Couples Services

“To love ourselves and support each other in the process of becoming real is perhaps the greatest single act of daring greatly.”

~Brenѐ Brown

Couples Therapy

Monotony Instead of Connection

You’re so tired of the turn your relationship has taken. Once full of fun and friendship, it’s now just monotony, repetitive fights, and a lack of connection. Even your sex life is suffering – awkward, infrequent – at times shameful.

You still care deeply for your partner, but you miss feeling like a team.

This can’t be all there is! Is this really as good as it’s going to get? You desperately need help to spark and revive a lasting healthy, emotional, and sexual connection.

When the Relationship Has So Many Issues

Or maybe you’ve struggled your entire marriage with how to integrate your faith/values and ideas about sex. No one talked to you about what to do after your wedding night. No one helped you deal with baggage from past relationships, and you have yet to feel free and worthy of great sex.

Perhaps you’ve searched the Internet for guidance on how to please your partner, sent or received books in their efforts to “help,” and yet in practice you come up short. You aren’t talking about sex, maybe not even having sex, as it’s become a raw spot between the two of you – and yet you long to fulfill one another’s desires both emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

Maybe you’ve hurt each other deeply and are unsure how to repair and move forward. You or your partner said or did something you can’t take back and are unsure how to forgive each other.

You didn’t have a great model for healthy intimacy and struggle to find the words, or yet deep down somehow you know it’s on you, too.

You’re in this for the long haul and wish you two could really hear one another’s dreams, fears, and desires – the whole enchilada!

“It’s hard truths and ridiculous grace to be fully known and loved by you.”

~Tauren Wells

Need a Match to Reignite the Intimacy?

The good news is that we can reunite and reignite this relationship together!

Dr. Estrella uses an integrated experiential approach to build emotional safety and trust. Grounded in humanistic, attachment, solution-focused theory, and training in coaching sexual intimacy, she’ll support you enhance intimacy on all levels.

Having done experiential group work with her own husband, she is aware that nothing will change unless both own how they’ve contributed to whatever is going on and be willing to be vulnerable and responsible.

Bigger Than Your Story

Intimacy isn’t easy! It requires both partners to choose their commitment over whatever story that is driving a wedge between them.

We’ll start by encouraging both to clean up and own what’s happening on your side of the fence, your impact, and perhaps acknowledging unmet needs. You’ll learn the skills you need for healthy mutual intimacy, how to comfort and reassure one another, and ultimately create resolution.

Imagine a relationship where your relational injuries are repaired and you both get your needs met – it’s possible!

Call today to invest in your relationship and set a new course toward intimacy and connection.

“When it comes to sex, the most important 6 inches are between the ears.”

~Dr. Ruth

Sex Therapy

The stories we tell ourselves about our sexual appeal, desire, and bodies highly impact the way we relate sexually.

We are so glad you reached out for support!

If you are having difficulty getting in sync with your partner, turning your sexual plumbing or arousal center on, or having painful sex, the first step is to go in for a full work up with your primary care and reproductive health doctors. Pain is never a healthy sign, and you may benefit from visiting a pelvic floor or genito physical therapist.

Some of the common issues I work with couples and individuals through sex therapy include getting into sync sexually, negotiating your sexual interests and activities, body image, and performance anxiety. I also work with women who are experiencing difficulty with painful sex or low sex drive through the Sweet Release Group.

If you are wondering whether sex therapy would be a good fit for you, consider the following couple.

Esme + Everest: Sex Dry Spell

Sweetest couple ever. Often couples will come in once there is little room for changes, as anger, hurt, contempt, and mistrust have consumed the relationship, kinda like asking a surgeon to sew back on an almost completely severed head – not this couple.

Esme and Everest were married for three years, dated for four prior to that, and described their early sex life as “spicy and nonstop.” And yet they had encountered massive stressors leading to a massive dry spell in the bedroom.

They both expressed a strong commitment to the relationship in the first session, lighting up as they shared what first brought them together, and yet emotions flooded in as I shared a little about the Dual Control Model and how our brains neurologically act a as a brake and accelerator for our sexual expression.

First Things First

In the first session, we will often start with an extensive sexual health history and start to look at the “brakes” or stressors that influenced how you are experiencing sex. As in the case of Esme and Everest, we’ll often explore how safe both feel emotionally to express their feelings and needs to the other, as well as how confident they are in carrying it out in bed.

In the case of this couple, the first step involved pausing sex for a few sessions to give them a chance to focus on re-establishing emotional safety in the relationship. Neither had much of a model of healthy relationships from their families. Then everything was compounded with both being in graduate school, working, living at his parents’ house, and having lost a house the year before – both were maxed out.

