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Short Version: The Counseling Center of Cherry Creek, located in Denver, Colorado, encourages couples to take responsibility for their relationship problems. Jenny Glick founded the practice six years ago to specialize in relationship-focused therapy, and she and her colleagues help clients grow and develop healthier connections. The Center affords clients an improved clarity about their own lives and relationships, while asking them to consider how they may be sabotaging the health of their partnerships.
The Counseling Center of Cherry Creek Founder and Therapist, Jenny Glick, is direct in her approach to couples therapy.
“When we’re in relationships, we need to learn how not to take things personally, and how to self-define,” she said. “We need to learn how to be curious even if we’re angry and hurt. Most people don’t know how to do that, which is why they get stuck. They need to learn how to grow themselves up.”
This idea of “growing clients up” is a principle that Jenny and her colleagues — Cara Allan and Margie Kaems — have built their careers on. Most clients know that they escalate fights or provoke their partners, but they don’t have the tools necessary to develop a healthier dynamic. With straightforward therapy, Jenny and her team help clients find new ways forward.
“I feel like so much of what I do is helping people grow up,” said Jenny. “You say you love your partner, but you mistreat your partner. I love my dog, but I never mistreat her. Love is not the opposite of hate. We toggle between love and hate. We say, ‘I love my partner, as long as they do what I want them to do.’”
Jenny recognized that she could use her counseling skills, the lessons learned through her own 18-year marriage, and her belief in couples-focused strategies to create a unique therapy practice in Denver, Colorado. She found her practice was necessary because many therapists in her area didn’t specialize in couples.
“I have had a lot of couples counseling sessions that weren’t great,” said Jenny. “They will do individual therapy and couples counseling, but they’re not actually trained on how to work effectively with two people in the room — which is a totally different dynamic.”
She explains this distinction between therapists who provide couples therapy and couples therapists.
“It’s the difference between seeing your general practice doctor and seeing your gynecologist,” she said. “When you have something specific to address, you want to see a specialist because that’s what they see all day long.”
The most significant difference that Jenny sees between couples therapy and individual therapy is the impossibility of providing what’s called “unconditional positive regard.” In this practice, common in one-on-one therapy, a therapist validates a client’s feelings. Unconditional positive regard is difficult — if not impossible — in couples therapy.
“When you have two people in the room, I can’t say, ‘That sounds really hard, how do you feel?’” she said. “You would just have a mixture of feelings, which is what they already have at home. They don’t have a path forward.”
Instead, Jenny offers clients methods for improving their understanding of one another. Most clients know they have problems in their relationships, but don’t know how to describe those issues to others.
“I’m non-pathologizing,” Jenny said. “I don’t see stuck places as there being something wrong with the person. When someone is stuck, I see that they need to learn skills.”
Instead of offering strategies common in individual therapy, Jenny asks couples to consider their own complicity in the relationship’s problems — instead of blaming their partners.
“We don’t know how to self-regulate,” she said. “That’s like personal growth. I ask clients to consider, how do I stop behaving like an adolescent and behave like a grown man or woman? The answer is that they shouldn’t take things personally, and instead get curious about their partner and look at their personal responsibility.”
One of the biggest issues Jenny sees in relationships is that couples don’t know how to articulate what they want from their partners, sexually.
“The bulk of our sex therapy work relates to a gap in desire or mismatched desire,” she said. “Someone always wants more than the other person. So, we teach couples about appetite. You don’t take that personally — it’s not about you.”
Instead of getting angry about a partner’s disinterest in sex, Jenny suggests couples view rejection as an opportunity for communication. Many times, one member of the couple doesn’t understand what the other wants.
Jenny asks her clients how they might limit their bedroom happiness.
“I say, ‘How do you make it hard for your partner to want to have sex with you?’” she said. “Maybe you say to her, ‘Hey, do you want to have sex?’ That’s not very inviting. That’s not a good come-on at all. I haven’t warmed up the situation or created any anticipation.”
One reason Jenny thinks so many couples are dissatisfied with their sex lives is that, as children, they don’t learn that sex should be enjoyable. Instead, sex education in the United States mostly focuses on the downsides of sexual activity.
“Our sex ed system in this country is completely failing kids,” Jenny said. “We don’t teach our children about pleasure; we teach them about STDs, pregnancy, and abstinence.”
This failure in sex education has repercussions felt well into adulthood. The problem is particularly prevalent in women, who often don’t know how to prioritize their desires in the bedroom.
“Girls only see the picture of the fallopian tubes and the vaginal canal,” she said. “They don’t learn about orgasm, the clitoris, or pleasure. So, it’s no surprise when we work with women in their 30s, 40s, and 50s who don’t know how to ask for what they want. They don’t know that they can ask for what they want.”
Jenny believes the most significant factor in creating a healthy therapeutic relationship is building strong bonds with her clients.
“Therapy works best when you relate to your client. If you’re authentic and connected with yourself, and you can be nimble in the relationship, clients are satisfied,” she said. “People tend to enjoy working with me because I don’t give people advice, I hold up a mirror and say, ‘This is what I see.’”
Specific, directed couples therapy strategies work, and clients who choose the Counseling Center of Cherry Creek see the results. Jenny describes her role in the positive changes couples make in their lives.
“My job is to help people open their own clarity. I love people and enjoy what I do, and I trust that they know what’s best for them,” Jenny said. “I’m just a human being having human relationships with other people.”