about my work

Therapist Referrals & Great Relationship Coaches

I’ve been fortunate to meet so many incredible providers over the years I wanted to share some of their information here for anyone who wants support for their mental health, and personal or professional growth.

Of course, I am taking new clients, but I am also not the right provider for every client in every situation. If you want or need help I recommend auditioning a few different folks to see who’s style, training, and expertise feels like the best fit for you.

If you want to work with me, contact me here for a free consultation to see if my work is a fit for you. And here are some other incredible folks I recommend talking with.

You can also find great providers on Portland Therapy Center or TherapyDen.com’s listings.


Changes Coming to My Coaching Practice

Hello!

I'm writing this note to update all of you readers about some changes in my practice this spring. 

As many of you know, I am expecting a baby this summer and plan to take time away from seeing clients July-August of this year.  However, due to an unexpected personal change, my in-person practice is moving out of state even sooner, on May 1, 2019 (my family is all healthy- don’t worry, it’s an exciting change). 

I am still seeing clients in my NE Portland office until May 1, 2019.  If you'd like to meet in person (even for a one session check-in), please reply to this email so I can be sure to get you on the schedule. 

After May 1, I am still open to supporting you in a variety of ways. I will list them below. Even if you never sign up for a program or meet with me please know I am available to offer resources and referrals anytime. You can reach me using this email (gina@ginasenarighi.com), you can find me on facebook here or here, on instagram, or on either of my websites (nonmonogamous.com or ginasena.com). 

I am grateful to all of you for being a part of my professional journey in Portland.  It’s been such a blessing to get so much community support for the work I do, and so have so many incredible local people share their intimate lives with me.

You are all in my heart no matter where I live or practice, Gina

ONGOING COACHING/COUNSELING OPTIONS

ONLINE COACHING & COUNSELING

First, I will continue to see clients (as I have been) online using Zoom video conferencing services until July and again in the fall. 

IN PORTLAND, OREGON

If you'd like to get support from a Portland-area provider there are several I highly respect listed here. I'm also open to hopping on the phone for a quick chat to help you connect with a provider if you have specific questions about finding someone who can meet your unique needs. 

 

COACHING FOCUS AREAS

SOLO RELATIONSHIP COACHING

I will continue supporting folks as individual clients who are interested in changing relationship patterns. These hour-long sessions have been instrumental for lots of folks who are just starting dating after a break up, who need help asking for what they need in partnerships and/or who are thinking about ending a relationship.

PREMARITAL COUNSELING
I am still offering premarital/pre-commitment counseling online if you or anyone you know might be interested in focused support around a shared life commitment. These sessions have been helpful for folks who want an integrity-fueled plan for the future without a specific religious dogma attached.

SHOULD WE BREAK UP?

I'm also still offering discernment counseling online for folks considering breaking up who want to process that in a compassionate way. Some people call this “conscious uncoupling.” Whatever you call it, think of this an a kind or friendly alternative tho the way most people view breakups. Feel free to refer folks you know who might be interested here.

NON-MONOGAMY, POLYAMORY & OPEN RELATIONSHIPS

I still support tons of people considering consensual non-monogamy and/or practicing it for a long time. I’ve helped thousands of clients decide if, when, and how consensual non-monogamy is a fit for them. Read more here.

SEXUALITY COUNSELING FOR PASSION, INTIMACY & DESIRE

I’ll be finishing up my Sex Counseling credential later this year. This has meant helping people overcome common sexual dysfunctions in relationships and in long-term relationships overcoming desire fatigue.  Info on that can be found here.

WORKSHOPS & EVENTS

FREE MONTHLY MASTERCLASS

I've been hosting a monthly free relationship tune-up call every month for the last year.  You can find information about them here.  Please sign up right away if you're interested, they tend to fill quickly.

RETREATS

POLYAMORY 101 RETREAT

I'll still host my Polyamory 101 Annual Retreat in Portland (and soon I'll have an online version).  You can sign up to be invited here.

LESBIAN COUPLES RETREAT

I also have a Lesbian Couples Retreat in the works for later this year. Sign up here to be invited.

ONLINE CLASSES

BOUNDARIES

I teach a course in Healthy Boundaries for relationships a few times each year.  If you're into it, check it out here.

JEALOUSY

I offer an online course on Jealousy Management a couple of times a year.  You can sign up to get notified when registration opens here.

TRUST TUNE-UP

Finally, this year I am offering my Trust Tune-Up e-course in a few weeks. You can sign up to be invited here.

FREE RELATIONSHIP RESOURCES ONLINE

FREE CONVERSATION STARTERS

I send a weekly set of conversation starters for couples via email and if you are not already receiving it you may want them, you can sign up to get those here.  I also send this list weekly-ish updates with free worksheets, reflection guides, and relationship resource recommendations.

