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Specialized Therapy for Families and Couples in Pittsburgh

The Center for Marriage & Family

The Center for Marriage and Family (CMF) was created in the Fall of 2016 as an extension of the Cognitive Behavior Institute to help couples and families of all shapes and sizes to have healthier, more satisfying relationships. Healthy, secure relationships are, in the words of Dr. Sue Johnson, like “a tranquilizer to the nervous system” that calms us, deepens life meaning, and helps to keep mental health and physical health issues at bay. Here at the CMF, we provide a wide range of relationship-oriented counseling services which draw from evidence-based models of practice. That is our fancy way of saying that we only use approaches to treatment that have been clinically tested and proven to be effective with a wide range of diverse clients.

In addition to using evidence-based models, our clinicians have a wealth of clinical experience and have received cutting-edge training on how to promote stronger family and community connections.


Happy couple

When treating couples, we draw from a model of counseling that has developed out of 40 years of research by Dr.’s John & Julie Gottman focused upon answering the question, “What really separates couples who are headed for divorce vs. couples who stay happily married?” Our couple counselors have received training and supervision in the Gottman method which focuses on helping couples to develop practical relationship skills that will allow them to thrive as a couple and eradicate patterns of interaction that are relationship busters.

When treating families, we utilize a combination of Structural Family Therapy and Brief Solution Focused Therapy to help families identify and leverage their strengths so they can better reach their goals, solve problems, and stay connected as a family. Instead of searching for “what’s wrong” with the family, we will help you to re-focus on “what’s right” with your family and find ways to build greater commitment, grace, empowerment, and intimacy into your most important relationships.

Happy Family

Pre-Marital Counseling

Our pre-marital counseling is a 5 session program. In the PREPARE/ENRICH program, couples will receive a comprehensive assessment on the various aspects of their relationship including communication, conflict resolution, partner style and habits, finances, leisure activities, sexual relationship, family and friends, roles and responsibilities, and spiritual beliefs. Our premarital program helps couple’s to prepare for the challenges of marital adjustment by better understanding their strengths and targeting growth areas in the relationship.

Couple/Marital Counseling/Marriage Therapy

We offer couple counseling for a variety of issues including:

  • Infidelity/trust issues
  • When one partner has a chronic illness
  • Stress management
  • Partner struggling with a psychiatric disorder
  • Communication difficulties
  • Gridlocked conflict
  • Pornography
  • Couples affected by substance abuse
  • Couples growing apart
  • Couples in later life
  • Gay & Lesbian couples
  • Financial issues
  • Spirituality/Religious issues
  • Christian couple counseling
  • “Marital Hospice” (see our blog for more details)

Family Counseling

Our family counseling services are offered at an outpatient level for a variety of issues including:

  • Behavioral or emotional issues of a family member
  • Navigating separation or divorce as a family
  • Co-parenting for difficult divorce
  • Step down from family-based mental health services or inpatient hospitalization
  • Grief and loss issues
  • Parenting issues
  • Family conflict
  • Blended family adjustment
  • Single parent family adjustment
  • Families in transition

Pre-Blended Family Counseling

Pre-blended family counseling (PBFC) is designed for families who are either approaching remarriage or cohabitation and who have a child/children from prior relationships. Our aim is to help families forecast many of the obstacles of blended family life and to proactively find solutions to common problems related to family adjustment. Research suggests that it can take blended families up to 7 long years to adapt to the changes within the family. We believe that helping families prepare on the front end of family integration is a smart option that will help empower these families to be more successful. It is our goal that PBFC can be for blended families what pre-marital counseling has become for engaged couples, but instead of providing care just for the couple, we are supporting growth and adjustment for the whole family. We have developed our own brand of PBFC which we call: STEP UP. STEP UP integrates components of Structural and Brief Solution-focused therapy, Gottman method couple therapy, and training in spiritual coping and stress management.