The Relationship Therapist

Helping individuals and couples improve relationships by working with each person's unique strengths, goals, personality style, and social context.

Helping individuals and couples improve relationships by working with each person's unique strengths, goals, personality style, and social context.

Dr. Stan Tatkin

While the holidays can be wonderful, they also mean added stress and arguments. You might find yourself in between your partner and family. Your impulse might be to not take sides as a way to keep everyone happy, but in reality, that won’t help anyone.

Find a way to take your partner’s side. That doesn’t mean you have to drop your family. It just means, that your partner’s interests come first. If they don’t, you will suffer too.

Love Is Not a Permanent State of Enthusiasm: An Interview with Esther Perel

Love is not a permanent state of enthusiasm. Wisdom from Esther Perel. From the New Yorker Festival, the couples therapist and podcast host discusses infidelity, apologies, and the problem with wedding vows these days.

Dr. Stan Tatkin

Thirds are other people, things, or activities that can draw one person’s attention at the cost of a relationship.

Secure-functioning couples put their relationship above everything else. That doesn’t mean they don’t have lives outside of their relationship, but they don’t allow “thirds” from taking priority over their relationship.

Dr. Stan Tatkin

Look at your partner realistically, not idealistically. You both are perfectly imperfect. As a partner in a secure-functioning relationship, you are vowing to do things for your partner that you couldn’t be paid to do for anyone else.

Their pain is yours to soothe. Their fears are yours to assuage. They are your burden to bear… and love. 😘

Dr. Stan Tatkin

Anyone can seem low-maintenance at a distance. All of us, though, are unpredictable, needy, and sensitive. The more you get to know and invest in a person, the more you'll see their high-maintenance side.

When you’re dating, let go of the urge to find that perfect “chill” partner. They don’t exist.

Dr. Stan Tatkin

The old wisdom that just being in a relationship - ANY relationship - will make you healthier and live longer is not true. A relationship can improve your health, but only when it’s secure. If it’s not, it will be detrimental to your health.

Michelle Obama: Barack And I Went To Marriage Therapy In her new book, the former first lady talks marriage counseling — and disputes the idea that she and Barack Obama are "relationship goals."

Everybody hug now!

The average length of a hug between two people is 3 seconds. But the researchers have discovered something fantastic. When a hug lasts 20 seconds, there is a therapeutic effect on the body and mind. The reason is that a sincere embrace produces a hormone called "oxytocin", also known as the love hormone. This substance has many benefits in our physical and mental health, helps us, among other things, to relax, to feel safe and calm our fears and anxiety. This wonderful tranquilizer is offered free of charge every time we have a person in our arms, who cradled a child, who cherish a dog or a cat, that we are dancing with our partner, the closer we get to someone or simply hold the Shoulders of a friend.

A famous quote by psychotherapist Virginia Satir goes, “We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.” Whether those exact numbers have been scientifically proven remains to be seen, but there is a great deal of scientific evidence related to the importance of hugs and physical contact. Here are some reasons why we should hug::


Oxytocin is a neurotransmitter that acts on the limbic system, the brain’s emotional centre, promoting feelings of contentment, reducing anxiety and stress, and even making mammals monogamous. It is the hormone responsible for us all being here today. You see this little gem is released during childbirth, making our mothers forget about all of the excruciating pain they endured expelling us from their bodies and making them want to still love and spend time with us. New research from the University of California suggests that it has a similarly civilising effect on human males, making them more affectionate and better at forming relationships and social bonding. And it dramatically increased the libido and sexual performance of test subjects. When we hug someone, oxytocin is released into our bodies by our pituitary gland, lowering both our heart rates and our cortisol levels. Cortisol is the hormone responsible for stress, high blood pressure, and heart disease.


Connections are fostered when people take the time to appreciate and acknowledge one another. A hug is one of the easiest ways to show appreciation and acknowledgement of another person. The world is a busy, hustle-bustle place and we’re constantly rushing to the next task. By slowing down and taking a moment to offer sincere hugs throughout the day, we’re benefiting ourselves, others, and cultivating better patience within ourselves.


