Couples, Polycules, & Blended Family Therapy
At Anchor Psychotherapy, Inc., we understand that relationships come in all shapes and sizes. As a result, we strive to create a safe, affirming, and supportive space for our clients. We are comfortable walking alongside clients amid complicated, high-conflict situations, and work with our clients to have everyone in the therapy room feel seen, cared for, supported, and validated.
Our practice offers sex-positive, culturally attuned, and affirming counseling services for couples, polycules, and relationship structures that are typically underserved and often stigmatized.
Emotion-Focused & Attachment-Centered Lens
A primary goal for each of our therapists when working with partnerships, is to develop more secure and resilient emotional bonds with each other. Additionally, we want to focus on emotions as the primary drivers of behavior and communication in relationships. Therefore, we spend time in therapy learning to identify and express feelings, understand triggers and patterns, and learn how to regulate emotions within the context of their relationship.
Our therapists bring a strong attachment theory lens into the room, helping clients reflect on their bonds with caregivers and molded attachment styles. We consider how these styles influence the current relationship function and dynamics and collaborate on strategies for tending to chasms in connection.
The Impact of Trauma and Complex PTSD (C-PTSD) on Relationships
Trauma, whether “capital T” or “lowercase t,” can profoundly impact relationships. It can often leave individuals struggling to connect with their partners and build healthy, secure attachments. Traumatic experiences can alter the functioning of the nervous system. Additionally, it causes individuals to feel hyper-vigilant, reactive, and with varying degrees of anxiousness and avoidance in the face of intimacy and connection. For those who have experienced complex trauma, such as C-PTSD, the impact on attachment can be even more profound. This can lead to difficulty trusting others and forming healthy relationships.
The Connection Between Trauma and Relationships
At Anchor Psychotherapy, we understand the unique challenges that trauma survivors face in their relationships. We work to provide a shame-free and trauma-informed space, integrating somatic, behavioral, and relational strategies.
We also understand that exploring ethical non-monogamy (ENM) can often expose otherwise dormant attachment and trauma responses that clients did not experience in their formerly closed, monogamous structures. As a result, some clients may be caught off guard when they open their relationships for the first time. In addition, they may experience severe nervous system dysregulation and intense emotional responses. Others may struggle to support a partner sharing a trauma response in the context of ENM. Finally, issues around jealousy and insecure attachment often come to the surface rapidly for partners in an ENM framework. We work with our clients to process this and other interwoven emotional experiences in a non-judgemental, compassionate, and empathetic manner.
What Can We Work On in Therapy as a Couple or Polycule?
Tailoring & Enhancing Communication
Effective and compassionate communication is critically important in any relationship. However, the challenge often increases exponentially the more individuals in a system. Throughout the therapy process, we work with clients to identify patterns of interaction causing distress. We then help them develop new, healthier ways of communicating and relating to one another.
Additionally, we also work in a culturally sensitive and competent manner, acknowledging the nuances of our ethnic and cultural backgrounds in communication. We take time to fully understand each couple’s unique cultural background, external influences, negative beliefs about the self, and communication challenges. All this is done while working to create a safe and respectful environment that honors their cultural values and beliefs.
Making Implicit Needs and Boundaries Explicit
ENM and traditional two-partner relationships require the mutual setting and respect of boundaries. As a result, our therapists provide a safe and inclusive space for our clients to reflect and explore their individual needs. It can be easy to forget our partners grew up in different homes and with different life experiences than us. Your partner(s) have inherited unique methods of communication, love languages, and attachment wounds may vary. Further, emotional blueprints may not always overlap. And internalized beliefs around what are “normal” or “healthy” boundaries can differ greatly among individuals.
We Understand that Each Relationship Has Distinct Needs
At Anchor Psychotherapy, we do not tell our clients what is “normal” or “healthy.” Instead, we work with partnerships to map out differences, similarities, and strengths, identify effective communication methods, and create collaborative, re-authored agreements around boundaries, intimacy, emotional connection, and time. Additionally, there is often a need to work on radical acceptance, empathy, and compromise when a relationship may have chronic or perpetual challenges.
Our clinicians work with individuals and couples exploring ethical non-monogamy (ENM), polyamory, and various open relationships. We recognize that these relationship styles are often stigmatized, underserved, and misunderstood. Therefore, we are committed to providing a judgment-free, supportive environment for all relationships and to tend to their unique relationships and challenges.
We Work With You at Any Stage of Your Journey
Whether a couple is in the early phases of considering opening their relationship or already engaged in ENM, we work narratively, discussing internalized beliefs, structures, and values that they have often internalized from their families, communities, and society. We offer a safe and inclusive space for clients to examine the stories that have developed over time about their relationships, and make room for them to reauthor those stories in an empowering and intentional way. Clients often collaborate with their loved ones and choose new values, models, and structures for moving forward.
A Strength-Focused Approach
We adopt a strength-focused approach to ENM at Anchor Psychotherapy, Inc. While the societal archetype around ENM has shifted substantially over the past decade, stigma and misinformation still run rampant in our homes and our communities. It is common to hear clients describe the barrage of focus on the challenges and pitfalls of ENM, many of which overlap with challenges found in monogamous frameworks, while often losing sight of they ways in which their individual relationships may enrich their lives. Our therapists invite and engage clients in reflecting upon the unique strengths of their chosen relationship framework. These strengths may include the increased capacity for love and intimacy, more diverse support systems, heightened honesty and communication, freedom and autonomy, and less pressure on one partner to meet all our needs.
