East Bay Couples Counselors

[two_third] Our San Francisco marriage and couples counselors are experienced Marriage and Family Therapists who specialize in working with couples and individuals. They are dedicated to helping you create the relationship you want! [/two_third] [one_third_last][/one_third_last] [two_third]

Amber Leshan, couples therapist in San Francisco
Amber Leshan, MFT

My psychotherapeutic style is warm, engaged, direct and yet, empathetic. I offer caring and intuitive support, helping couples to identify difficult underlying relational dynamics and patterns. In our therapeutic work together, you will learn ways to diffuse these challenging patterns and cultivate mutual understanding and deepen intimacy. I utilize an attachment oriented developmental model which focuses on helping you harness your healthy individual development. Your individual development will in turn spark health and growth within your relationship and, ultimately, lead to more satisfying and sustainable experiences of closeness and intimacy.

My theoretical orientations are primarily psychodynamic, relational, attachment oriented, somatic, and trauma informed. I hold an MA from CIIS in Counseling Psychology with an Emphasis in Somatics. I have completed Level I training in Sensorimotor Psychotherapy and EMDR. Both EMDR and Sensorimotor Psychotherapy are modalities that specialize in the treatment of trauma. I find that these modalities are very helpful in my work with couples as past trauma is frequently re-evoked in relationships. In addition, I am receiving ongoing training in, The Developmental Model of Couples Therapy Training Program from The Couples Institute.

I work with a wide range of clients and therapeutic issues. I am very dedicated towards culturally sensitive care and I am aware of the impacts of intersecting axis of oppression on both systemic and individual levels. I am poly friendly and have significant clinical experience working with queer and transgender clients. I affirm sexual and gender diversity in my practice.

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Office Location
315 Sanchez Street,
San Francisco, CA 94114
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Sergio Rodriguez-Castillo, couples therapist in San Francisco
Sergio Rodriguez-Castillo, AMFT

Yes, there is hope. Although it may be hard for you to believe it right now, I have witnessed how couples can work through difficult crises. The end of the honeymoon does not mean the beginning of the end. With commitment and support, fights, lies, and silences can be turned into supportive conversations. Your relationship can become the safe haven you hoped for, a supportive environment where love and growth can take place. You can learn to be in relationship.

Sergio is a bilingual (Spanish) and bicultural psychotherapist with more than 20 years of experience as a therapist, consultant, and coach specialized in diverse couples with mixed backgrounds (nationality, race, religion, age, culture, styles, points of view…) working with them to disentangle personal, existential, relational and family crises. He helps clients with communication issues, infidelity, lack of sexual desire, anger, mixed agendas, money quarrels and problems with children and in-laws; supporting them to get more out of life and their relationship. His work includes all dimensions: body, mind, spirit, heart, and culture, in the context of nature and community.

Sergio is not only a psychotherapist but a trainer of psychotherapists, teaching couples counseling at the California Institute of Integral Studies, holding MAs in Integral Psychotherapy and Comparative Psychology from CIIS in California, an LLM from Warwick University in the UK, a JD from the UAQ in Mexico, and Psycho-Spirituality Studies from the Sadhana Institute in India.

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Office Location
618 Athens St.
San Francisco, CA 94112
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Gal Szekely, couples therapist in San Francisco
Gal Szekely, MFT

Founder of The Couples Center, Gal has a warm and practical approach that recognizes and honors the best in every person. Gal’s relationship with his wife is the source of inspiration for his commitment to helping couples create thriving relationships. Going through their relationship struggles made him realize how a committed relationship is the most important vehicle for one’s personal growth. Gal has a lifelong dedication to learning and growth and is trained in many different couples counseling methods. He is a teacher in the Hakomi experiential therapy method and his work draws on years of meditation practice and the understanding of the body-mind connection. While working with many couples Gal saw that most relationship issues are the result of thinking that “it should come naturally” and not realizing that in order to make a long term relationship work, one need to learn the right tools and resources. This realization led him to create The Couples Center.

