Dr. James D. Sterling Discusses how Specialists Can Help with Couples Therapy

Dr. James D. Sterling began private practice shortly after obtaining his Doctorate from the University of Chicago. Forty years later, the respected marriage and family therapist is helping New York area families and individuals have happy and productive relationships. As director of the New York Center for Psychotherapy, Dr. James D. Sterling recently celebrated forty years of private practice, a time in which he has helped numerous couples learn to better communicate and develop intimacy and trust in their relationships.

Q: You specialize in couples’ therapy. Do you only treat those issues as they relate to romantic relationships?

  • Dr. James D. Sterling: No. In many instances, the underlying issues in a relationship are more complex.

Q: Such as?

  • Dr. James D. Sterling: If one member of a couple suffers from depression, for instance, that particular issue must be treated first.

Q: Can your practice treat clients suffering from depression?

  • Dr. James D. Sterling: We have a fully qualified staff that can treat a wide variety of psychological and emotional issues, from stress management to eating disorders to depression.

Q: When a couple comes to the New York Center for Psychotherapy, will they be counseled together or separately?

  • Dr. James D. Sterling: It depends on the couple. In some cases, it may make more sense to see a couple together, whereas it may work better for some couples to be seen separately.

Q: What if a couple is on the verge of divorce? Can the New York Center for Psychotherapy save a marriage?

  • Dr. James D. Sterling: In some cases, yes, but it all depends on whether or not both members of the couple are committed to working to repair things. Sometimes the couple simply needs to learn strategies to better communicate and resolve conflicts.

Q: What type of strategies do you employ?

  • Dr. James D. Sterling: Mirroring is a very effective strategy to help couples facilitate communication and put a stop to escalating arguments. Mirroring is a technique developed by Dr. Harville Hendrix, co-creator of the Imago Relationship Therapy and author of the “Getting The Love You Want: A Guide For Couples” and “Keeping The Love You Find: A Personal Guide,” both New York Times best sellers. The technique allows an individual to mirror their spouse’s thoughts and feelings, while their spouse is heard without judgment. In Hendrix’s explanation of the Mirroring Exercise we see that couples need to appoint a sender and a receiver. Hendrix explains, “The sender will share his/her feelings and thoughts about a subject, while the receiver listens quietly. The receiver will then repeat the facts exactly as the sender said them, without expressing his/her own feelings, defensiveness or explanations. Once the sender has approved the statement, the partners will switch roles and repeat the exercise. This strategy opens the lines of communication between partners and achieves validation and empathy.” In his advice article for couples, “Stay in the Canoe and Paddle,” Hendrix stresses the importance of mirroring and the positive effect it can have on communication: “An accurate paraphrase will de-energize the sending partner, contain the situation and lead to bonding rather than polarization.”

Q: How can I find out how the New York Center for Psychotherapy can be of to help my spouse and me?

  • Dr. James D. Sterling: We customize our therapy to each client, so it’s important to call to set up an appointment to determine how we can help you.

Dr. James D. Sterling’s New York Center for Psychotherapy is currently accepting new clients. To make an appointment or to learn more, call Dr. James D. Sterling ’s offices at (212) 348-3925.

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