PODCAST

My podcast Swoon launched last week. We'll share information on sex and intimacy and action steps for relationships there once per week. It's available on any of your favorite podcast platforms (I'd love it if you left a review).

BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

There are lists of my favorite books on relationships shared online here and right here.  I HIGHLY recommend them as supports even when you're in a good phase (some may be familiar to you already).

FREE TOOLS AND RESOURCES ONLINE

I offer a free relationship resource toolbox you are welcome to use anytime (save this link) filled with worksheets, guides, videos, and reading materials. I also have one tailored for non-monogamous and sex-positive relationships. If you haven’t already signed up for access you can do so here and here.

BLOG ARTICLES

Finally, I have two related blogs you can check in on anytime full of advice, resources, and ideas about relationships, communication, and intimacy.

Read them at nonmonogamous.com/blog or ginasena.com/blog today!


Authenticity in Relationships

Way back when I first moved to Portland and was re-starting my private practice, I watched Brene Brown's talk on authenticity and self-worth and it fundamentally shifted my life and my work with clients. 

I felt validated in my work and life's purpose like I had never experienced before.  Her speech talks about vulnerability, truth, and our deep longing for connection in relationships.  I'd been wrestling with all three in my own life- and had been helping others with those for years but had never heard them connected to shame before. 

I watched this video and dove headfirst into a new identity as a shameslayer- helping clients, friends, and myself show up and be seen in the world with authenticity and courage.  I trained with Brene that spring and have been bringing her work to retreats, groups, and clients ever since. 

If you're thinking about working with me, you're going to want to watch this video to help understand some of the foudnations of my work with clients.  

I have a few openings for new clients at the end of this month.  Let me know what you think of the video in a free consultation.  I'd love to chat with you!

WATCH HERE:


relationship coach | portland healthy relationships | positive psychology and relationships | happy marriage

Gina Senarighi, MA, MS, CPC is a retired couples counselor and sex therapist, now full-time retreat coach, workshop facilitator, and author.  Her twenty years working in communication and positive psychology she has transformed diverse relationships across the country. 

Her uniquely non-judgmental, inclusive approach to couples work puts even the most concerned participants at ease.  She's not your average sit-and-nod supporter- she'll hold hope even when it's hard and always help you grow.

Call for a consultation to see how she can help you deepen connection, communicate effectively, and passionately reignite your relationship.

Are We Gonna Make It?

"Are we gonna make it?"

The number one thing I get asked by clients, “Are we gonna make it?” can be a tough question to answer.  The real important answer to this question will come less from me and more from the actual members of the couple.  Do YOU think you will make it?  But that’s not why they’re asking.  They’re asking because they’ve hired me as a consultant.  They're paying me to assess what they’ve got as assets and where they need to improve in order to move forward.

Are you asking yourself now?

Here are a few questions you can ask yourself at home to start your own self-assessment. 

  • Do you know your partner's life dreams?  Do they know yours?
  • Does your partner fascinate you?  Do you captivate your sweetheart?
  • Is your sex life satisfying?
  • Are you able to resolve conflicts with humor and respect?  Are you able to agree to disagree?
  • Have you been happy, sad, and mad in front of your partner?  Have they with you?

If you answered no, or are even a little unsure about any of these it might be time for a tune up.   Any good business partnership renegotiates their contract from time to time.  Why don’t we view life partnerships with the same maintenance strategy?  Just coming to see a counselor or coach doesn't mean it's the end, it, think of it as contracting with a consultant.

Are you going to make it?  I hope so and I'm happy to help if you choose.

Five Questions to Create Your Elevator Pitch

I read a blog recently that outlined "how to create your elevator pitch" and have been spending a lot of time thinking about how to clarify my interests to help clients find me.  I have always been a dabbler, multiple interests and talents pulling me in seemingly different directions.  Marie Forleo calls me a "multifaceted entrepreneur."  Which has led to a rich and fulfilling life filled with wide-ranging adventures.  I don't regret this life at all, and of course my varied travels and studies influence my work.

So how do I explain that quickly to potential clients and referral sources?

I don't.

It's not that the range isn't important when connecting, but in that 60-second elevator speech conversation or intro, it's just not helpful.  Just as it has left me unclear about my expertise, too much information leaves my contacts confused.

I have spent these first two weeks of 2013 meditating on my professional purpose in private practice using these five questions to guide me.  Maybe they can help you.

1.  Who are you?

2.  What do you do?

3.  How do you do your work?

4.  Why do you do this work?

5.  Who do you love to work with?

I've used these questions to guide coaching sessions with new clients in the new year and have had great results helping awesome people find clarity.  One client said it renewed his creative energy and a fabulous couple said it helped them understand each other better.