He yearned to be close to her, to be reassured that she still wanted him, while she felt flooded with his advances, struggling to make sense of past trauma and how to heal. We spent some time clarifying what their ideal sex life would be, then started to dismantle each of the stressors using a technique geared toward creating resolution in a collaborative way.

Together, they began to see the “dance” or core pattern that they’d stumbled into when one or the other felt distressed. They each began to take on individual goals in response to their own needs as well as those of their partner.

Creating a Shared Sexual Vision

Couples often will create goals that involve both how they are relating to sex, as well as practical physical techniques. Even the happiest of couples can struggle with their sexual relationship, and so we make sure to provide you with strategies and resources to learn and grow together.

It can be daunting to talk with your partner about your sexual needs or desires – let alone a third party!

You can rest assured that our team understands.

Nothing to Be Ashamed of Here

One of the most awkward and liberating experiences of Dr. Schaepper and Dr. Estrella was when they both showed up at a Sexual Freedom Workshop unbeknownst to one another (along with Dr. Schaepper’s husband).  Now we laugh about it; yet can you imagine going to a sex workshop with your parents? Or your daughter?

And yet aren’t these the people we would love to be able to ask those tough questions?

What to do when the spark feels like it’s fading out of our marriage? Or how to have an experience of joy and abandon through frisky and fully expressed sex?

Our family and larger, conservative, faith-based community didn’t really lend itself to having open healthy dialogues about sex. And yet it’s such an integral part of life and intimacy!

Now we invite the conversation openly. We hold space for women and men to explore their emotional AND sexual needs in an accepting, positive, and safe environment.

And it’s never too late to get frisky! Don’t wait your whole life to experience the ecstasy of extended orgasms or the freedom of moving past missionary position.

You may be in a committed relationship, or perhaps considering a new one.

No matter what your situation, age, or sexual orientation, take action for your own sexual pleasure and freedom. Take action in support of your partner’s needs.

Sex, intimacy, and emotional safety aren’t always easy topics to talk about, yet the results can be SO worth diving in!

Our approach is warm, straightforward, focused on strengths, and informed by research. All relationship statuses welcome. Call to set up your free 15-minute phone consult today!

It’s time to kick shame and discomfort to the curb!

“Make it your goal to create a marriage
that feels like the safest place on earth.”

~Greg Smalley

Premarital Counseling

You’re getting married!!!

You are over the moon, super excited, and maybe a little nervous, too, about all that goes into a wedding these days.

You recognize the value in getting some guidance prior to the wedding to really launch you into a lifetime adventure with this incredible person. You aren’t sure whether to go through your church or a therapist – and yet something in your gut knows it’d help.

Or maybe you are thinking seriously about making a life-long commitment and find yourselves bumping into each other again and again. You didn’t have the best model for a healthy intimate partnership, and you are not sure how to bring up concerns about your relationship or how it will be when you take the plunge.

You may feel uncertain how to integrate into each other’s families, culture, religions, backgrounds, etc. and could use some support in building bridges. Maybe it’s been tougher than you thought it should be at this point, and yet you love each other SO much! You’d benefit from getting some guidance.

Committed or Just Thinking About It

Regardless of whether you two are in it for life or still trying to sort it out, premarital counseling offers you focused professional support in communication, conflict resolution, and evoking mutual satisfaction.

Together, with a licensed couples and family therapist, you will take a thorough online assessment of your couples’ strengths and growth opportunities called Prepare/Enrich and then embark on six sessions in person or online.

Each hour-long session is geared toward learning the key elements needed to build a strong emotional foundation for your partnership:

  • YOUR STORY: What brought you together and what do you consider your strengths as a couple? Where have you bumped into each other already?
  • VISION + FEEDBACK: What do you both see possible for your relationship and where are you in that journey? How do you communicate your needs? Learn your dance and how they approach the other when distressed.
  • POWER + INTIMACY: How do you share your power and decision making? What is your vision for emotional and sexual intimacy?
  • VALUES + FINANCES: What matters most to each of you and how do you envision making it happen? What are your priorities and how do you communicate these effectively?
  • COMFORT + CONNECTION: Learn ways to intentionally resolve conflict and provide the comfort and connection that you want.
  • CLEARING + BLESSING: Learn how to repair when you let each other down and identify a shared vision for your life.

This special package of six sessions for $600 is offered, because each marriage that starts off equipped to learn, grow, and support one another really does make the world a better place.

We are hardwired for connection. If the last generation’s high divorce rate tells us anything, it’s that we need support to really thrive in marriages. This work will most likely reveal blind spots in the happiest of couples and offer immediate support, strategies, and tools to amend and strengthen your couple.

Some find that after the six sessions they would like to continue working on a particular issue through regular couples therapy, whereas most move ahead confident and clear about their relationship.