Dr. Steiner's Tools for Change


Working with one's partner in therapy can deepen intimacy, create greater understanding of one another and teach tools for having a more meaningful relationship. Couples therapy is an opportunity to look at what is getting in the way of having the loving feelings that are sometimes lost or put aside. Therapy can include guiding couples to agree on ways to keep the richness of the connection they enjoyed early in the relationship, or helping them decide whether and how to remain connected. Sometimes couples decide to part ways, and we work on doing this with as much respect as possible. In those situations it is important to Increasing collaboration, while minimizing the amount of misunderstandings, hurt and anger, so common in separations.

Couple's therapy can also help you understand the family roles that you grew up with and how those roles and expectations get played out in your current relationships. Often we carry those old roles into new relationships, which can interfere with having the kind of connection and mutual support that you want with your partner.

If you think that couple's therapy could enrich your relationship, please feel free to call me at (925) 962-0060.


Couples therapy works best when there is a good match between the therapist and the clients. I help couples clarify what they want out of therapy as individuals as well as partners. Throughout our work together, I encourage clients to let me know what is and isn't working in therapy.

Although I draw from a variety of theoretical techniques, my primary approach is psychodynamic combined with control mastery theory. These focus on each individuals' strengths and desires to change old patterns that no longer work. It is important to understand the major influences in one's life and to focus on how personal history and past relationships affect current life and choices.

Another therapy orientation I use is systems theory. This approach looks at each individual within the context of his/her history, culture, support systems and values.


Virginia Satir, widely regarded as the mother of family therapy, wrote this verse to describe what a healthy loving relationship can look and feel like:

"I want to join you without invading.
Appreciate you without being judgmental,
Love you without clutching,
Love you without demanding,
Leave you without guilt,
Criticize you without blaming,
And help you without insulting,
If I can have the same from you,
Then we can truly meet and enrich each other."
— Virginia Satir

This Goethe quote reminds me of other ways of thinking about balance and reciprocity in relationships:


"No matter how close two people may be, there will always be infinite differences. And a wonderful growing up side-by-side can occur. If they learn to love those differences, so that each can see the other whole against the sky. A good marriage is where each is the protector of the other's solitude."

— Goethe

Virginia Satir and Goethe quotes are used with the permission of Virginia Satir's publisher, Bob Spitzer, Science and Behavior Books, Inc. personal communication, 2008. These quotes are taken from I'd Give My Life! A Journey by Folk Music, Eric Darling, page 279, Science and Behavior Books, Inc. 2008.
Photo by permission of Jackie Link © 2008 www.jackielink.net

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© Ann Steiner, Ph.D. All rights reserved. Reproduction without the author's written consent is prohibited.

Last Updated: April 20, 2023