Strengthening Your Relationship: Finding the Ideal Counselor For Couples in Houston

Are you having communication issues within your current relationship? Do you feel like you and your partner are constantly on different pages and it is causing friction within the partnership? Are you struggling to make a decision about the future of your relationship? If you have answered yes to any of the above questions, then couples counseling may be the next step for you and your partner! Couples counseling in Houston is the bravest and most loving way to grow not only as a unit, but as individuals as well. In today’s society, the term “couples counseling” has a negative bias, as most individuals see the entrance into couples counseling as synonymous with “trouble in paradise.” However, couples counseling can strengthen relationships at any status, whether in distress or not. Maybe there haven’t been any significant issues within your relationship, but you feel like your connection isn’t as strong as it once was? Couples counseling can help you find the spark that seemingly has dimmed as time has passed. At Malaty Therapy, we value our couples and our mission is to help foster adaptability, explore the varying styles of communication within a partnership, align in shared goals, and ultimately, help you find joy in your relationship again. At Malaty Therapy, dedicated licensed professional counselor Amy Coldwell specialize in couples counseling in Houston and is here to help you in all of your relationship needs. Amy understands the unique challenges that come from each relationship. Amy not only possess the clinical skills and training experience necessary for treating couples, but she also possess a great passion for helping couples reach their full potential, unite in a mutual and healthy fashion, and help empower the individuals within a partnership in ways that strengthen the unit as a whole. In today’s blog, we aim to guide Houston couples in finding the right counselor for their relationship needs as well as exploring what couples counseling in Houston looks like and how it can benefit and strengthen your relationship.

Understanding the Dynamics of Couples Counseling In Houston

Couples counseling is a unique method of therapeutic treatment that includes joint sessions with both partners within a relationship in addition to the counselor. In couples counseling, the counselor acts as a collaborative guide and facilitator to drive constructive conversations between partners within a relationship with the ultimate goal of helping couples improve their relationship, resolve conflicts, and enhance communication and intimacy. The biggest issues that seem to arise amongst couples in today’s society include communication differences/dysfunctions, decreased connection, differences relating to situational occurrences, and simply being on different pages regarding their relationship. While the idea of “couples counseling” seems to carry the stigma of “there’s a problem”, couples counseling can be extremely beneficial in any stage of any relationship. One of the most sought-after benefits of couples counseling includes overall individual wellbeing. A partnership’s sense of spiritual, mental, emotional, physical, social and overall wellbeing is reflective of each individual’s facets of wellbeing. While the couples counseling process is conducted with couples together, in these sessions, individuals are encouraged to discover the issues they are having within their own individual lives and sense of selves. If facilitated correctly, this can turn into extreme, individual growth in a supportive environment. Additionally, couples counseling can help prevent or further relationship deterioration by addressing issues and conflicts early on instead of later when these issues and conflicts have developed into bigger ones. While early intervention is important in every instance of counseling in general, it is especially important in couples counseling. With couples counseling, as previously stated, there is no “wrong” time to start! At Malaty Therapy, our couples therapist Amy Coldwell, works with couples at every stage of their relationship and have helped guide couples through every array of issues. From disagreements with parenting and general disconnection to bigger issues like infidelity and financial conflicts, Amy Coldwell uses varying treatment modalities to help couples improve communication, foster individual growth and resilience, resolve conflicts through an objective lens, and help guide individuals to find alignment within their views of their relationship as a whole.

Signs Your Relationship Might Benefit from Couples Counseling

If you are wondering whether or not you and your partner should start couples counseling, there are a couple of signs that might help you make your decision. Communication breakdown is a key sign that couples counseling in Houston might be a great next step for you and your partner. Communication breakdown can look like frequent arguments, passive-aggressive behavior, and difficulty expressing emotions or resolving conflict. Research published in the Journal of Family Psychology highlights communication difficulties as a key predictor of relationship dissatisfaction and distress. Some additional signs that couples counseling might be the best intervention for you and your partner are loss of trust or intimacy, recurring conflicts amongst the partnership, and general emotional distress. These signs can be direct results of some of the most common relationship struggles faced by couples in Houston, including a poor work-life balance, cultural differences, financial stress, difficulty with navigating life’s transitions and health issues that an individual within the partnership may be experiencing. Regardless of which signs you may be witnessing within your own partnership, intervening early is the key to increasing your likelihood of a positive outcome from couples counseling in Houston. When approaching relational issues with early intervention, you may help prevent further escalation of relational issues, enhance your communication skills as a unit and as individuals, increase your level of validation and support, introduce tailored interventions that you and your partner may not have tried yet, and strengthen your partnership in general. Seeking counseling services from licensed clinicians such as the staff at Malaty Therapy, can provide couples with the tools, insights, and support they need to overcome challenges, enhance communication, and build a stronger and more fulfilling partnership. Professional counselors allow an objective perspective that can be beneficial within a partnership. Regardless of what your adversities may be within your current relationship, it is hard for you and your partner to come to a mutual understanding over certain things. This is where the objectivity of the professional counselor comes into play.

