115 E 86th St, New York, NY 10028 (212) 794-6057

Couples Therapy & Relationship Counseling

At the onset of commitment within a relationship, or during trying times, couples often experience stress and confusion that can impact their ability to grow together and maintain a heartfelt connection. Dr. Smerling specializes in clarifying and deepening a couples’ connections through:

Pre-marital therapy

For couples just starting their lives together, Dr. Smerling utilizes a proactive approach to help couples establish healthy communication patterns and develop habits that positively impact and promote life-long relationships. She explores with each couple their unique dynamics, addressing the underlying emotions, motivations, and behaviors in exploration of healthier patterns.

Relationship counseling

Relationship counseling – which may also be referred to as couples therapy or marriage counseling – is for couples who, whether through a specific circumstance or just the general course of their marriage, have lost their intimate connection. A relationship counselor is an invited neutral third party who will assist couples to grow together.

I have been seeing Dr. Smerling for two years, for couples therapy with my husband, and from time to time individually. She has consistently demonstrated a caring, empathetic, and personal approach in her interactions with us. She has helped us to relate to each other better as a couple, to overcome some challenging issues we faced, and has helped us to better support our children when they needed it and to do a better job parenting together as a team. She is adept at making both sides of a couple feel heard and understood (this is very hard to find with a therapist), and at opening a pathway for long lasting progress over time.

As a couple’s therapist, Dr. Smerling provides counseling to resolve conflict and to create healthier patterns of behavior. Her approach is interwoven with new discoveries in the neurobiology of emotions, which explore cycles and attachment issues, and work to create validation and secure bonds in the relationship.

Just as no two relationships are the same, every couple who visits our Upper East Side therapy office needs something different. Some couples may have been having problems in their relationship for a long time, while others may be proactively reaching out for a mediator before bigger issues arise in their relationship. Whatever the case may be, Dr. Kathryn Smerling has the experience, training and ability to help you and your partner create a plan that will bring about lasting benefits in your relationship.

In addition to assisting countless couples on their journey to developing strong and long-lasting relationships, Dr. Smerling has also provided media interviews and talks regarding her expertise in couples therapy and relationship counseling.

Get Started with Couples Counseling

If you think that couples counseling is the right decision for your relationship, here are the next steps to getting started:

Book a Consultation: You can book your initial consultation directly on our website. When you do, please take some time to tell Dr. Smerling a little bit about yourself, as well as your relationship. Let us know if you desire a session that is in-person, or if a virtual consultation would be preferable.

Your First Session: For many couples, this is the hardest step. Just keep in mind that attending one session does not mean that you need to sign up for an entire course, or schedule out months of sessions in advance. Dr. Smerling will work with you on your time, and ensure that the both of you feel comfortable and like it is a good fit. During this first session, please ask questions regarding the relationship counseling process, and voice and concerns you may have. Be entirely open and know that it is a safe space to express your feelings, thoughts and apprehensions.

Scheduling Your Next Appointments: As a therapy office in New York City, we know how difficult it can be to find the time in your busy schedules to commit to ongoing appointments. We recommend getting creative when it comes to scheduling, and understand that in order to really make couples therapy work for you, you may need to make plans regarding child care, extracurricular activities, social engagements or work schedules. Dr. Smerling will also do her best to provide as many options as possible, which would of course include offering virtual therapy sessions.

Ready to get started? Book a consultation on our website. If you have more questions, browse our Frequently Asked Questions below, or reach out to Dr. Smerling online or by phone at (212) 794-6057.

Couples Therapy FAQ

Can counseling help a relationship?

Absolutely any relationship can benefit from counseling. A qualified couple’s therapist will help you and your parents work through various problems, disagreements and frustrations, whether they stem from financial concerns, parenting decisions, lack of communication or affection, infidelity, incompatibilities, and more.

Do unmarried couples go to counseling?

Of course. You do not need to be married in order to seek counseling. In fact, about only half of the couples that Dr. Smerling works with are actually married. A long-term relationship – whether married or not – is important and can often require counseling. There are all kinds of relationships, from all walks of life, and there is no cap on reasons to seek help.

Dr. Smerling works with all couples, including the following:

  • Long-term relationships
  • Second or third marriages
  • Same-sex marriages and relationships
  • Mixed-race marriages and relationships
  • Open marriages and relationships
  • Transgender or Non-Binary relationships

When should you see a couple’s counselor?

This is a personal and private decision, and one that only you can make together. You don’t need to wait for “problems” to arise or to be fighting with each other all of the time in order to start seeing a relationship counselor. However, if significant challenges in your relationship are present – such as violence, substance abuse or infidelity – it might be wise to seek a counselor sooner rather than later, and be very upfront and honest about all of your relationship problems. The sooner you commit to therapy, and to putting the work in to improve your relationship, the sooner the process of growth and healing can begin.

Will counseling help us have a perfect relationship?

If either you or your partner are clinging to the idea of a “perfect relationship,” we recommend coming to your session understanding that not only does a perfect relationship not exist, it also isn’t what therapy is all about. Movies and TV shows have made it easy for idealistic thoughts to grow, and for some couples to think: “We should never fight. If it were the right fit, things would be easy. I should be able to trust my partner with everything. Our intimate moments should always be fun and meaningful.” The fact of the matter is that these ideas are not a reality, but they can actually interfere with creating a beautiful, imperfect, loving relationship. Dr. Smerling will work with you to uncover any of these underlying beliefs you may have, and get to work on what matters the most.

How long does counseling take?

It’s impossible to put a time frame on something as intricate and sensitive as couples counseling. But it would be helpful if you came to your first session ready to get right down to business. Therapy is hard work. If you’re serious about getting help, then having the right mindset and attitude will go a long way towards how quickly you progress. But ultimately, while Dr. Smerling may have recommendations, it’s up to you and your partner how long you continue with your therapy sessions.

What should I know before starting couples therapy?

If we’re being honest, the fact of the matter is couples therapy is among the most challenging work a therapist can do. It’s not easy to work with two individuals – both with unique perspectives, personalities and experiences – and help them to reestablish a connection and devotion to their relationship. Know that it is hard work on everyone’s part, and that it’s absolutely vital to be honest and open with your partner and therapist during your counseling sessions in order to ensure we’re getting to the root of your problems, and working on a plan together.

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