Todd Creager's marriage therapy practice focuses on helping couples experiencing intimacy issues (toddcreager.com; LMFT).
What is the most common problem couples come to you with?
I would say there are two. One is infidelity. People call me after a secret has been discovered. The betrayed person is devastated and often not sure what to do next. It could also be the person who cheated who is now is a panic because the partner is threatening divorce. The second is lack of intimacy and sex. Here as well, either the person who is frustrated or feeling rejected by the lack of intimacy or the person who has low libido and panicked about the possible end of the relationship will call me.
What do you find are the main factors that contribute to a couple's lack of intimacy?
There are many and I have given hundreds of talks to therapists and physicians on this very topic. There can be medical factors such as hormonal issues that lower libido and interfere with intimacy. There can be early trauma such as physical, mental or sexual abuse as a child. The most common reason is lack of connection between the couple. For example, women need emotional connection to feel sexual (usually) and they could close down sexually when they don’t have that emotional connection. Overall lack of communication skills can interfere with intimacy. Lastly, many couples stop putting the effort in to keep the relationship alive and passionate. The passion that comes automatically in the courtship period has to be consciously created as the relationship continues from the lust and romantic stages to the attachment stage of a relationship.
In your experience, can the damage caused by marital infidelity be effectively repaired through counseling?
Absolutely. I have a VERY high success rate with couples who come into my practice wanting to heal from infidelity. Couples can learn what are the underlying factors that lead to the affair, correct the patterns and end up having an even better relationship than before the affair. I am not trying to say that infidelity is good; it actually is very hurtful and damaging. However, the truth is that those couples willing to learn and work through the affair can become more mature and solid as a couple.
How does your approach differ when working couples over the course of counseling sessions versus a couple’s retreat?
Since counseling sessions are relatively short and frequent, the work we do is designed to help clients build skills and “emotional muscle” each week. The experiential sessions get increasingly more challenging depending on how the couple is progressing. The deep work that happens needs to be early enough in the session so that by the time the session ends, they are in a better place. Retreats give the couples and me the time to go deeper with the knowledge that they are in a safe and supervised place for a longer time. There is deep work done in both approaches; the difference s that the deep work can get going much earlier and with less caution in a retreat format. (There should always be caution, but there is less caution in a retreat setting because the couple is not thrown out into real life being left to their own devices as quickly). The similarity in both approaches is that the intention with both is to help the couple go from disconnected and defensive to connected and closer. When I do retreats, I still recommend some aftercare sessions to solidify the results that they achieved in the intense workshop. Most people still need some time beyond the retreat to consolidate gains.
What is the best way for people to get in touch with you?
I can be reached via telephone at (714) 848-2288 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Signing up for my newsletter is very easy as well and people can sign up on my website at www.toddcreager.com.