Experts Therapists at Malaty Therapy in Houston

At Malaty Therapy, our team of licensed clinicians operate under the same mission: to give you the tools that you need for success all within a safe, secure, and non-judgmental environment. Malaty Therapy is composed of professionally licensed clinicians who continuously engage in new workshops and continuing education courses to broaden and strengthen their skills and expertise. At Malaty Therapy, we work with individuals, families and couples at all stages of their individual mental health journeys. At Malaty Therapy, our clinicians will meet you exactly where you are at and expect nothing from you upon your first session. It is our duty to provide you a confidential and safe space in which you can process difficult feelings and experiences all under the collaborative guidance of one of our clinicians. Our practice is made up of a panel of clinicians that varies in gender, age, cultural background and areas of expertise. Our diverse staff allows us to custom match you to a therapist that will best fit your needs. Amy Coldwell and Donald Bradley are two of our clinicians that specialize in couples counseling. Amy is trauma-informed, licensed professional counselors (LPC’s) and find a great passion for helping couples grow through the therapeutic journey. While Amy and Donald practice with varying approaches, they both align in the mutual desire to help you regain empowerment within your own individual self and within your partnership. Amy and Donald both recognize that beginning couples counseling can be an unnerving, new step into the unknown. However, they both approach professional counseling with a warm demeanor and prioritize the sacred space that the therapeutic setting should be. When working with couples, Amy and Donald are just as invested in you as a unit as they are regarding both you and your partner as individuals.

Houston’s Couples Counseling Expert Amy Coldwell

Amy Coldwell goals when working with counseling and have many alignments in the way they approach the practice of professional counseling. Amy takes a collaborative approach that helps you weave together your unique strengths, culture, spirituality, relationships, and experiences. Additionally, Amy has extensive training in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), which has carved out a trauma-informed lens for working with clients and couples of all ages. Amy provides counseling services to adolescents, adults, individuals with a special emphasis on couples and families. As a clinician, Amy’s specialty areas include Trauma & PTSD, history of abuse, women’s issues, couples counseling, relational issues, parenting & family issues, life transitions, adoption work, attachment issues, anxiety, grief, and depression. During her couples counseling sessions, Amy’s goal is to collaboratively work with you so that you can work to overcome limiting self-beliefs that lead to cycles of relational dysfunction and emotional distress and re-establish a sense of safety in your own mind. Whether you are struggling with past traumas, relational issues, or internal struggles, this is a place dedicated to self-discovery, healing, validation, and acceptance.

Considerations To Make Before Counseling

When choosing a counselor, couples should, of course, select a counselor, like Donald or Amy, that specializes in couples counseling. Couples should also decide on what their preferences look like in a counselor. Whether you have a preferred gender, age range, or method of treatment modality, counseling should be a space in which you feel most comfortable. At Malaty Therapy, we pride ourselves in our diverse staff that can meet all of your preferences and comfort zones with couples counseling. The therapeutic relationship is the most vital part in achieving a positive outcome from the counseling process. The therapeutic alliance should be a confidential, safe, non-judgmental and collaborative relationship that challenges you, validates you, and empowers you. It may take a few sessions to establish a therapeutic alliance with your counselor, but we encourage you to trust your gut when it comes to that first meeting. If you feel that you do not share similar communication styles with your therapist, it’s perfectly okay to get matched with a new one that better fits your needs.

Meet With Malaty Therapy’s Top Houston Therapists

If you are struggling in your relationship, take the first step towards healing today! Contact a therapist at Malaty Therapist specializing in couples counseling in Houston. Start your journey towards a stronger, and happier partnership.

Malaty Therapy: The Best Houston Therapists
Address: 11211 Katy Freeway Suite 300 Houston, TX 77079
Phone: (713) 628-3966

We invite you to take the first step towards holistic well-being by connecting with us. Together, we can grow, resilience, and positive transformation.