Gal holds a master’s degree in Integral Counseling Psychology from CIIS in San Francisco and a master’s in Social Psychology from Tel-Aviv University in Israel and is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. He is an experienced speaker and workshop leader, and has led events for tech companies, nonprofits, and universities (including CIIS, JFK, and ITP). His latest talk is called “Sex, love and intimacy – principles for creating successful relationships.”

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Office Location

870 Market St., Suite 907
San Francisco, CA 94102
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Vanita Kunert, couples counselor in San Francisco
Vanita Kunert, MFT

Couples blame and complain seeking to reach their partner but end up withdrawing or fighting. Using a structured approach Vanita assists couples in learning new ways of connecting with each other. In the session Vanita is engaging and interactive using each person’s strengths and helping them identify their tender spots. Creating new ways to experience the original spark of attraction is a key. Navigating the inevitable differences effectively is essential.

Navigating challenging work stress is a key; Vanita draws on 20 years experience working at PG&E as the EAP Manager where she assisted employees and their family members with a wide range of personal and workplace issues.

Vanita draws upon processes from the Couples Institute in Menlo Park which utilizes a developmental approach to couples and also from John Gottman’s Relationship Institute.
Practicing skill building using handouts in the couples counseling session with assignments between sessions is useful in developing new habits.

Vanita is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and holds a masters degree in counseling psychology from John F Kennedy University. She is experienced in working with diverse populations including LGBTQ, monogamous, polyamorous couples and couples recovering from affairs.

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Office Location

3150 18th Street, Suite 501
San Francisco, CA 94110
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Nicolette Sweeney, MFT, San Francisco couples counselor
Nicolette Sweeney, MFT

I am a Brooklyn native brought to San Francisco one decade ago by a quest for love and personal growth, following a career path of many twists and turns including artist, fashion designer, educator and dance instructor. My personal transformations via many a “dark night of the soul” has led me to my role as licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.

I firmly believe that no one is a lost cause. My work has been shaped by the philosophy that at our very essence we have the ability to regenerate, start anew, and move toward happiness and hope.

My work as a “helper” includes 7 years of providing psychotherapy, 8 years of therapeutic mentoring of at-risk youth using the arts and 22 years of spiritual guidance counseling in Buddhist community.

Since 2010, I have worked in a clinical capacity providing individual, couple, child and family therapy in multi-cultural communities using an eclectic approach of Expressive Arts Therapy, attachment-based, Emotionally Focused Therapy and mindfulness. My vow is to work in mutually empowered partnership with my clients toward developing secure, loving relationships with self and other.

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Office Location

Sacramento St
San Francisco, California 94109
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Annu Sood, MFTi, San Francisco couples counselor
Annu Sood, MFT Associate

Many couples struggle to bridge across differences. Some would like to improve communication; others may be looking to increase intimacy or perhaps to gain perspective through life changes – an upcoming marriage, a new pregnancy, or maybe adjusting to an empty nest. Many come to couples counseling because of challenges in their relationships. I can help. I work with you to identify and understand the chain of events that led to increasing negativity in your relationship so that you can course-correct. As we develop awareness of these events and of our experience of being in such escalating situations, we can have choice in how we respond. And with choice, we can invite a different relationship with those we love. For some, this may mean deepening in intimacy; for others, perhaps the choice is a move towards separation.

When working with couples, I look at the entire system and also the components of that system. I observe how you interact with you partner, highlighting opportunities for stronger connection and more authentic communication with one another. I work relationally with you, noticing ways in which we interact with one another, as this may inform how you relate with others in your life. I strive to cultivate a relationship with you and your partner that is honest and direct, yet gentle. I can help you understand how you got to where you are, and, perhaps more importantly, how to move towards where you would like to be. After all, passionate communication is an essential part of a healthy long-term relationship. I will help you learn how to bring compassion into your communications while still speaking your truth. I will work with you to help you understand your partner’s wants and needs better, and to help you notice how you express your own wants and needs.

