would be a good fit.

Call me at 425 652-1413 or email .


Resiliency in Spite of Discouragement

by SunraySheryl on March 5, 2009

In my counseling practice, I have been honored to work with some very resilient people. Resiliency that becomes evident in the face of great discouragement, stress and even trauma.

Some of these hardships are so over the top that the word “difficulty” scarcely does them justice.

We could brainstorm a list of words that connote challenge or problem, and possibly get ourselves down in the process. But for every “downer” word, there is also a positive, victorious word.

For discouragement, there is encouragement.
For problem, there is solution.
For challenge, there is overcoming or rising to the challenge
For stress, there is de-stress or relaxation.
For trauma or woundedness, there is healing.

Where is your support for discouragement, problems, stress and trauma?
Where is your source of encouragement, solution and healing?

You may have your support system in place with friends and family.
Or you may be getting ready to commit to therapy to find solutions.

If you are ready to consider therapy, call me at 425 652-1413.
I’m here for your healing.


Reasons We Procrastinate (on getting counseling)

by SunraySheryl on March 1, 2009

Why do we procrastinate on getting counseling when we have already decided it is an absolute “must do now or else”? I’m going to throw out a few ideas of my own, and would love to hear your views on this as well.

Sometimes a person is waiting for his or her spouse or partner to come on board. One person is more ready than the other and really wants to go in as a couple.

Another and very common reason is the sheer busy-ness of life. There is always something on the calendar, and it’s hard to squeeze in one more thing.

There are times when the overwhelm of a betrayal keeps one in shock. It seems crazy-making to look at it, and bewildering to know where to turn.

And here’s a good one for the times – there isn’t enough money. When you have just lost your job, how can anyone argue with that?

With all these reasons, if you know what you really want – to get help for your partnership or marriage, and to really work things out – you can’t let anything get in your way. You must go after it.

It is possible to work on your relationship – even if you are the only one to go in for therapy. You can cut one thing from your schedule, and go in for even a one time counseling session. You can reach out for help by calling a therapist, even if your pain is keeping you paralyzed. You can skip one other thing you might have purchased and use that savings for at least one session. Or you can ask about a sliding scale. Many therapists have a few slots open for this.

Don’t let anything come in your way of getting help for you and your partner – you deserve it. When it comes down to it, there is no monetary value you can put on your love relationship.

Call me now for a complimentary phone consultation 425 652-1413.