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The Short Version: Esther Boykin is a trained marriage and family therapist with a deep understanding of what actions sustain fulfilling relationships. In her Washington, DC, private practice, she coaches singles and couples to communicate in healthier ways and correct negative dating patterns. Her goal is to make therapeutic assistance more accessible to everyone, so she’s also developed a comprehensive array of events and resources for couples in the US, Canada, and the UK. At fun dinner events and weekend retreats, Esther pools the knowledge of relationship experts and offers easy-to-understand tips in a casual setting. Whether they’re listening to her podcasts or attending her workshops, relationship-minded clients feel motivated by Esther B.’s relatable disposition and actionable advice to change their love lives for the better.
Dinner parties foster an intimate atmosphere where adults mingle over good food, good wine, and good conversation. It’s a night of laughter and indulgence. And, in Washington, DC, one industrious therapist has turned dinner parties into an educational event as well. Because people are more receptive to new ideas when wine is involved.
At her signature Conversations Off the Couch dinner parties, Esther Boykin pairs a fun evening out with sage relationship advice. As couples dig into a gourmet dinner, guest relationship experts dig into issues of vulnerability, romance, and commitment. The personal, low-key setting makes weighty topics feel lighter and therapeutic work seem not as intimidating to couples.
Esther B., a licensed marriage and family therapist, seeks to bring professional therapy and actionable relationship advice to average people across the nation. From a young age, she knew she wanted to work with couples and devoted herself to studying what makes real-life relationships tick.
Today, Esther is the Founder and CEO of Group Therapy Associates, a private psychotherapy and coaching agency in Washington, DC. She runs multiple workshops and events to engage the community in meaningful personal discussions and encourage couples to seek professional guidance in matters of the heart.
“Our relationships are foundational to everything that makes life happy and fulfilling,” she said. “I have a passion for it. I went to school because I really wanted to understand the dynamics that happen when people are in relationships with each other.”
Whether their coaching sessions take place over Skype, by phone, or in person, Esther’s clients benefit from a curious, mindful, and knowledgeable support system. Most of her clients tend to be well-educated people in their 30s and 40s. These relationship-minded adults enroll in private coaching sessions because they want to flip the switch and maintain a healthy partnership. They’re eager to learn and grow from professional coaching.
Esther’s clinical background as a therapist gives her an investigative outlook on dating and relationship coaching. She truly listens to her clients and digs deep into what’s holding them back in their personal relationships. “My coaching clients educate me about who they are and what they want,” she said, “and I come up with concrete action plans for them.”
The skilled marriage and family therapist is adept at giving pointed advice and motivating couples to make lasting changes in their lives. During in-depth sessions, she asks open-ended questions to facilitate self-exploration and problem solving. Her compassionate assistance often leads men and women to change their mindsets so they can change their experiences.
You can get a sneak peek of Esther’s expert coaching by taking the 14-Day Lovers Challenge, a free email subscription promoting strategies for deep intimacy and lasting relationships. It’s like her private practice in bite-size form.
“When I’m coaching, I’m mindful that we need to be developing concrete goals. It’s not meant to be therapy,” she said. “I’m really guiding them to their relationship goals.”
What’s impressive about Esther’s couples counseling practice is the sheer variety of services for couples. She dresses her therapeutic advice up in all different packaging to appeal to introverts and extroverts, newlyweds and divorcees, and everyone in between. Her special events, workshops, and seminars give couples plenty of helpful options, making therapy more accessible to everyone.
Under the slogan “Therapy is not a dirty word,” Esther B. organizes engaging Q&A Happy Hours where couples can ask questions of local psychotherapists. The event combines the informational resources of a panel of psychology professionals with the lighthearted zeal of a cocktail party to create a truly unique setting for learning and growing.
“All we do for two hours is answer people’s questions,” Esther explained. “We offer expert advice in a fun, casual, and low-pressure setting.”
Inspired by the success of her Conversations Off the Couch events, Esther designed a weekend couples retreats around fine dining, leisure activities, and informational workshops. Couples can immerse themselves in a luxurious setting and dedicate themselves to renewing their commitment, embracing the adventure, and rediscovering romance.
The relationship therapist finds that retreats help couples feel excited, rejuvenated, and confident. It opens their minds to change and enriches their awareness with a new perspective. The Before I Do half-day retreat is designed for engaged couples seeking premarital advice to get their marriage off on the right foot.
If you’re more of a learn-on-your-own type person, you can listen to With That Being Said podcasts while at home or on the go. Esther B. fills the episodes with smart, authentic, and relatable insights from the perspective of trained therapists. Listeners can join the conversation by calling in with personal questions or by sharing an episode with a loved one.
Additionally, Esther’s book “The Date Deck” gives couples ideas to get out of their routines and enjoy date nights done right. The couples therapist makes simple and impactful recommendations to spice up the love life of married couples everywhere.
“After a long week at work, thinking of dinner ideas and keeping up with the kids, it’s great to have a resource available to help keep things fun in my marriage,” Erin H. wrote in a review.
Esther’s creative array of dating and relationship resources have yielded meaningful results in the lives of many people around the world. She has earned high praise from her colleagues as well as her clients.
“I loved working with Esther,” said Kevin Carr, author and dating expert. “She brings a very welcoming and calming presence and just has an uncanny way of getting her point across.”
Those who invest in relationship therapy and follow through on Esther’s love lessons often see immediate dividends in their personal lives. Knowing the inner workings of relationships empowers couples to connect on deeper levels. “Thank you for being real,” one event participant said. “I would have never done this on my own, but I’m so glad that I’m here. You’ve helped me see myself, and our relationship, differently.”
“Esther engages people in a way that encourages you to grow, have fun, and learn how to have healthier relationships.” — Maimah Karmo, Tigerlily Foundation
When we spoke with her, Esther told the story of a former client who came to her after a divorce. The newly single woman had been betrayed by her ex and rebounded into another toxic relationship. Her self-esteem was at an all-time low, and she felt it was impossible for her to have a good relationship.
Esther worked with her for about eight months, talking her through healing past trauma and finding forgiveness so she could move forward. The woman slowly became more willing to put herself out there, and she even joined a dating site (with a little encouragement). At last, a friend set her up with someone who was the right fit, and she’s now in a fulfilling relationship that makes her happy. “The bigger success, to me, is how she felt about herself by the end of our sessions,” Esther said. “She believed in herself again, and that’s everything.”
Helping daters change their mindsets and subsequently change their lives is the name of the game for Esther. She said she has seen so many wall flowers blossom over the years. “With the exception of my children, those successes are my greatest joy,” she said. “It makes me feel like I have a greater purpose in the work I do.”
Conversations Off the Couch isn’t your average dinner party, but it isn’t a straight-up therapy session either. The night offers a hybrid of good times and sound advice. Esther’s innovative dinner parties invite couples to relax and learn in a casual social environment. The evening highlights the relationship insights of trained therapists who, it turns out, are just as approachable and fun-loving as normal people.
Of course, if you prefer more one-on-one assistance, you can always take Esther up on her confidential therapy and coaching sessions. The relationship expert applies her psychological understanding to help people hone their communication skills and build solid foundations for lasting partnerships. Couples can also seek out her down-to-earth advice in podcasts, retreats, and other events. Over the years, she has expanded her influence internationally by hosting open-ended events in the US, Canada, and the UK.
As a whole, Esther’s interactive counseling provides a comfortable place to talk about dating challenges and relationship issues. “The more access people have to therapy, coaching, and other resources, the better success they’ll have in their relationships,” she said. “I love talking about love because it’s at the core of all the things that really matter.”