Affection also has a direct response on the reduction of stress which prevents many diseases. The Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine says it has carried out more than 100 studies into touch and found evidence of significant effects, including faster growth in premature babies, reduced pain, decreased autoimmune disease symptoms, lowered glucose levels in children with diabetes, and improved immune systems in people with cancer.


Hugs strengthen the immune system. The gentle pressure on the sternum and the emotional charge this creates activates the Solar Plexus Chakra. This stimulates the thymus gland, which regulates and balances the body’s production of white blood cells, which keep you healthy and disease free.


Almost 70 percent of communication is nonverbal. The interpretation of body language can be based on a single gesture and hugging is an excellent method of expressing yourself nonverbally to another human being or animal. Not only can they feel the love and care in your embrace, but they can actually be receptive enough to pay it forward to others based on your initiative alone.


Hugging boosts self-esteem, especially in children. The tactile sense is all-important in infants. A baby recognizes its parents initially by touch. From the time we’re born our family’s touch shows us that we’re loved and special. The associations of self-worth and tactile sensations from our early years are still imbedded in our nervous system as adults. The cuddles we received from our Mom and Dad while growing up remain imprinted at a cellular level, and hugs remind us at a somatic level of that. Hugs, therefore, connect us to our ability to self love.


Everything everyone does involves protecting and triggering dopamine flow. Low dopamine levels play a role in the neurodegenerative disease Parkinson’s as well as mood disorders such as depression. Dopamine is responsible for giving us that feel-good feeling, and it’s also responsible for motivation! Hugs stimulate brains to release dopamine, the pleasure hormone. Dopamine sensors are the areas that many stimulating drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine target. The presence of a certain kinds of dopamine receptors are also associated with sensation-seeking.


Reaching out and hugging releases endorphins and serotonin into the blood vessels and the released endorphins and serotonin cause pleasure and negate pain and sadness and decrease the chances of getting heart problems, helps fight excess weight and prolongs life. Even the cuddling of pets has a soothing effect that reduces the stress levels. Hugging for an extended time lifts one’s serotonin levels, elevating mood and creating happiness.


Hugs balance out the nervous system. The skin contains a network of tiny, egg-shaped pressure centres called Pacinian corpuscles that can sense touch and which are in contact with the brain through the vagus nerve. The galvanic skin response of someone receiving and giving a hug shows a change in skin conductance. The effect in moisture and electricity in the skin suggests a more balanced state in the nervous system – parasympathetic.
Embrace, embrace with your heart.~~

art: Dorina Costras

Dr. Stan Tatkin

Being in love doesn't necessarily mean you have a secure-functioning relationship. When I talk about secure-functioning relationships, I mean ones that are are fully collaborative, supportive, and based on fairness, justice and sensitivity for each other.

The PACT Institute

Why should couples touch base throughout the day?

Consistent contact is an important way to maintain secure-functioning relationships.

Both partners benefit from the feeling of being tethered to another human being they know will always care for them. Frequent contact helps foster that feeling of support and connectedness.

A simple thing to recommend to your couples is to text each other a selfie or a brief message throughout the day, rather than saving all communication for when they see each other next.

Dr. Stan Tatkin

You can’t learn how to be a good partner in a cave. You can only learn this through practice. You have to learn and fail and learn again.

If you wait until you “love yourself” before allowing yourself to fall in love, you’ll never feel ready to start a relationship. Take a risk. Learn to love yourself as you allow someone else to love you too.

How to Merge Your Finances Without Getting Divorced

"Merging your money with another person isn’t just a financial move, it’s also an emotional one." How did you and your partner do this? Or do you keep some things separate? Becoming a homeowner is complicated enough on its own, but for me, it was an emotionally tough process as well. When I contacted lenders, they only wanted to talk to my husband. When I sent the down…

3 Daily Rituals That Stop Spouses from Taking Each Other for Granted - The Gottman Institute

Do you feel like you and your spouse take each other for granted? Here are some ways to rectify this! Daily rituals keep the sense of connection strong in marriage and assure that romance, affection, and appreciation are a part of your married life every day.

