Couples Counseling, where to start?

Intimate relational bonds are temperamental. There is a continual ebb and flow in the attachment, a vacillation between a deep harmonious tie and a loosening of this to a dissonant connection. What makes a relationship work, thrive? Where should I go for help?

Intimate Partnerships are Temperamental

There was a pastor of a church that I attended 35 plus years ago that introduced contemporary worship songs into our service. He interwove a few worship songs amid the traditional hymns. It all worked, with one exception. His guitar was regularly out of tune. The sound of that de-tuned guitar grated on my ears. Eventually, I could bear it no more and volunteered to tune his guitar before every service. He confessed that he tuned before he left home each week. But by the time he got to church to play, it was so out of tune it was painful to hear. What happened in the few minutes from home to church? In short, guitars are very temperamental instruments, often affected by the weather and easily get out of tune. Romantic partnerships are also temperamental. Consider that a couple can leave home in harmony and in a matter of minutes arrive at church or a family event in dissonance.

Relationships and guitars naturally fall into dissonance and need constant attention and adjustments to stay in harmony. An out of tune guitar is grating to the ear. Relationship dissonance causes emotional wounds and tears the bond. Here is what is encouraging, the repair of both is well understood and often quite easy.

The Repair

Tuning a guitar is easy. It takes a reference point—knowledge and a basic skill. Relationship ‘repair’ is easy. It too takes a reference—knowledge, and a basic skill. Science verifies ‘how’ relationships fall apart, and ‘how’ they repair. The science of intimate relationships has revealed that all intimate relationships have problems and conflict. This is no epiphany. It is inspiring that social science has revealed what makes relationships thrive. Thriving couples focus on ‘how’ they manage connection and conflict. In short, it is in understanding how problematic patterns form and how the repair occurs that matters. Helping struggling couples find their way to effective connection and repair requires the knowledge and skills of a trained professional. But just not any trained professional.

Trained Professional

Seek help from a qualified professional. It would be foolish to ask a person with knowledge and skills in music, but unfamiliar with guitars to tune a guitar. In the same way it is unwise to seek relationship help from a therapist who lacks advanced training in intimate partner bonds and repairs. Further, the science and treatment of distressed relationships advances over time. The successful couples therapist continues to learn the craft across his/her career. Sadly, there are therapies practiced that have little to no research evidence that substantiate their effectiveness. Even worse, some of them seem to do harm. One of the empirically supported approaches to relationship counseling that we use at Cherry Hill is called Emotionally Focused Therapy, pioneered by Dr. Susan Johnson.

We at Cherry Hill believe a therapist should continue to seek advanced training throughout his/her career. As a result, all our therapists are strongly encouraged to continue to enhance their knowledge and skills of their chosen clientele served. Whether you seek help at Cherry Hill, or elsewhere, it is crucial that you inquire of the therapist’s advanced training. Has she or he received and advanced training in the help you are seeking?

Reaching out for help is a courageous first step. We at Cherry Hill understand this, are honored that you have called us, and will work to treat you with respect for this courageous first step. Further, we are committed to providing competent care from a therapist that has a dedication to enhance their knowledge and skills in working with distressed relationships. We believe we can help and look forward to hearing from you!

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Related Therapist Profiles

The following therapists specialize in Couples Therapy

Cris Goodfellow, Intern Therapist


Cris is an intern therapist, seeking completion of her Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling from Trinity International University (Graduation May 2024). Cris is passionate about working with teens and adults, couples, and families, helping all people to seek individual and relational health.

John DeArvil, MSW

Vernon Hills

John studied psychology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and earned his master’s degree in social work from Loyola University Chicago. He has experience working with adolescents, adults, and families in outpatient and residential treatment settings. John is motivated to work with people to help them progress towards their goals and see genuine improvement.

Shannon Landon, MS, MFT


Shannon is a passionate couple and family therapist who earned her M.S. in human development and family sciences at Northern Illinois University. Her background includes work with adolescents, adults, couples, and families in both outpatient and residential treatment settings. She enjoys supporting adults recovering from childhood trauma and couples looking to form more satisfying relationships.

Caitie McCormack, Intern Therapist


Caitie is a Master’s level counseling intern from Concordia University Chicago. She works with individuals, ages 16+, and couples of all genders on a wide range of concerns, with a particular focus on female sexuality, coping with female sexual pain disorders, and religious and medical trauma. Coming from the male-dominated business world, Caitie strives to empower women and their choices. She embodies down-to-earth discussion where nothing is taboo.

Emily Nikfar, MSW, LSW

Chicago | Deer Park

Emily is a recent graduate from the Tulane School of Social Work, where she completed her MSW and had a concentration in Mental Health, Addiction, and Family Therapy. She has a background in Theater Arts and received her BA in Acting from Columbia College Chicago.