I recommend writing the questions on large blank pieces of paper.  Read them aloud and then sleep on them.  Take a walk.  Let your mind wander.  Come back to it later and without censor or critique write the words and phrases that come to mind (I did the writing for one client while he spoke, which helped him process faster).  There are no wrong answers.  Let them rest again, and come back again to refine them into phrases or sentences that resonate with you.  You'll know when you find your fit.  I'm happy to help if you'd like.

I'll be posting pictures on my Facebook page soon so you can see the wonderful ways people have made this process their own.  I look forward to hearing about how this works for you!

Top Ten Reasons to See a Relationship Coach

Relationship coaching helps couples reflect and take intentional action to create relationships filled with happiness, connection, and shared vision.  It is a little different from couples counseling, only in that it is very forward thinking, positive, and action-oriented.  I blend counseling and coaching in my work

There are many reasons couples decide to start working with me.  Here are ten of the most common:

1.  Sweethearts considering marriage.

Pre-marital counseling and coaching is some of my favorite work.  You know you want to be together, now, the question is, HOW do you want to be together?  What kind of future do you want to build?  How will you navigate life changes with grace?  Working with a relationship coach can help you get clear about the life you want to build as a committed couple.

2.  Keeping the relationship fulfilling long term.  

You have probably heard me say it already, every relationship needs a tune up from time to time.  Keeping your relationship a priority amid the many responsibilities and obligations that come up can be difficult.  It's not uncommon to lose a little luster over time.   Couples coaching can help provide time to re-assess how to sustainably keep the home fires burning for a long long time.

3.  Getting back together after taking a break.

Little known fact: LOTS of couples break up and get back together.  When you are deciding to return to partnership it can be really helpful to work with a relationship coach to both repair any gaps from your break, and work on forgiveness.  Your relationship coach will also help you determine how you want to move forward together.

4.  Thinking about becoming parents.

Parenting is an amazing journey, but it isn't for everyone and co-parenting doesn't come naturally.  Who do you want to be as a parent?  Is parenting something you both really want?  When you and your partner are ready to start thinking about a family it can be a good time to bring in a coach as a facilitator to help guide you through the decision-making and planning processes.

5.  Starting a business with your life partner.  

So we know you and your partner have great ideas and can manage projects together well (that home remodel looks beautiful!) but are you ready to start a business together?  And if you are, how will you maintain your relationship strength as your business dreams come true?  Contact a relationship coach to help you as a consultant for your business partnership when it's also our romance partner!

6.  Opening your relationship to non-monogamy.

Polyamory and open relationships are much more common than people think.  However, because we have strong cultural taboos around talking about open relationships, most couples are without support as they begin conversations about openness.  You can find poly-friendly relationship coaches and couples or marriage counselors in the national Poly-friendly Professionals or the Open List.  You can find me there too!

7.  Adventuring in new sexual or sensual territory.

Dan Savage coined the phrase GGG meaning one should strive to be good in bed, giving "equal time and equal pleasure" to one's partner, and game "for anything—within reason."for things sexually and sensually.  For some people meeting this GGG standard is not easily done.  Working with a relationship coach or couples counselor could help you and your partner explore new sensual connections and be even stronger together in the bedroom (and wherever else these adventures take you).  Check the Kink-Aware Professionals national listing for a sex-positive (non-judgmental) provider near you.

8.  Repairing a relationship after an affair.  

An affair doesn't necessarily mean you have to end your relationship.  Many couples decide to stay together.  However, repairing from a violation of trust can require professional support.  Contact a relationship counselor or couples coach to help you rebuild connection and trust and decide if staying together is the best option for you.

9.  Re-imagining the relationship after things go blah.

Lets face it, relationships take work and it is not easy to razzle-dazzle your partner every day (nor is it a realistic expectation).  Work with a relationship coach or couples counselor to help reignite that spark and fascination that brought you together in the first place.

10.  Deciding to move in together.

I have worked with many couples deciding if and when to move in together.  Many people struggle with questions of balance  privacy, space, and independence during these conversations.  It can be very helpful to have a neutral party's support and guidance as you transition to or from living together.

The bottom line is, if you are going to stay together for a long time, you are going to weather many changes to your life and relationship.  Relationship coaching is like a vitamin boost for your relationship's health during times of stress and transition.  Why not give it a try?

Vulnerability and Connection: Why I Love Brene Brown

I received the best compliment I have received in my counseling practice this week.  A client said, “Coming to see you is like watching Brene Brown’s TED Talk.  I always leave here inspired and walking in integrity.  You are just like her!”

If you don’t know, Brene Brown is one of my favorite authors and speakers.  She’s a researcher in Texas who studies shame, vulnerability, authenticity, and connection.  You can imagine she has had a LARGE impact on my work.  I have reread some of her books multiple times and suggest her TED Talks more than any others to clients.

