About Jill Edelman, M.S.W., L.C.S.W.
Specialist in Individual and Couples Therapy
Hello. I’m Jill Edelman, and, counting clinical practice, training and education I’ve been a therapist for over four decades.
My practice focus is on couples therapy which draws on my skills and experience working with individuals and couples with a wide range of issues. Some of the problems presented to me have included significant child-parent strains, divorcing parents, step-family adjustments, post-divorce parenting, mid-life confusion, loss of a family member, betrayal and affairs, children and gender orientation, same-sex relationships, gay and lesbian adult children, dealing with mental illness, cultural differences, special needs parenting and the impact of extended family members and family business on a couple’s relationship.
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After three decades of professional experience as a licensed clinical social worker, M.S.W., psychotherapist and couples therapist, trained in psychoanalysis, family systems and couples therapy, I have developed an approach to individual and couples work that utilizes deep listening skills melded together with strategic and problem solving techniques.
My philosophy, garnered from decades of study and careful listening to clients, provides a collaborative approach wherein the couple and the therapist work as a team of three to unravel the injurious patterns of behavior in the relationship, understand the historic roots and, by doing so, reduce the shame that is often lying beneath the surface behaviors.
By normalizing and humanizing underlying feelings, clients feel safer sharing with each other. They experience emotional parity in the relationship and recognize that greater than the need to be right is the need to be honest and close.
Other family members or extended network, who may at times be a crucial part of the couple’s recovery, will be invited by the couple to come in as well. However, the work is primarily to build a strong bond between the partners.
Over time, as the anger and hurt subside, couples become friends and intimates again. This new found or rediscovered delight in each other can last a lifetime.
My Approach: Strengthen the Coupledom
Couples therapy is a tool to enhance the marriage, to be picked up when facing hard choices or hard times: parenting, in laws, financial challenges and medical concerns. It is a tool to prevent the deterioration of the marriage and strengthen the bond. By coming in while the marriage is still viable for both, and before one or both partners have lost the will to make it work, or the love to fuel that will, couples will find that couples therapy is a means to build skills in the partnership to face daily challenges together.
I use the word “coupledom” with my patients/clients. I stress the importance of it above all other “loyalties.” The couple needs to view each other as team players, someone who is on their side, even when sometimes the issues are dividing them. When the couple is more “centered” and clear about their loyalty to each other, viewing the partner as a true partner, someone with whom to “reality test,” share perceptions and be open to feedback, they can work on figuring out the opposing pulls that they often face.
Often, these pulls are their family of origin, (relatives from each side); work/time demands; financial and or child related or sexual dissatisfaction. The couples therapy moves the dynamic (i.e. the usual defensive position) to a new motif, one that lets each partner hear the other, rather than worry about defending themselves. Thus energy is freed and can be utilized in the more constructive activity of listening, learning and expanding one’s ability to understand and to be understood.
Here are a few examples:
One member of the coupledom wants another child. The other is uncertain. The conversation is difficult, the resolution lies beyond the normal conversation. The couple visits a therapist who can help each party hear the needs, concerns, fears, and wishes of the other. The couple leaves with a solution that works for both parties.
Parents are faced with in-law stress, often a huge source of friction, sometimes a weapon of destruction and alienation in a relationship. The tension smolders under the surface. Each holiday decision or birthday is fraught with this underlying tension. The couple decides to seek out therapy to avoid further alienation and to develop a shared strategy in dealing with the often polarizing effects of the in-law relationship.
A child has learning or emotional problems that are straining the family. The couple turns to couples therapy to find a common ground to deal with the child’s needs and impact on the whole family.
Developing a common approach strengthens the couples’ relationship and deepening each partner’s understanding of their partner’s position assures more mutual empathy for each one’s role in the family and the problem at hand. Often one partner is faced more frequently with the “behaviors” of the child. One parent is more on the front lines of the school system, playground or family time, and needs to feel supported and affirmed by the other partner. Again, a common strategy, which includes listening to feelings, and bonding together to help each other and the child, strengthens the relationship and provides the tools/skill building for other challenges.
Many couples fight as if there are only two choices, and both of them conflict. Very intelligent people, entrenched in their “option” lose flexibility, see only two options, and are certain that their partner’s option is wrong. In the therapy, I introduce the notion of “There is always a third option” where thinking out of the box is introduced and practiced. With time, couples learn to seek out that third option themselves by stretching their minds beyond the usual and familiar to embrace a new possibility, one they both are comfortable using.