I hold a Master’s in Counseling Psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies, where I specialized in Gestalt Therapy. Before becoming a psychotherapist, I worked in the corporate sector for nearly two decades. I hold an undergraduate degree from Duke University in Engineering. I also have a Master’s on the business side, also from Duke. I have a multi-cultural background that greatly informs the ways in which I move in the world. My parents were immigrants to the United States in the early 1970s, and I was raised in a small town in North Carolina. Being a Third Culture Kid (TCK) greatly impacted my upbringing and has been a strong point in helping me bridge across difference.

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Office Location

110 Gough Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
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Ephrat Shapiro, MFT Associate in San Francisco
Ephrat Shapiro, MFT Associate

I know, you guys are stuck. Although the issues are changing, the dynamic between the two of you often has the same music. You know what your partner is going to say; you can predict how you are going to act. Even though you know how it’s going to play out, it never helped you to get what you want. You got lost and you can’t find each other. I work with individuals and couples, particularly those who are stuck in this negative cycle. I believe that underneath all the hostility and the withdrawal, there is a deep longing for connection. In our work together, we will expand the way you and your partner communicate with each other.
We will learn to speak the language of the heart. It is possible; I have witnessed high
conflict partners finding each other and falling in love again.My passion is working with trauma and relationship issues. We usually have wounded areas due to past relationships. That is why relationships can also be a source of healing. Witnessing partners give each other new experiences and eventually rewiring each other’s brain is what makes this work so inspiring for me.
Before pursuing my advanced degree in psychotherapy, I took time to explore mindfulness and spirituality in India, where I sat numerous retreats. To integrate the two worlds, I followed my devotion and completed my master’s degree in Integral Counseling Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS). In addition to my graduate training, I pursued specialized training in Hakomi, mindfulness-centered somatic psychotherapy, and EFT (Emotionally focused therapy) for couples.My specialties include: working with trauma, relationships, anxiety, as well as immigration and relocation adjustments. Having grown up in Israel, I am acutely aware of a multitude of cultural differences that may resonate with you.

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Office Location

870 Market St.,
Suite 401
San Francisco, CA

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Bianca Aarons, couples therapist in San Francisco
Bianca Aarons, MFT

Bianca believes it is through intimate relationships that we re-experience our deepest ability to feel love. Relationships can also be a place where we experience our most painful wounds. Within relationships, we know ourselves differently than we do when we are alone. We are entering into our romantic relationship with whatever conditioning, patterns, wounds, and work that we have done on ourselves before we first met our partners. Being close to a partner is vulnerable, and sharing oneself with another has the potential to be both healing and difficult. Couples may come into therapy to deepen a bond that feels distant or numb, and may also come in to work through a dynamic that has been stuck, locked, and hard to overcome.

Bianca has a history working with couples who feel disconnected. She specializes in working with couples where one or both members have a history of attachment struggles, relationship problems and histories of sexual abuse. She works relationally in a slow and direct manner to help each person understand the dynamics in the relationship that may keep each person in a role that they may not want to be in. She helps each person express their feelings, talk about what is happening for them, and learn how to communicate to one other in a way that is clear and helpful.

Bianca is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who holds a Masters degree in Integral Counseling Psychology from California Institute of Integral Studies, and a Bachelor of Science in Biological Psychology from UC Davis. Bianca has had additional training in Sue Johnson’s model for couples of Emotionally Focused Therapy, as well as a two year long psychodynamic training from San Francisco’s Center for Psychoanalysis. Bianca relies deeply on background, history, attachment styles, attachment dynamics, and feelings within the couple and the relationship to work through what is coming up within a couple. Bianca’s style is warm, introspective, and thoughtful, she strives to make sure that each partner feels safe in the room.

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Office Location

2120 Market Street
SUITE 201
San Francisco, CA 94114

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Chris Swayne, Associate Therapist San Francisco
Chris Swayne, Associate MFT

Chris works with couples, both deeply listening and offering tools (of self regulation through greater understanding of things like our autonomic nervous system and earlier attachment patterns, self-awareness, and communication skills) and perspective. She helps couples to look at and understand the cycles we participate in within relationships in an effort to make more options accessible.