Keith Bjorge, Psy.D.

Lake Zurich | McHenry

Dr. Keith V. Bjorge is a clinical psychologist with 33+ years of experience. He has experience and passion working with troubled marriages, teen and family related problems, chemical addictions, and mood disorders. Dr. Bjorge earned the Master of Arts and Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology.

Karen Robbins, MSW, LCSW

Teletherapy Only

Karen is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She has experience counseling teens, adults, couples, and families. She is trained in multiple empirically supported approaches including Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) for couples. She focuses on developing rapport with clients and using strength-based approaches to facilitate healing and change.

Michelle Schaefer, MA, LCPC, PMHC


Michelle Schaefer, LCPC, has experience working with adults, couples, teens, and families. Michelle has an advanced certification in Perinatal Mental Health and specialized training in Emotionally Focused Therapy for individuals, couples, and families. Michelle strives to create a secure client-therapist alliance in order to support people as they navigate life challenges and heal relationships.

Elizabeth Haines, MS, LCPC

Teletherapy Only

Elizabeth is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor. She values a strong therapeutic alliance and believes that a supportive and collaborative working relationship is instrumental in helping clients improve their overall quality of life. She uses her expertise in yoga and mindfulness to assist clients in learning to calm and relax the stressed body and mind.

Patrick Kelly, MA, LCPC, CCATP


Patrick’s mission as a Licensed Professional Counselor is to utilize his diverse life experience and graduate-level education to make a positive difference in the lives of struggling and hurting people. His passion is working with troubled marriages along with helping individuals cope with and rise above anxiety and depression brought about by life’s challenges and difficulties.

Liz Lattof, MA, LCPC, CCATP

Deer Park | Lake Zurich

As a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor at Cherry Hill Liz works with a wide variety of clients, children, adolescents, families, and adults. She has additional training in play therapy and groups. She enjoys helping people with anxiety, depression, grief, relationship issues, and other challenges and transitions.

John Dichtl, MA, M.Div., LCPC

Teletherapy Only

John Dichtl has worked as a counselor since 2012 in both agency work and private practice. He has focused experience providing couples counseling, and treating mood disorders and addictions. With graduate level training in both therapy and theology, John is uniquely equipped to help clients integrate their psychological and spiritual concerns.

Wayne Corapi, MS, LMFT

Lake Zurich

Wayne is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist whose passion is helping couples in relationship distress find healing and connection. Married for 40+ years and trained in Emotionally Focused Therapy, he is dedicated to using his experience and training to help couples find a deeper level of satisfaction and emotional intimacy in their relationship.

John Kim, MA, LCPC

Deer Park

John received his MA in Mental Health Counseling from Trinity International University where he gained experience doing therapeutic work through the university's counseling center. John is committed to building warm, authentic, and meaningful relationships with his clients as he helps them work toward their unique goals. He works with individuals, couples, and groups.

Alessa Rosati, MA, LMFT

Deer Park

Alessa Rosati is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She graduated from Adler University with a Master’s Degree in Couple and Family Therapy. Along with her work in private practice, Alessa has experience working in school environments and hospital settings. She specializes in helping adolescents and adults with relationship difficulties, issues of low self-esteem, grief and loss, anxiety, and stress.

Alison Yu, MA, M.Div., LCPC

Teletherapy Only

Alison Yu, M.Div, MA, LPC, is a bilingual (English and Mandarin Chinese) counselor who is experienced working with individuals, couples and families. She has a special heart for immigrant families. Trained in both psychology and theology, she is passionate about helping people to integrate the Christian faith in their healing process.

Justin Feinberg, MA, M.Div., LPC


Justin’s Graduate education includes both a Master’s degree in Mental Health counseling as well as a Master’s of Divinity from Trinity International University. He works with individuals, couples, and families and has a heart to see relationships flourish and people become who they were meant to be. He has training in Emotionally Focused Therapy and utilizes this toward helping marriages, families, and individuals thrive.

Sandy Rud, MA, ALMFT


Sandy received her M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy from Wheaton College. She enjoys working with children, couples, adults, and families. She believes the health of family relationships is central to the emotional health and well-being of parents and children.

Laura Ronkoske, MSW, LSW

Lake Zurich

Laura has been a school social worker for 23 years. Nothing brings her more joy than helping young children, adolescents, and adults through life’s most challenging times. She has recently moved to private practice to help others outside the school environment to be their best selves and help give them the tools to be able to do so.

Georgene Manley, LCPC, CAADC


Georgene is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor. She has worked in a clinical setting most of her career. She has treated clients in residential, outpatient addictions and mental health treatment programs, and corporate settings. She loves helping clients tap into the resilience that is often overshadowed when anxiety, depression, or addiction surfaces.

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