Theoretical Approach and Therapeutic Style

"I believe all forms of successful counseling require the creation of an atmosphere of safety and trust."

"Most of us enter individual couple therapy with a feeling of powerlessness, vulnerability, confusion, and a deep desire to be understood."

"We possess an understandable tendency to 'blame' our partner when faced with frequent relationship conflicts, confusion and strong negative emotions. Couple therapy presents unique and specific challenges for the therapy participants and treatment provider. Studies indicate that certain therapists behaviors positively influence the outcome of the couple therapy and are associated with lower early treatment drop-out rates. An effective couple therapist must have the ability to build a therapeutic alliance with both people in the relationship, as well as maintain clear control of the sessions. The therapist must be aware of the risk of alienating one member of the couple and constantly work against the pull to 'take a side' of one person against the other."

"I strive to make therapy 'fair' as well as 'safe' for both members in the relationship. I believe my task is to support, challenge, and elicit more adaptive interactions between distressed couples. This means I work to be proactive, direct, and maintain the therapy focus on the concerns that are at the core of the relationship conflict. I actively engage the couple and no not avoid bringin up the difficult issues in order to identify the existing patterns of problematic communication and offer a clear therapeutic direction with alternative choices designed to allow the couple a new experience. When a discouraged couple is sufficiently supported in therapy and motivated to 'shift the focus' in order to view their problems and goals in 'relational terms', they are well on their way to accessing their strengths, optimism, playfulness, and humor."

Individual Psychotherapy

Dr. Jackson's theoretical orientation has been greatly influenced by the "integrationist" psychology theory. She uses eclectic treatment approaches and interventions based on psychodynamic formulations and interpretation, client centered, cognitive, behavioral, and acceptance commitment treatment models for psychotherapy. Throughout treatment, she assesses symptom severity, progress, and may consider the appropriateness of a referral for pharmacological or adjunctive therapy.

Couple Family Therapy

Her conjoint therapy approach is based on developmental-systems theory and more resent training in "interpersonal neurobiology"  has influenced her work. She regularly attends continuing educational training seminars with many of the national couple therapy experts and intensive couple treatment conferences sponsored by Harvard Medical School Continuing Education Department. Emotionally focused, behavioral and cognitive  couple therapy has been supported by the research evidence for effectiveness. Her couple therapy assessment and treatment integrates behavioral communication skill development, with interpersonal and intra-psychic phenomena. Her goal is to evaluate how the couple communicates, determine patterns of reactive interpersonal cycles and explore the original family dynamics that may influence defensive behaviors and interfere with successful conflict resolution. Her style is highly directive and may include couple "homework assignments". She has been described as striking a thoughtful balance of intense emotion and humor to create a productive focus and relieve tensions in her therapy sessions.

Some severe individual problems may require a referral for a concurrent individual treatment for one or both members of the couple, such as; suicidal behavior, active infidelity, impulse control problems that result in episodes of domestic violence, substance abuse, spending or sexual addictions.

© 2020 by Dr. Debra Jackson