Dr. Kristin Schaefer-Schiumo| Manhasset NY


Marriage Counseling/Couples Therapy

In my work with couples, I strive to know each person well, to understand what challenges and distortions are brought into the relationship, and to foster an open and collaborative dynamic. This structure does not leave room for blame, which is hurtful and counter to the development of nurturing, bonded, and loving adult relationships. Instead, the focus remains on needed emotional relearning and behavioral change within the couple. While you may feel angry, hurt, or in utter despair at points along the way, the important thing to remember is to stay where you are and learn about your role in both the current problems and the ultimate desired solutions. As Jon Kabat-Zinn aptly states, “Wherever you go, there you are.” Put another way, if you leave or run from your relationship conflict, all you succeed in doing is taking you with you. You solve nothing. Instead, you must become better friends, learn to manage conflict, and create ways to support each other’s dreams for the future. I will help you accomplish this by paying attention to several aspects of healthy relationships:

Building Love Maps

How well do you know your partner? How well to do you know his or her inner world, hopes, dreams, stressors and worries? By connecting or reconnecting to your partner in these ways, you will build and strengthen the “knowing of the other” critical for a strong relationship foundation. This knowing serves as a reserve that can be protective, assisting you in more successfully resolving relationship conflicts or disagreements.

Share Fondness and Admiration

How often do you speak to your partner with criticism and contempt? Overtime, this breeds distance, anger, and disconnection. Rather, it is important to also feel and express positive feelings both toward yourself and your partner. I will help you increase and strengthen the amount of affection and respect within your relationship.

Turn Towards

How many times have you turned away from your partner? Perhaps you find it challenging to respond to your partner’s emotional needs, instead shutting down or turning away. Perhaps you have difficulty expressing your own needs within your relationship. I will work with you to examine your actions and reactions within your relationship. Together, you will learn to state your needs and to be aware of and respond to your partner’s attempts at connection (turn toward). Connection comes through the small moments of everyday life, which are in fact the building blocks of your relationship.

Manage Conflict

Conflict is a natural, expected and functional part of relationships. The goal, therefore, is not to be argument free. What is truly critical is how conflict is managed or responded to. Ask yourself what your part is in your relationship not working. Perhaps you are too dominant or aggressive? Perhaps you are too passive or dependent, struggling to voice your needs or perspectives? Perhaps you find it difficult to truly listen or feel the emotions of your partner? I will help you learn to positively manage ongoing challenges or conflicts and resolve temporary problems.

Make Life Dreams Come True

Do you know your partner’s hopes and dreams, values and commitments? Part of a successful relationship is creating an environment that encourages each of you to talk honestly and openly, without fear of judgment or criticism.

Create Shared Meaning

A healthy relationship involves a high level of self-awareness and awareness of your partner. This includes respecting each other’s differences and understanding that you cannot change your partner (the only person you can change is yourself). I will help you appreciate the stories, myths and metaphors you each hold about relationships in general and your relationship specifically. It may be time to leave some of those myths behind. Together, you can then “write” the story of what you want your relationship to be.


This is a concept often discussed when couples are struggling or in crisis. What does trust truly mean to you and to your partner? Oftentimes, trust is viewed as knowing that your partner acts and thinks to maximize your interests and benefits, not just the partner’s own interests and benefits. Part of building and repairing trust is learning to ask for what you need and want in your relationship, and being open to your partner as he/she does the same. To wait in hurt or angry silence for your partner to “get it” and “provide it” often leaves one waiting for a lifetime. Instead, I will help you learn to communicate to your partner, in word and deed, that "you have his/her back."


This means believing (and acting on the belief) that your relationship with your partner is completely your lifelong journey, for better or for worse (meaning that if it gets worse you will both work to improve it). This incorporates an understanding that results will not be immediate, and a related commitment to being consistent and realistic in your actions and reactions. It implies cherishing your partner’s positive qualities and nurturing gratitude by comparing the partner favorably with real or imagined others, rather than trashing the partner by magnifying negative qualities, and nurturing resentment by comparing unfavorably with real or imagined others.

Family Therapy

Family therapy is designed to be a safe place to help you to learn or relearn healthy patterns of behavior. You will work to end the repetition of unhealthy ways of being within a family. You will learn how to effectively and lovingly communicate within your family, how to provide true emotional support and respect, and how to create an environment that nurtures the success of all family members. An overriding emphasis is placed on collaboratively building a new or different family life, as well as collectively establishing goals among family members.

A component to family therapy may be a focus on parenting issues. Parenting challenges the individual as well as the couple in very significant ways. Parents learn their parenting skills from their families of origin and repeat those patterns, regardless of how healthful or toxic they are. How often have you heard your mother’s words or your father’s tone of voice coming from your lips? How often have you said, when I am a parent I will never be like…I will never do….That is why it is the relearning, and not the repetition, that is critical to healthy couples, healthy children, and healthy families. Treatment focuses on putting parents back in control through teaching the skills necessary to work as a team by utilizing new resources, tools, and confidence.