Relationship Therapy Lessons From A Couple’s Counselor

We don’t need experts to tell us that post-COVID-19 reality will see a rise in both birth and divorce rates. While some relationships may blossom as a result of this ‘time out,” many will find it difficult and may feel trapped. Relationship therapy from experts at Malaty Therapy in Houston, Texas can offer licensed guidance.  As a Houston couple’s therapist, I am anticipating an even greater need for relationship therapy help from my clients due to the stresses of COVID-19. But for the time being, I’d like to offer some relationship therapy tips and advice to help you and your partner understand each other, and better communicate. 

Are You Feeling Trapped and Overwhelmed? 

Desire to flee the scene may be high during these times. Your home has turned into a mission control center and overlapping roles keep multiplying. Some of you may feel that chronic tension and disconnect between you and partner has only amplified. You are feeling trapped. Forget about sex. Not much emotional space is left to process the tragedy of it all, either. 

Appreciating The Pause and Connecting 

Maybe, you are someone on the opposite side of this reality, appreciating the pause, using the time for self-reflection and what a pleasant surprise – you found a human next to you on a couch. Turns out it is your partner! 

Intimacy Can Be Frightening 

Well, what do you do with each other in this vastness of time? Have you ever experimented sitting in silence for 5 minutes, looking at each other without any distractions, and realized you were close to having a panic attack? Yep, intimacy can be frightening. 

Wherever You are in the Adaptation Process to COVID-19 as a Couple, Here are Some Reminders and Tips to Consider: 

Relationship Triage Starts with Taking Vitals. 

I invite you to check in with yourself before reading further. What’s the speed that you are going with right now? Are you scrolling to get to the point? When was the last time you paid attention to your breathing? What’s going on in your body? Any tension? If you had to take a guess, what’s your pulse rate right now? When was the last time you checked in with yourself? 

If you were really honest with yourself, who do you track the most, yourself or your partner? Chances are that your most active internal monitor is turned on your partner. When we feel hijacked by irritation, anxiety or chronic upset, our knee jerk reaction is to find a scapegoat. And now s/he is in your face, 24/7! 

Let’s Remind Ourselves of Some Basics from Decades of Research on Relationship and Neurobehavioral Science. 

Reminder 1: Different not wrong. 

Implicit and explicit judgment is a silent killer of relationships.

Over 60% of marital and relationship upsets arise from conflicting values, priorities, beliefs, and personal tendencies for which there is no standard. 

If you think of yourself as more mature, caring, logical, stable, more [fill the blank] – you are on the high horse of contempt. No matter how strategic you are in hiding it, non-verbals will send the message to your partner loud and clear (they comprise 60% of our communication). Your partner, in turn, might start feeling inadequate, defensive, dismissive and will feel more distant or worse of all, vengeful. 

Admitting that you are part of the relationship problem is probably the hardest and most pivotal milestone in couples therapy. This life changing transformation moves the relationship out of the ER into the ICU and back home. 

Bottom line, people develop different styles of coping with stress. It’s essential to remember that one is not better than the other. Here are some examples: 

Independence First (I.F) vs. Togetherness First (T.F)

During stress, Independence First people don’t just want personal space they need it, otherwise they lose their emotional stability. I.F people prefer relationships where each assumes responsibility for self and prefer to rely on direct requests. They might blame T.F people for being selfishly needy. On the other hand, T.F want relationships in which each assumes responsibility for knowing and anticipating the needs of others. They think that mutual dependency is healthy, and see I.F people as selfishly self-absorbed

Invest in the Future (I.F) vs. Live for the Moment First (L.M.F)

I.F people delay enjoyment until they fulfill responsibilities, sacrificing the present for an anxiety free future. L.M people combine work and play, prioritize enjoyment, fear that life will pass them by while they prioritize routine. 

Predictability First (P.F) vs Spontaneity First (S.F)

P.F people need to minimize chaos, organize lives in predictable ways. Their dreams are around safety, protection. They might criticize S.F people’s way of living as irresponsible/inefficient. S.F thrive on the unexpected, dream of co-adventurers, are open exploration of life, and fear that life will become routine. 

Slow to Upset (S.U) vs Readily Upset (R.U)

R.U people experience upset feelings frequently, intensely and use them as agents of change. They value justice and quality over peace/harmony. They tend to criticize S.U people for covering up true feelings and being afraid of emotions. 

S.U people have mechanisms that diffuse upset quickly and value harmony and tolerance. They “don’t sweat the small stuff.” They fear if they become upset there would be no end to it. S.U people criticize R.U for being like children with tantrums, see them as negative people for whom nothing is good enough. 

