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The Short Version: Mary Kay Cocharo, LMFT has been helping couples in West Los Angeles reconnect for more than 28 years. She works with clients of all ages and relationship stages, whether they’re just starting out or celebrating decades together. Her approach fosters communication and produces more meaningful connections. Through private sessions, intensives, and workshops, she creates a supportive environment where couples feel safe to explore their relationships. Mary Kay is committed to teaching her clients how to build trust and resolve conflicts peacefully.
Mary Kay Cocharo didn’t plan on becoming a couples therapist early on in her career, but during a conversation with the dean of an MBA program she was considering, he asked her, “Are you sure you wouldn’t rather be a psychologist?” That made Mary Kay stop and think.
At the time, she was a professional recruiter, and talking to people was the essence of her career. However, she was more interested in getting to know the candidates than evaluating them for jobs. She enjoyed learning about their lives, histories, belief systems, and what excited them.
Mary Kay came away from that conversation with a recalibrated passion and purpose.
Armed with that new purpose, she entered graduate school. An internship, a fellowship, and two licenses later, she felt drawn to working with couples and families. To that end, she earned a certification in Imago therapy and Encounter-centered Couples Therapy.
For more than 28 years, Mary Kay has used her skills and training to help couples in West Los Angeles find better ways to reconnect and rekindle even the most damaged relationships.
Mary Kay is a therapist who is specially trained to work with couples. And she said there is a distinction between the two areas of expertise.
“A lot of therapists see couples, but few have advanced training to work effectively with them. Some psychotherapy can actually hurt the relationship as the therapist strives to help the two individuals,” she said.
Mary Kay has 28 years of experience and two advanced certifications in therapy for couples that guide her practice. Her first certification came in Imago Relationship Therapy, which is proven to be one of the most effective forms of couples counseling over nearly three decades.
“Using simple tools, the Imago process strengthens your existing relationship and provides you and your partner with the ability to heal your childhood wounds to build joyful, healthful lives together,” Mary Kay said of the process. Mary Kay is also trained in encounter-centered techniques, which help couples create more joyful, connected, and creative relationships.
“My work focuses on the relational space between the couple to make it healthy and sacred,” Mary Kay said. “I incorporate findings from neuroscience about the brain. We know a lot now about what’s going on when people are in love, when they’re getting along, and when they’re arguing. My coaching incorporates this knowledge and helps couples access the right parts of their brains to solve their problems and build the intimacy they crave.”
Mary Kay works with a wide range of clients, from their mid-20s up through their 70s. She also works with couples just starting a life together, those who’ve been together for decades, and everything in between.
“I find that people are motivated to improve the quality of their relationships at any age,” she said.
She meets with private clients for 90 minutes each visit to ensure sessions are productive. Weekly sessions work best for many couples.
“Ongoing sessions allow you to learn to talk about difficult things in a safe, connected setting while being guided through the difficulties in the relationship as they come up.” Mary Kay also said that this scheduled time allows couples to practice what they learn at home so they can fine-tune any glitches that come up along the way.
Mary Kay also offers premarital counseling for couples who want to start their marriage on strong footing. In these four specialized sessions, she focuses on important elements of marriage like lifestyle expectations, support from friends and family, personal habits, conflict resolution, finances, sexuality, and other relevant topics to explore before saying, “I do.” Research also supports premarital counseling, showing that couples who participate in it have a 30% lower divorce rate than those who don’t.
While some couples are more suited to weekly counseling, others prefer a more intensive format. For those people, Mary Kay offers workshops, intensive sessions, and small couples retreats.
“I am particularly excited about the Retreats. I keep them small and intimate so that everyone feels motivated and safe. Everything is taken care of in a 5-star setting so that the participants can enjoy, relax and transform,” she said.
Couples retreats currently take place at a beautiful estate in Montecito, California, nestled in the hills overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Mary Kay chooses five couples for every retreat. Each couple stays in a private bedroom, and meals are prepared on-site by a gourmet chef.
“The work is structured, and each couple works both with me and one of my A-team of assistants. The couples report that they learn from each other, as well as from me, and everyone goes home connected and hopeful.” — Mary Kay Cocharo, LMFT
It’s the perfect setting for reconnecting, but couples aren’t just there to enjoy the scenery; real relationship work gets done on this getaway.
“The work is structured, and each couple works both with me and one of my A-team of assistants,” Mary Kay said. “The couples report that they learn from each other, as well as from me, and everyone goes home connected and hopeful.” Many of the couples form friendships along the way.
One of her events, Start Right — Stay Connected, is an eight-hour Imago workshop designed to provide couples with a solid foundation for their new life together. At the workshop, they focus on communication skills, hot buttons, conflict resolution, removing negativity, and how to keep the romance alive.
Mary Kay also offers private one- and two-day intensives for couples who feel they need immediate, focused time. These are especially beneficial for couples going through loss, betrayal, or who find themselves on the brink of separation. She works with couples to help them find relief from critical issues affecting their relationships and make a plan for resolution.
Mary Kay has helped many couples restore their relationships or deepen them, and many of them rave about the positive impact she has had on their lives.
“Mary Kay’s work with couples is absolutely transformative. In my own relationship, during the short time of the Over the Bridge workshop, my husband and I were able to discover, share, and repair old wounds to create a deeper sense of connection. This workshop is for any couple, old or new, happy, or struggling,” said J.M., a satisfied client.
Mary Kay also relishes the camaraderie and friendships nurtured at her events.
“One of the things I love about the workshops and retreats is the way people make friends and continue their relationships after the weekend. I know of one couple in their late 30s who is in the first years of their marriage who befriended a couple in their mid-70s from the last retreat,” she said.
Mary Kay said she loves her work, and it shows through her passion and her many happy clients. And she said she feels the enormity of how her work affects others.
“It’s powerful. It’s important to know that I’ve helped many individuals and couples over the past 30 years. I believe that we all need better relationships. When we start at home, it spreads to our children and the world,” she said.