Does emotional cheating mean my relationship is over? | Human Practices & Relationships

Does emotional cheating end a relationship? No, but it certainly means that the relationship’s safety and security system is broken. One of you is not fully strapped in for the ride. Infidelity

Taking care of your relationship - Dr. Foojan Zeine interviews Dr. Stan Tatkin

Taking care of your relationship podcast with Stan Tatkin, creator of PACT. Taking Care of your Relationship - In this segment of the Innervoice show, Dr. Foojan Zeine interviews Dr. Stan Tatkin, A Clinician, Author, Professor at UCLA, Founder of PACT Institute. A dialogue about ways to assess the strengths of the relationship a...

How do childhood family relationships affect adult relationships? | Relationship Challenges

How do our experiences as children affect our intimate relationships as adults? We all come from somewhere. That somewhere establishes many things about us, including how we relate to others. Some family cultures put relationships

A Single Guy Quit His Job and Spent a Year Interviewing Couples: This is What He Discovered

Learn about love from those who are good at it: What can we learn about loving someone from those that are doing it best?

How To Deal With Your Spouse's Constant Criticism (& Get To The Underlying Problem)

Do you feel attacked or criticized by your partner? Get to the bottom of what's going on to understand why this hurtful behavior is happening and how to respond: You don't have to just accept it or be angry.

Relationship Expert Esther Perel on How Couples Make It Work Long-Term

What does it take for a couple to stay together and thrive? Esther Perel, one of the world’s highly regarded relationship experts, explains: It takes work, self-awareness, and communication. But that's not all.

Stan Tatkin: What Keeps You and Your Partner Together When the World Pulls You Apart? (Episode 191) | Productive Flourishing

Survive or thrive in a demanding world? Listen to ways to make your relationship much much better! Stan Tatkin is a PACT developer and co-founder of the PACT Institute, and joins me on the show to discuss why couple relationships are so hard, at the same time that they are so great and necessary.

How To Stop Technology & Social Media From Ruining Your Relationship

Is 2018 technology or social media causing problems in your relationship? Here are some answers: Boundaries are healthy — especially when it comes to technology.

#DSF on Sirius XM | Jenny McCarthy's Dirty, Sexy, Funny

Stan Tatkin, creator of PACT--The Psychobiological Approach to Couple Therapy--will be on Jenny McCarthy's podcast on April 24. Should be fun! Listen to Dirty Sexy Funny Sirius XM Stars Channel 109 Weekdays 10 am to 12 pm ET Rebroadcasts: Mon-Fri 4-6 am and 8-10 pm ET Sat 4-6 amSun 9-11 am and 12-2 pm ET View Schedule #DSF on Sirius XM Jenny McCarthy talks about everything from dating, parenting, sex, relationships, pop culture and current...

Wired for Love & Wired for Relationship Retreats - The PACT Institute

I wish I could give one of these retreats to each of you. Life changing. The PACT Institute holds several workshops every year for people looking to incorporate the PACT principles of security, trust, and mutual respect into their relationships. These workshops, which draw from neuroscience and attachment theory models, are designed to help couples … Continue reading ....

Why losing a dog can be harder than losing a relative or friend

Many of the couples I work with are embarrassed to be so attached to their pets. Dogs (and cats) are part of the family. There is no shame in this attachment. Many are embarrassed to publicly show too much grief over the death of a dog. But research has shown just how devastating the loss can be.

The Only 3 Things I Need In A Partner – Kris Gage – Medium

Single peeps, what's on your list for a partner? My list is incredibly short. But it’s also incredibly non-negotiable.

Let Love In | Free Global Summit

Lots to learn from the experts at this free online summit! Spark It! Maintain It! Re-ignite It! How to open your heart again to pick the right man who will love, adore and cherish you. Hosted by Iris Benrubi.

Ten Secrets to a Successful Marriage

Every marriage has love and challenges. These tips help you keep the love alive through the tough times. Here are 10 principles that will help you create and maintain a successful marriage.