What’s really great about Brene, greater than any of the other scholars I read to inform my practice, is that she truly walks her talk.  Throughout her writing she gives examples related to her own personal story, modeling the honesty and vulnerability she is requesting of the reader.  Her writing is beautiful to read and gives TONS of opportunities for self-reflection and examples to help you create a better life.  You may also be interested in her books, The Gift of Imperfection and Daring Greatly.

If you aren’t ready to commit to a book, I strongly recommend watching one of her talks.  In this one, she covers some of her research on vulnerability.  Vulnerability is essential to having connected authentic meaningful relationships.  She’s also a beautiful storyteller.

[ted id=1042]

You can see why I was flattered when compared to her, right?  Here are a few of my favorite highlights from her talk:

  •  “Connection is why we are here.  It is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives.” And, vulnerability is the key to connection.
  • You can’t selectively numb feelings.  To numb hard feelings is to turn off joy, love, passion, connection.
  • The people who have a sense of worthiness and a strong sense of love and belonging believe they are worthy of love and belonging.  This was the only factor that set them apart from others who had strong connection.
  • Children come into the world hardwired for struggle.  Struggle is in our DNA, and the greatest gift we can give our kids is not protection from struggle but the confidence that they can fail and stumble and still be worthy of love.

Online Dating Advice: Are Online Dating Sites Worth Trying?

Dear Gina, Are online dating sites worth trying?  Why or why not?  - DK

Hi DK!  Thank you for asking.  My answer is a solid: YES!  I have met so many strong couples and fabulous friendships that started online!  I think online dating is great for many reasons but before you put yourself out there its important you get clear, get honest, and get open.   Here’s a little prep work to do to be sure you are a great online dater:

First, online dating is great because it forces you to get very clear about what you are expecting and hoping for in your next dating adventure.  You HAVE to put something in writing, so it forces you to become more self-aware of your desires.

Remember to be realistic and honest about what people can expect from you.  Do you want a long-term romance, or are you open to new friendships?  Are you interested in affection, adventure, stability, conversation, one night stands or some combination of all of these?  Take a minute to reflect about the ideal outcome and draw or write out all of what you see.  Then pare it down to fit the parameters of the site you’re using.

Online dating also helps you reflect about who you are in a dating relationship and what impression you want to make.  What do you bring to this relationship?  Take a minute and write down ten positive comments you have received from friends or past partners.  What is so great about dating you?  Then, before you move online ask yourself what are your ten deal breakers (ten things you know right now will end a romance for you) and write them down.  Now look at the two, can you commit to offering those great qualities to your new connection?  Use these lists to form the “What I am Looking For” section of your online profile.

Finally, even if you don't meet the right person you are going to make new friends, business contacts, and you will see more of the city.  If you have a bad date it’s not the end of the world, maybe that's just not the right connection right now.  Treat it as an opportunity to learn to be a better dater yourself.  Take note of great restaurants, awesome conversation topics, and creative romantic happenings even if they don't work on the first try: dating is an experiment and it is practice in compassionate human relationship building for when you do meet someone you really connect with.

Remember:

  1. Be crystal clear about your expectations
  2. Be honest about who you are
  3. Be open to whatever learning and opportunities may arise

So get out there and try it out!  If you’re new to dating let me know how it goes below.  Or, if you have tried online dating share one of your successes in the comments section!

What to Watch Out for: Three Signs Your Relationship Needs Work

 

So many couples wait until they have done MAJOR damage before coming in to see me in the office.  Statistics show that most couples finally make an appointment six months after symptoms of dissatisfaction become a problem. Here are a few symptoms to watch out for so you can get support sooner rather than later.

Have you been wondering if your relationship needs work?  Consider the warning signs, and make an appointment with me for a free consultation to talk more.

  1. Negativity – Continued negative contact over time makes it difficult to repair damage and return to sweetness together
    1. Resentment -- Built up (often unspoken) feelings of negativity toward your partner
    2. Criticism – Blame and critique of one another instead of solution finding
    3. Contempt – Attacks on each other’s character
  2. Rigidity – Remaining open to the influence of your partner instead of becoming inflexible is critical to long-term relationship health
    1. Defensiveness – Becoming defensive hearing your partner
    2. Stonewalling – Withholding affection, ignoring or distancing from your partner
  3. Turning Away – While it is important to have independent time and space, turning away from your partner when they are requesting help or support can decrease the longevity of your relationship significantly
    1. Invalidation—denying the validity of one partner’s experience or feelings
    2. Avoidance or Withdrawal – Physically or emotionally withdrawing from one another completely

If you have noticed any of these signs and wish to remedy your relationship, couples counseling or relationship coaching may be right for you. Remember, every relationship needs a tune-up now and again, just don’t wait so long you have to call AAA from the side of the highway!