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Couple & Relationship Therapy

What Is Couples And Relationship Therapy/Counseling?

As human beings, we are hard-wired to connect with other humans in order to survive. This need for connection and belonging is deep in our DNA and drives us to form partnerships, teams, and families. At the same time, when we get close to others out of a longing for connection and safety, it also elicits our deepest fears, hurts, and unmet needs. The more invested we are in the relationship and the more important it is in our lives, the more fears and needs emerge. This, in turn, means that we will have more potential conflict to navigate in the relationship. 

Couple and relationship therapy can help partners work through the many challenges that arise from being in deep connection. To start, relationship therapy provides a space for partners to bring up difficult topics such as major life decisions, trust, physical intimacy and sex, parenting, family dynamics, and finances. The therapist will help the partners build emotional safety so that they can work through disagreements and deepen their emotional intimacy and connection. 

Many relationships get stuck in chronic, negative conflict patterns. The experience of having the same fight over and over again with no resolution can be incredibly discouraging and erodes trust and connection. Relationship therapy will help partners decode these conflict patterns, identify what the fight is really about, and change their communication and behaviors so that they can find understanding and connection. Sometimes relationships have sustained bigger emotional injuries from affairs or other betrayals. In these cases, therapy can help partners repair, heal, and rebuild trust in the relationship. The ultimate goal of couple and relationship therapy is to help partners build and experience a deep sense of connection and intimacy with each other. 

cheerful lesbian couple, happy

Start The Healing Process

Why I Practice Couple and Relationship Therapy?

By Erika Pluhar, PhD, EdS, LMFT, LPC, CST-S

I have been practicing couple and relationship therapy for nearly 20 years. Additionally, I specialize in sex therapy, and have trained and supervised countless other therapists in these modalities. Couple/relationship and sex therapy is both an art and a science. I rely on many evidence-based approaches such as Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), which is based in the science of attachment theory, Gottman methods, systems theory, and the many cognitive-behavioral techniques offered by sex therapy. 

At the same time, I also rely on my ability to connect deeply with people who need to feel heard, to hold space for multiple perspectives that often seem to be in conflict, and to decode behaviors that on the surface seem to be misaligned with intentions. This is the “art” part of the work, and it is very creative, and often like doing improv! I draw on my own emotions and empathy as a human with years of experience as a daughter, mother, wife, sister, and friend. I rely on my ability to be organized,  and to communicate clearly and set boundaries. I continually practice staying open and curious. All of these ingredients make doing couple and relationship therapy challenging and exciting. It is immensely rewarding when I am able to help people work through their defenses, open up their vulnerability and take risks to share deeply with an important person in their life. The positive energy of connection that can emerge fills me with faith in the power of love and hope for the future. 

Erika Pluhar, PhD, EdS,LMFT, LPC, CST-S - Clinical Co-Director of WholeHeart Psychotherapy

WholeHeart Psychotherapy

Feel free to contact us and ask us anything.

Live From Your Heart, Wholly And Authentically.

CEU Workshops

Workshops are longer sessions designed to help deliver a large amount of content in a short period of time. Oftentimes, workshops can last hours to days and are provided in a group format to deliver an intervention in a detailed and often experiential way.

sex therapy session with WholeHeart Psychotherapy in Atlanda
African American woman in a group therapy session
Diverse group therapy
Providers, staff and directors at WholeHeart Psychotherapy


★★★★★Bryn Chafin
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Whole Heart Psychotherapy is an incredible practice of knowledgeable, compassionate, and ethical clinicians. As a therapist myself, it is important to establish relationships with other groups for networking, consultation, and collaborative purposes. I truly appreciate that I can trust the clinicians of Whole Heart to provide effective treatment to clients that I refer to their services. I also am grateful for the professional consultation and collaboration that is provided when working with shared cases or when seeking feedback. Whole Heart and its staff are always on my list of providers for outside referrals.
★★★★★Cameron McIntosh
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As a therapist, I feel very fortunate to have WholeHeart Psychotherapy as a resource. I have never once hesitated to refer to the practice, and have heard nothing but positive feedback from those I have referred. I have personally participated in professional consultation and DBT groups at Wholeheart over the the years, and can't speak highly enough of the experience.
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Whole heart provides caring and helpful therapeutic support to their clients. As a therapist, I frequently refer clients to their practice as well as participate in supervision groups offered by their experienced supervisors.
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i've loved my experience with my therapist at WH!
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absolutely in love with whole heart. i've seen two therapists here and both have been the best. they're all so understanding, communicative, and helpful.
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