Marriage Advice: Relationship Tips to Get the Love You Want | Reader's Digest

Every relationship has its bumps in the road. Check out these awesome tips for rolling through them smoothly. Expert advice and relationship tips on the best ways to form a tighter bond, unlock more happiness, take on tough issues, and keep your marriage solid.

12 Ways To Save Your Marriage

Do any of these relationship challenges sound familiar to you? Relationship advice for common relationship problems — plus how to make your relationship healthy

Guess what? You can both be right and not agree. Really!

Separation: Beginning of the End, or a New Beginning?

Separating from your spouse can infuse new life into your relationship. But tread cautiously! Separation can mark the beginning of the end, but it can also set a struggling marriage on the path to healing.

Rekindling Intimacy

Rekindling your love? Start with the eyes. Meaningful eye contact, even just a glance, is an effective way to build and maintain intimacy with your partner.

How to Save a Marriage – 32 Experts Share Their Best Advice

Have you tried any/all of these marriage saving tips? We asked a panel of relationship experts to share their best piece of advice on how to save a marriage. Read their practical and heartfelt advice now.

Want your business to be the top-listed Clinic in Ashburn?

Click here to claim your Sponsored Listing.




44081 Pipeline Plaza, Suite 225
Ashburn, VA

Opening Hours

Tuesday 08:30 - 17:00
Wednesday 08:30 - 19:00
Thursday 08:30 - 17:00
Friday 08:30 - 19:30
Saturday 08:30 - 12:30
Other Counseling & Mental Health in Ashburn (show all)
This Is My Brave, Inc. This Is My Brave, Inc.
21750 Red Rum Drive, Suite 102
Ashburn, 20147

People sharing stories of living with mental illness through personal essays, songs & poetry. Co-founders Jennifer Killi Marshall & Anne Marie Ames

Family Therapy Center of Northern Virginia, llc Family Therapy Center of Northern Virginia, llc
44081 Pipeline Plz, Ste 225
Ashburn, 20147

Family Therapy Center of Northern Virginia is a family counseling practice that offers counseling services for the entire family. From play therapy to art therapy to traditional talk therapy, we see kids as young as 3, teens, adults, couples & families.

Better Morning Better Morning
44355 Premier Plaza #120
Ashburn, 20147

Adult, Adolescent, Couples, and Addiction Counseling.

Global Wellspring, LLC Global Wellspring, LLC
P.O Box 7
Ashburn, 20147

We offer counseling services and conflict resolution to individuals, families, couples and groups from a Christian perspective.

Insight Into Action Therapy Insight Into Action Therapy
44340 Premier Plz, Ste 230
Ashburn, 20147

Insight Into Action Therapy is an outpatient practice providing Mental Health, Addictive Behaviors Therapy, Couples, Play Therapy including Psychological Evaluations and Medication Monitoring for individuals, couples and families.

John Gingras, MA, LPC John Gingras, MA, LPC
21001 Sycolin Rd, Ste 360
Ashburn, 20147

Licensed Professional Counselor / Psychotherapist with Potomac Psychological Center in Ashburn Virgina

Dr. Jonathan Smith, DC Dr. Jonathan Smith, DC
20925 Professional Plz, Ste 320
Ashburn, 20147

Premier Psychiatry Center Premier Psychiatry Center
44355 Premier Plz Ste 120
Ashburn, 20147

We provide psychiatric treatment for adults, as well as children and adolescents.

Emmaus Family Counseling Center Emmaus Family Counseling Center
20925 Professional Plaza, Suite 320
Ashburn, 20147

Emmaus Family Counseling Center is a provider of quality Christian counseling in Northern Virginia.

Iriya Dance/Movement Therapy & Counseling Services Iriya Dance/Movement Therapy & Counseling Services
44933 George Washington Blvd, Ste 110
Ashburn, 20147

Iriya offers Dance/Movement Therapy Program for All Ages

Ashburn Psychological Services Ashburn Psychological Services
44095 Pipeline Plz, Ste 240
Ashburn, 20147

Psychiatrists, Psychologists and Therapists - serving Northern Virginia - call Ashburn Psychological Services today!