Couple’s Counseling

As a stand-alone service or as an adjunct to individual psychotherapy, California Women’s Therapy provides expert support and guidance to couples when they need it most.

Our team of psychologists is currently accepting new clients for virtual couple’s counseling.

We have four licensed psychologists on our team providing couple’s counseling from a variety of approaches:

Dr. Laura Ruaro is currently accepting new clients & couples

Dr. Mariella Lauriola is not accepting new couples at this time
Dr. Nina Nguyen is not accepting new clients or couples at this time
Dr. Susan Swartz is not accepting new clients or couples at this time

Dr. Theresa Cao is currently accepting new clients & couples

You can learn more about each of these providers by visiting their provider pages as well as reading about their unique approaches to couple’s counseling below.

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Dr. Laura Ruaro
Licensed Clinical Psychologist Bilingual in English & Italian

Dr. Laura’s Approach to Couple’s Counseling

I work with couples from the psychoanalytic perspective, looking at how each partner’s deep wounds can be healed within the context of the relationship.  I help couples communicate authentically, so that their intimacy deepens. In my work with inter-racial and inter-cultural couples, I help them to better understand their respective identities. I also help couples prepare for and manage the transition to parenthood. For couples further into the parenting journey, I help parents become more aware of how their respective histories can impact their parenting styles. 

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Dr. Mariella Lauriola
Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Dr. Mariella’s Approach to Couple’s Counseling

My approach in working with couples is mainly influenced by Dr. Sue Johnson’s Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), a short-term (8 to 20 sessions) structured form of therapy developed in the 1980’s in tandem with the science of adult attachment/bonding. Nowadays, a substantial body of research exists to support the effectiveness of EFT. In this therapeutic approach, the therapist helps the couple identify their unhealthy patterns or “dances” to then create new, healthier dances. EFT allows couples to feel emotionally connected, as well as more loved and secure in their relationship. To learn more about EFT, visit the ICEEFT website following this link. My approach in couples therapy is trauma informedexperiential and active (I engage my clients with weekly exercises in between sessions to consolidate the new knowledge gained). We are going to concentrate on the present issues and negative patterns that are affecting you right now, and you are going to feel like you will have an overall better understanding of your way of relating, as well as having new tools you can use to improve your relationship.

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Dr. Nina Nguyen
Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Dr. Nguyen’s Approach to Couple’s Counseling

I provide a differentiation based approach to couple’s therapy. This focuses on being more authentic with oneself as well as with one’s partner, without trying to change the other person. This is very simply stated, yet is more enlivening when put into action. Oftentimes when people are in relationships, their true selves comes into conflict with their reflected sense of self (how they wish to be seen by their partner). Anxiety can result from a person’s struggle to balance these two states of being — leading individuals to compromise who they are for the sake of their partner. I work with couples to facilitate each person’s authenticity in the presence of their partner so that each can be seen more accurately. The truer you are to yourself, the more intimate you can be with your partner.

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Dr. Susan Swartz
Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Dr. Susan’s Approach to Couple’s Counseling

I have completed all levels of trainings of the Gottman Method for couple’s counseling, including Level 3 with Drs. John and Julie Gottman in Seattle, WA. I love how the Gottman’s approach couple’s counseling because it’s very much about meaning and how each person is just trying to get their needs met.  It is a supportive and gentle approach to couple’s counseling.  This is not to say it’s not clear and directive–it’s those things, too, but it just has a lot of compassion. The idea is that we’re all doing the best we can — and sometimes we just didn’t learn the right way.  There is a focus on meeting people where they’re at and helping them acquire the skills they need.

Though I use the Gottman Method as my base, I also bring to my couple’s work a focus on addiction, past trauma, and codependence.   What I bring to the table is a desire to deeply understand each person individually — as well as the lifespan of the relationship itself — and from that base to begin to work on how to make the couple’s life happier and more fulfilling for both partners. 

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Dr. Theresa Cao
Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Dr. Theresa Cao’s Approach to Couple’s Counseling

My couples’ work stems from an attachment-based perspective, which focuses on how early attachment styles can impact the relational connections and relational qualities established later in life. My work is also influenced by Dr. John Gottman’s research on marital relationships, which focuses on how specific types of communication patterns impact the satisfaction and success of relationships.

I believe at the root of problematic communication lies deeper-rooted issues, such as a fear of being misunderstood or unseen, perceived rejection and disvaluation from a partner, and internalized shame and doubt about oneself in the relationship.  Overall, challenges with our own individual ways of feeling, thinking, and responding can create conflict when we attempt to co-create and co-regulate our relationships.

As humans, we are relational beings that seek authentic connection with our significant others; the ultimate goal is to experience a sense of happiness and fulfillment in this area of our lives. Couples often enter therapy with a common desire of bettering their relationship and getting unstuck by seeking external support to navigate this process. My primary goal is to help each couple obtain a sense of mutual fulfillment in the relationship, while improving themselves individually along the way.  

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So you can learn more about our services and make sure we’re a great fit, we offer free consultations over the phone or via live video chat.

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Contact us to schedule your initial consultation.

Begin your journey today 🌱