RLT Method for
Couples Counseling

Evidence-Based Approach

What is Relational Life Therapy?

happy family with dog

Relational Life Therapy (RLT) is – a form of couples counseling founded by internationally recognized family therapist, Terry Real. 

Terry Real’s work is based on Pia Mellody’s model of family therapy. Pia Mellody, a renowned expert on trauma and recovery, pioneered an approach to family therapy that explores how childhood trauma affects adult relationships. While Pia’s work is primarily with families, Terry Real built on many of the same principles and applied them specifically to couples.  

The RLT methodology emphasizes the importance of learning personal accountability, setting boundaries, and having the confidence to break with traditional roles in order to achieve greater harmony with your partner. 

The skills I gained in becoming RLT certified allow me to cut to the heart of the issues in your relationship. Learning about Relational Life Therapy gave me the piece I felt was missing in my practice – the courage to step out of the traditional therapist role and interact with you as a person, not just as a client. 

Highlights from the RLT method include:

  • Identifying the “dance” you do with your partner, such as the more one pursues, the more the other distances, or the more one criticizes, the more the other defends.
  • Uncovering how you learned the steps to that particular dance growing up.
  • Connecting what you were taught as a child to the negative patterns that are affecting your current relationship.
  • Considering the impact of broader, societal influences such as expected gender roles
  • Coaching you on a different path forward.
  • Exploring what mature love can look like in your relationship.

What is your relationship dance?

A primary concept Terry Real talks about is the ‘dance’ couples do in their marriages and relationships. Or, as he also calls it, “The More, The More.” 

Not sure what I’m talking about? See if any of these sound familiar:

  • The more one pursues, the more the other distances. 
  • The more one criticizes, the more the other defends. 
  • The more one requests sex, the more the other withdraws. 
  • The more one over-functions (think: household tasks, parenting) the more the other person under-functions. 


The thing about this particular dance is that you learned the steps early on in life, and most likely you learned them unconsciously. 

Discover the Connection

In order to shed some light on why you do your own unique dance (and how to change the music), I work with you to discover the connection between your childhood narratives and your current adult relationships.

Lovingly and without shame, I’m able to uncover why you do what you do, and help you see how it’s likely a problem you were set up to have. 

But I don’t stop there. 

 The Transformation

The transformation comes in the next step.

The success of your relationship depends on you being willing to try something different – to change your dance.

Now you’re able to see how the patterns you learned are killing your relationship. And now you get to use that knowledge to change the direction you’re heading.

Changing your relationship dance takes courage and persistence,<pstyle=”font-weight: 400;”=””> and you won’t get it perfect right away. As I learned from Terry, though, what matters isn’t that you get it right the first time. What matters is that instead of having your pattern be “the more you do the same,” it changes to “the more you try different.”</pstyle=”font-weight:>

In this powerful process of understanding and changing the dance you do, I coach you every step of the way and help you build new, healthier patterns.

What is the broader context of your relationship?

Social Influences

For you to gain an even deeper understanding – and deeper healing – around the issues in your relationship, it’s important to acknowledge the broader societal influences that have led you to where you are. 

Men and Emotional Connections

In Western society, boys are taught not to show emotions. And yet, men are expected to be emotionally connected husbands and partners. Young men learn that shows of strength, competitive prowess, and a lack of emotion are what define them. This leaves men at a loss when it comes to cultivating emotional connections. 

Women and Sacrificing Strength

On the other hand, young women now have more autonomy than ever before, yet are still taught to sacrifice their strength and muffle their voices.  This leaves women feeling frustrated and without the skills to ask for what they want or to set boundaries in a constructive way. 

Understandably, this divide cripples modern relationships. 

In their own right, both strength and gentleness are valuable traits, and I work with you to learn how and when each is appropriate. I coach you both on setting boundaries and claiming responsibility for your part of the issues in your relationship. I give you the tools you need and coach you on how to pursue a healthier path.