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The Short Version: Licensed Clinical Social Worker Beth Sonnenberg runs a private psychotherapy and life coaching practice in Livingston, New Jersey. Though she works with everyone from teens to seniors, her specialty is talking to individuals going through a relationship crisis or major life transition. Most of the time, that means she’s lending her support to people who are experiencing or considering a divorce. Beth’s relationship management services focus on helping her clients recognize and solve harmful patterns in their relationships in productive and proactive ways. Since 1998, she has guided individuals and couples by providing a nonjudgmental perspective on personal issues. Whether you’re feeling stuck in your studies, your career, or your relationship, you can book a confidential session with Beth Sonnenberg to explore your options and decide where you want your life to go.
Beth Sonnenberg grew up in a stable home environment with happily married parents. She had a great model for how to cultivate and maintain a loving relationship — her parents have now been together 51+ years — and so she felt capable of forming strong bonds and making the life she wanted for herself.
However, she knew that not everyone is so fortunate.
“I was always interested, from a very young age, in other people’s lives and problems,” she said. “My psychology classes were the ones I enjoyed most.”
After earning her bachelor’s degree in psychology and communications, she attended Columbia University and earned her master’s degree in clinical social work.
In addition to her coursework, she worked in multiple inpatient psychiatric hospitals, partial hospital programs, and outpatient therapy centers in some of New York City’s best hospitals. She treated patients in all times of serious life crises. She saw people experiencing manic episodes, psychotic breaks, and provided counseling after a failed suicide attempt.
Beth told us her work with people with serious illnesses ultimately helped her when it came time for her to form her own private practice in 2002. “I think, in order to have a successful private practice, you have to see people at their worst,” she said.
What began as informal follow-up sessions with her hospitalized patients has become a full-blown outpatient therapy practice for individuals and couples who wanted to continue working with her while facing an array of personal and emotional issues. Her specialty is in relationship management. Beth works with young singles who are starting new relationships as well as middle-aged individuals considering divorce or having extra-marital affairs.
Beth’s nonjudgmental and flexible approach to therapy gives clients a framework from which to discuss and solve their problems.
“It’s just me asking the tough questions and having people look at relationships from different perspectives,” she said. “Trying to give them perspective is the key.”
Beth sees people in all stages of life — from high schoolers dealing with parental conflict and social issues to divorcees dealing with online dating. She opens her door to anyone who wants to talk about the important relationships in their lives. Whether you’re wondering if it’s time to propose to a longtime sweetheart or you’re considering divorcing after decades of marriage, you can rely on Beth to assist you through your soul-searching journey.
According to Beth, most of her clients choose to go to therapy because they want an outside opinion and unbiased advice, and that’s something she’s only too happy to provide. Her private conversations with newly divorced singles or unhappy spouses can lead to dramatic shifts in how they view their lives and choose to act. She works primarily with singles but will also take on couples if she thinks both are willing to do the work to make the relationship thrive. Both individuals have to be invested in the change, she said, or it’s never going to work.
“It’s really helpful to have some extra support and to have an unbiased viewpoint to help you through major life transitions.” — Beth Sonnenberg, LCSW
Though a majority of clients arrange in-person appointments at her office, Beth is willing to talk to her clients over the phone and via FaceTime or Skype if need be. Sometimes this is necessary for someone who is going away for college, business travel, or who has a busy work schedule and can’t get away from the office. Beth said she’ll often give clients in crisis her phone number so they can text to set up an emergency phone session. Sessions typically last 45 minutes and occur about once a week.
“My work doesn’t get boring because every day of every week it’s different,” she said. “It’s always interesting from week to week. Nothing surprises me; I’ve heard it all.”
During her sessions, Beth gets straight to the point and asks thought-provoking questions about her client’s life, decisions, and goals. Sometimes she dissuades someone from divorce by pointing out specific consequences of the decision, such as having to sell a house, go back to work, or spend less time with their children, while other times she helps people who are having extra-marital affairs realize what is missing from the relationship that they strayed from.
“I’m certainly not going to just tell people what they want to hear,” she said. “It’s important to ask questions and help people look at themselves through other people’s eyes.”
When you’ve just gotten divorced, it’s easy to feel socially isolated from your friends and even your family members. Your whole life is changing, and that may be hard for others to understand — especially if your social group is made up primarily of married couples, who are with their husband and children every weekend. Divorced adults have to adapt to new challenges in life, and sometimes that necessitates forming new friendships with people who are in similar situations.
Beth wants to make it easier for single and divorced women to meet one another. For years, she saw her patients struggling to overcome the unexpected loneliness of divorce, and now she’s doing something about it. Beth has started organizing a Single Social Network to give women a place where they can foster friendships and find support from their peers.
About once a month, Beth has hosted a low-key event where all single women feel welcome. One event involved lunch with a panel of experts, including a financial adviser, a dating coach, and a real estate agent. Another event got singles moving at a free spin class
“It’s like a new moms group,” Beth said. “You’re in a new phase of life, and you need to be with people who are in the same boat.”
Beth said the events have been remarkably successful at prompting women to establish new friend groups, have more fun in the social scene, and get advice from each other about their experiences. She hopes to grow the Single Social Network into other cities in the coming years.
“Singles can share their stories and give advice and support to one another at the event,” Beth said. “It’s been great. A lot of women have made some new friendships and now have someone to grab a drink with or meet for a movie over the weekend.”
Beth doesn’t just talk the talk when it comes to relationships; she has actually walked the walk as well. She started dating the man she would marry 25 years ago, and they’re about to celebrate their 18th wedding anniversary. She approaches relationships and marriage with a positive attitude because she understands what it takes to make it work in the long run. Her upbeat approach is inspirational for singles and couples who are feeling unsure about their futures.
“When I come see Beth each week, I feel like I am talking to a friend,” said a client from Little Falls, New Jersey. “Regardless of the subjects we discuss, I always feel comfortable and safe.”
It can be really helpful to have someone like Beth listening to your worries and providing insight to your problems as you face a major turning point in life, including going through a divorce or recovering after an affair.
“Beth truly cares about her patients, and I always feel great after a visit with her.” — One of Beth’s clients
“My husband and I were having a difficult time adjusting after the birth of our daughter. Beth helped us identify our personal triggers for frustration and helped us learn to better communicate our needs in the marriage. She is smart and professional, while still being relatable and being easy to open up to,” said another client.
Beth isn’t afraid to get real with her patients during sessions. Her mission is to guide them toward a happy and healthy state of mind, and that sometimes entails telling them some hard truths about themselves.
“I’m warm, but I think I’m good at calling people out on their problematic thinking or patterns of behavior,” she said. “I’m able to tell them some stuff that’s hard to hear from their peers or people they love, but I say it in a nice and compassionate way, so it’s easier to digest.”
Many individuals facing relationship troubles or other significant problems have relied on Beth Sonnenberg to provide an unbiased and knowledgeable perspective on what’s going on beneath the surface and what they can do to fix it. During confidential sessions, Beth asks difficult and probing questions to prompt her clients to think about their issues, opinions, and goals in new and enlightening ways.
Her insights can be useful to people in the midst of all sorts of challenging circumstances. Over the years, Beth’s steadfast support through tough life transitions has helped singles stay hopeful in the dating scene and couples reignite the spark in their marriages or reconnect after trust has been broken.
“The general idea is helping couples compromise,” she said. “If both people feel they’re getting a little bit of their way and meeting in the middle, there’s not as much conflict.”