In couples therapy, Phil works from the premise that there are three entities in the room—the two individuals and the relationship that they form. As part of his assessment, Phil helps the couple identify what the needs are for the couple and the individuals. An essential process is to understand the history of the relationship and note how the relationship may have been developed with strengths and weakness as well adapted to changes (children, work, health, loss, aging, personal growth, addiction, new relationships, etc.)
Phil believes that a healthy relationship supports the growth of each person in the relationship. By holding the experience of differentiation for each partner, true intimacy is achieved. Differentiation is the ability to feel, think, and be with oneself in contact with their partner and not feel that their partner’s own feelings, thoughts, and behaviors will cause them to stray away from their holding of their own uniqueness (sense of himself or herself). Being in this way can lead to deeper satisfaction with each other in many aspects of life including sexual satisfaction.
Phil recognizes that it takes courage and trust to let go of dynamics that may have existed in the relationship which causes distress in interactions. Phil is active in providing practical interventions that build or re-build mutual trust and respect which leads to the authenticity of each partner and the relationship.
Sometimes issues around early psychological development do arise for either or both partners as part of the challenge for growth in the relationship. Phil uses important historical material as opportunities for healing and creating corrective interactions within the relationship. These experiences often lead to a deeper bond in the relationship.
Phil makes room for couples at various stages in their partnership—premarital, early marriage and parenthood, midlife, the experience of an affair, empty nest, and aging together. Phil is also comfortable with gay and lesbian partnerships.