Problem Solving First (P.S.F) vs Understanding First (U.F)

P.S.F people (usually also Slow to Upset people) don’t look for sympathy and validation but need concrete ways of action to stabilize. For U.F people understanding and validation comes first, plan for action next. They tend to fear that without understanding and validation from their partner life would feel lonely. 

Which are you in each of these? Ask your partner which person they feel they are. 

Reminder 2: Be flexible in changing leads. 

Forgo the myth of reciprocity. Research shows it’s a recipe for disaster. Assume your partner has your best interest, because s/he thinks you do too. 

Scale your anxiety, depression and energy level throughout a day. Ask yourself: “How grounded and present do I feel towards myself, to my partner and kids.” If you are feeling low, share with each other and come up with a plan for the day. Who picks up on what? What are you committed to doing today? If the day is not going as you hoped, check in with your partner, be transparent, renegotiate and modify the agreement. What are your non-negotiables and what are flexible areas where you can meet halfway? If both are low in energy, co-create your “let’s cut us some major slack” day. 

Reminder 3: Ground rules for conflict. 

Practice stepping back during heated moments when you are feeling flooded. Learn your emotional and physiological response pallet. Reassure your partner that you will return and will give your full attention to hear your partner’s reality/perspective and what’s at stake for her/him, even if you know you are about to slam the door. 

For more insights on fair fighting check out this worksheet. 

Reminder 4: Practice self-soothing.

Husband Practicing Self Care By Stretching During COVID19 as Suggested in Relationship Therapy

Have a safety plan when you feel you are about to lose it. 

Your Self-Soothing Safety Plan Might Include: 

  • Taking your fight/flight adrenaline out for a run or work out 
  • Calling a friend 
  • Breathing practice with focus on prolonging your exhales (for faster relaxation) 
  • Listening to music 
  • Taking a bath 
  • Mindfulness practice by engaging 5 senses (tuning in on sounds, things you see, smell, touch and taste) 
  • Yoga 
  • Writing it out 
  • Exploring apps for meditation and mindfulness 

Don’t Dismiss Important Sensations By Self-Medicating

If you notice the urge to self-medicate (with alcohol, nicotine, porn, comfort food, social media, etc) or with rage and aggression, these might be warning signs that some parts of you want to dismiss your body’s important sensations. 

Give yourself permission to feel the full range of emotions. Breathe through discomfort. It is temporary. The fear that these sensations and emotions will overwhelm your system and stay forever if you let them may pound in your head. Invite them, acknowledge, listen, try to understand what their job and fears are, validate, thank them. You’ll see that they step back, like difficult people do when we validate them. 

Reminder 5: Make effective repair. 

If you did lose it and said things you regret, acknowledge that your reaction was not warranted. Express genuine understanding about how your reaction might have impacted your partner. Share what you’ve learned about your triggers. Only talk about your reactions. Don’t feel obliged to agree with their perspective either. You can still disagree, but state that you wish you could have expressed it differently. 

Schedule time to re-create a better version of the same conversation. To get an understanding, give understanding. Ask open ended questions to genuinely understand what’s at stake for them. Validation is the most powerful elixir for any relationship repair, but probably the hardest to learn and embody in your way of relating. Practice meeting them half-way. Again, what are non-negotiables and flexible areas for creating a win-win agreement?

Use This Time To Deepen Your Bond 

Happy Couple Deepening Their Bond By Communicating as Suggested in Relationship Therapy

Intimate relationships hold an infinite opportunity for mastering our emotional intelligence if we stay open to explore our blind spots and continuously generate curiosity about each other. During this time of standstill, I hope you make it a point not only to make your fights fair but also carve out moments to slow down and deepen your bonds. More thoughts on how to look into your blind spots and strengthen your connection to come in Couple’s COVID-19 Triage Part 2 and 3. 

Book recommendations for couples: 

You Are The One You’ve Been Waiting For. Bringing courageous love to intimate relationships 

(Internal Family Systems) by Richard Schwartz. 

Eight Dates: Essential Conversations For a Life Time of Love by John Gottman and Julie Schwartz Gottman. 


Emotional Intelligence in Couples Therapy, Advances from Neurobiology and the Science of Intimate Relationships,” Brent J. Atkinson. 

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Workby John Gottman and Nan Silver. 

During these times of trouble, you don’t need to struggle alone. Malaty Therapy can help you get through the challenges in your life, brought on by COVID19. If you’re worried, anxious, stressed, we’re here for you! Call us now at (713) 628-3966 to set up a phone, video therapy session today!

Blog Written By: Christina Levin, LMFT-Associate