Infidelity can be deeply painful and complex for individuals, couples, and polycules. At our practice, we understand that many factors may contribute to infidelity, and we are committed to helping both partners navigate the aftermath with compassion and understanding. Drawing on the work of renowned therapist Esther Perel, we recognize that infidelity can often represent a desire for “something more,” authorship, a yearning for connection, novelty, and passion that may be missing in the primary relationship. While infidelity can cause significant pain and damage, it can also serve as a wake-up call for both partners to engage in radical reassessment.
We work with couples to explore the underlying issues that may have contributed to the infidelity. Then, we help them find ways to rebuild trust, heal from the pain of betrayal, and create a stronger, more fulfilling relationship. Whether you are the one who has been betrayed or the one who has strayed, we are here to support you with compassion, empathy, and non-judgmental guidance.
The Impact of Neurodiversity on Relationships
Neurodiverse couples, including but not limited to, individuals with varying neurological differences such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), ADHD, or anxiety disorders, may experience unique challenges in their relationships, communication patterns, and the therapy process. Our clinicians understand and appreciate the nuances of neurodiversity, and how they may impact an individual’s close relationships. For example, there may additional challenges to understanding each other and reading each other’s cues, which can increase misunderstanding and conflict in a relationship. Neurodiverse couples may struggle with emotional regulation and attunement, which can lead to intense emotional reactions and difficulty in feeling safe to express a range of emotions. When one person in the partnership is neurotypical, several practical challenges related to contrast in needs may emerge. For example, couples may notice increased conflict around sensory stimuli, environmental conditions, routines, social engagement, flexibility, and spontaneity.
To help neurodiverse couples overcome these challenges, we work with clients to increase understanding, insight, perspective taking, and empathy, all of which help to foster open communication, attunement and emotional regulation, and develop effective strategies for healthy negotiation.
Sex Positive and Identity-Affirming Care
Sex is an integral part of many relationships, and we offer sex-positive counseling services to support clients in exploring their sexuality in a healthy and fulfilling way. Our therapists are experienced in working with individuals and couples dealing with various sexual issues, including desire discrepancy, sexual trauma, and kink, including the nuances of power play and BDSM.
You Have the Right to Explore Without Fear of Judgment of Shame
We also understand that discussing sex and sexuality can be sensitive and sometimes uncomfortable for many individuals and therapists. At our practice, we believe that individuals have the right to explore their sexuality and relationships without fear of judgment or shame. Our therapists are trained to work with clients from a non-judgmental and sex-positive perspective. We understand that sexuality is an essential aspect of an individual’s identity. We aim to empower our clients to explore their sexual desires and experiences in a safe and supportive environment.
Creating a Safe Space for Clients
We aim to create a relaxed, relatable, and safe space for clients to discuss sensitive issues related to sex, relationships, and intimacy. Additionally, we understand that each individual’s experiences and concerns are unique, and we approach every session with empathy, compassion, and respect.
Our practice is committed to serving traditionally underserved communities through therapists, including people of color, sex workers, LGBTQIA+ individuals, and those with different ability levels.
BDSM & Kink-Affirming Care
At Anchor Psychotherapy, Inc., we provide kink and BDSM-affirming therapy that values and respects the diverse ways people express their sexuality. Our therapists are dedicated to creating a safe and non-judgmental environment for individuals and partnerships to explore their desires, interests, and identities. We believe that healthy sexual expression, including kink and BDSM, is an important aspect of overall well-being and we strive to empower our clients to embrace their authentic selves.
We Provide Therapists With a Deep Understanding of the Kink/BDSM Spectrum
Our therapists understand the nuances and complexities of relationships within the kink/ BDSM spectrum, along with the ways that dominant narratives around sexuality, relationships, and families impact people’s wellbeing and functioning. We work collaboratively with clients from a post-modern lens, to unpack internalized shame, bias, and narratives and dynamics around their sexuality and sexual expression. Whether you are seeking support in exploring your kink and BDSM identity, improving communication within your partnerships, or addressing issues related to kink and their mental health intersections, our therapists are here to help.
A Holistic, Whole Body Approach to Therapy
At Anchor Psychotherapy, Inc., we approach therapy from a holistic perspective, recognizing that our clients’ emotional and relational lives are interconnected with other parts of their lives as well. We draw on evidence-based techniques and interventions, including attachment theory and emotion-focused therapy, to help our clients develop more secure and resilient emotional bonds with each other. We also create room for skills-focused intervention and psychoeducation around safety, consent, and power so that they leave sessions equipped with more tools to navigate the kink/ BDSM scenes with their physical and emotional safety in focus. Our goal is to support our clients in building meaningful, safe, fulfilling relationships that honor their unique identities and desires, including those related to kink, BDSM, and sexual power dynamics.
How to Begin Therapy for Couples and Polycules in Los Angeles, CA
If your partner(s) and you are struggling or exploring, Anchor Psychotherapy, Inc. is here to help. We offer a wide variety of services related to therapy for couples, polycules, blended families, and more. Follow the steps below to get started on your journey to healing.
- Get to know more about our therapy practice here.
- Fill out our easy and convenient online contact form.
- Begin your journey toward healing.
Other Mental Health Services Offered at Anchor Psychotherapy, Inc. in Los Angeles
In addition to therapy for couples and polycules, we offer a wide variety of mental health services to help you at any stage of your mental health journey. This includes trauma and EMDR, individual therapy, child and family services including high conflict divorce and court-involved families, LGBTQ+ services, and group therapy.