She subscribes to the understanding, as M. Feldenkrais puts it, that “You can’t do what you want till you know what you’re doing.” Communication issues, struggles with intimacy, sexuality, recovery from infidelity, navigating opening up, getting engaged, starting a family, and difficult family dynamics are some of the common topics that Chris works alongside couples to navigate.

Chris comes to the Couples Center with a background in medical care and education, working in women’s health, assistant teaching elementary-aged children, serving as a birth doula, and teaching yoga. She holds a bachelor’s degree in communications, a master’s degree in somatic psychotherapy, is trained in EMDR, (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, a trauma modality) and is a SFSI certified sex educator. She is dedicated to practicing respectful, non-pathologizing, culturally-informed, and community-relevant therapy.

Though we use the word couple on this website, please feel encouraged to contact Chris if you’re seeking support for a triad or moresome or if your format of romantic relationship is not represented by that word.

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Office Location

735 Montgomery St.
Ste 300
San Francisco, CA 94111

and

Carmel-by-the-Sea:
Patterson Building on 6th between Lincoln & Dolores
Carmel-by-the-Sea 93921

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Bill Ward, MFT in San Francisco
Bill Ward, MFT

A loving and bonded relationship has the power to heal. Through my education and personal experience, I was captivated by the notion that positive and nurturing relationships help to reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression, grief, and personal tragedy. The science of love and adult attachment resonated most deeply for me when I connected deeply with the practice Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy, EFT (Sue Johnson, 1996). Out of this model I aspire to provide a warm, safe, caring, and informed experience, as you discover what gets in the way of feeling connected in your relationship.

Further, the process of therapy must be an exercise unique to the specific issues of every couple. I quickly discovered how my curiosity and scientific interest connected with my personal search for meaning, purpose, and connection, in relationship. When I work with couples I strive to support them in making sense of their inner and outer process and to experience what it means to feel understood and understand each other. My work as an EFT therapist supports couples to feel safe, nurtured and grounded in their connection with one another, and informed in how to realize less conflict, and experience a deeper sense of satisfaction and happiness in their relationship.

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Office Location

55 New Montgomery St.
Ste. 316
San Francisco, CA 91405

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Marni Levy, MFT couples therapist in San Fracisco
Marni Levy, MFT Counselor

My approach is somatic (body awareness), experiential (use creativity to try different relational experiments), and mindfulness-based (attention to what is present in the mind and body, in the here and now). In working specifically with couples, I use the EFT approach (emotionally focused therapy). This is an approach that holds true that from cradle to coffin we all need safe, secure, and comforting, close human connection.

When we have safety and security in our relationship, we know we can turn to our person and regain a sense of balance in our world. When the safety is not there we feel disorganized, fearful, and alone and can act out in ways we aren’t quite proud of- through blame or defensiveness-which only pushes us further away from our partner.

My work with couples is a compassionate and loving approach which honors the anger and frustration that comes up when the bond is being threatened, and transforms reactive cycles into positive, connected cycles of empathy and repair, emotional responsiveness and affection. Areas I work in: navigating conflict, assertiveness, expressing feelings and needs, physical/emotional intimacy, infidelity, and forgiveness. You can expect an exploration of laughter and tears as you pave your way to more play, intimacy, bonding, safety, and trust.

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Office Location

870 Market Street
Suite 1046
San Francisco, CA[/one_third_last]

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Traci Freeman, AMFT couples therapist in San Francisco
Traci Freeman, AMFT Counselor

I am a MFT Associate in San Francisco. I work with couples and individuals to help improve the quality of your life and relationships. I welcome all parts of you, no matter your age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, background or race, as we explore the obstacles and challenges that may be holding you back. Sometimes it’s too difficult to live with the self critic, the hopelessness, loneliness, an unsatisfying relationship or stressful family dynamics. Everything in your world is being impacted and it’s exhausting. I know, I have been there. In therapy, we will take the our time to understand who you are, what you really want, the contributing factors that shape you and deep hurts so transformation can happen.

Areas of work include: anxiety, depression, life transitions, work/life balance, divorce, co-parenting, sexuality, intimacy, developmental trauma and self-esteem.

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Office Location

1390 Market St, Suite 200.
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