Fern Orenstein

 

SEEING STRENGTH IN DIFFERENCE

As a mom of a neurodiverse son, I have learned in a very personal way to see the strength and beauty in human differences. Now, as a Neurodiverse Couples Therapist and Neurodiversity Coach, I am able to use this as the foundation of how I help couples navigate the unique opportunities and challenges that neurodiversity brings into a relationship.

THE BLAME CYCLE

When neurodiversity is not understood by a couple, they typically fall into painful dysfunctional patterns that are hard to break out of. A common one is when the neurodiverse partner receives a request from his (or her) partner and feels great frustration. This is usually because he feels blamed for the other’s distress or feels identified as the person responsible for the dysfunction in their relationship.

 

On the other hand, the neurotypical partner feels that she (or he) is merely expressing basic needs and can not understand why her partner is struggling to respond. The more she pursues, the more he withdraws or counter-attacks. At this point, both partners feel hopeless!

 

One reason this pattern becomes entrenched is because a neurodiverse partner may be primed by life experience to feel blamed even though none is intended. Recrimination can be poisonous for a couple, keeping them locked in the blame cycle. This pattern is common in neurodiverse relationships and must be identified and addressed in order to develop a healthier relationship.

BREAKING THE CYCLE

A neurodiverse couple can begin to break their dysfunctional cycles by implementing changes in two critical areas; communication and expectations.

BRIDGING COMMUNICATION GAPS

In the area of communication, we will break down each person's communication style, working to understand how to bridge the gap between logic and emotions, concrete and abstract thinking, and absolutist and relative frameworks. By bridging these gaps, we will be able to shift from a pattern of "pursue and withdraw" to a pattern of connection.

 

As this happens, the connection begins to build trust, trust leads to emotional intimacy, and eventually the emotional intimacy sets the foundation for the couple to begin to work on sexual intimacy. All along the way, I will help you understand each other's experiences and validate each other's emotions that will surface.

RESETTING EXPECTATIONS

In our time together, we will also work to reset expectations which are often distorted (in both directions) based on one's native brain wiring. I can assist you in understanding the nature of neurodiversity and its positive and negative impacts on couples’ relationships.

 

Often partners may expect the other partner to naturally understand how they feel or what they think. They may under-estimate how much communication and clarity is needed to build a base of shared expectations. And not having shared expectations can cause deep wounding as the expectation gap usually gets interpreted as "my partner doesn't care".

 

This wounding (due to expectation gaps) is a greater challenge in neurodiverse couples because these couples usually do not have the language or the skills to know how to repair relationship wounds. As we work together, you will have the opportunity to review past wounds in a safe non-defensive way together. Working this way, you can identify and explore expectations (and the resulting wounds) with hope and compassion, and, in doing so, develop deeper connection and intimacy.  

ABOUT

I am a Neurodiverse Couples Coach. I am the proud mother of 2 young men in their early twenties. I received a Master's degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from California State University Dominguez Hills and a BFA from New York University. 

  

LIFE EXPERIENCE

I grew up in a large, close-knit family consisting of 6 sisters and one brother. My parents instilled strength, perseverance, and resilience in each of us. I learned early on that I had to manage expectations and approach situations open-mindedly and positively. Positive and affirming language, humor, and gratefulness have always been how I live my life.

 

When raising my children, the focus on developing healthy self-esteem and confidence was a constant theme in their upbringing. I apply this philosophy about communication and relationships in my therapy practice. 

 

After a 25-year career in the entertainment industry, I decided to reevaluate my profession. As I contemplated the next steps, it became abundantly clear that I enjoyed helping others figure out their strengths and help them attain life goals. Consequently, I understand what it takes to balance stressful job demands and raise a family with someone you love who is neurodiverse. We are not all wired the same. I know how important it is to accept each other’s differences.

 

GENERAL COMMENTS ABOUT THERAPY

 I view therapy as a collaborative process to which we both bring insight, feedback, and expertise. Your experience of growth as a neurodiverse couple is central to the process, and my goal is to facilitate a rewarding and productive strategy for you. I will approach all issues with curiosity, warmth and honesty. I work with clients using a relational, systems-based lens to determine the best approach. These include Emotionally Focused Therapy, Gottman, Person-Centered Therapy, Humanistic, Mindfulness, and Relational Life Therapy.  Additionally, I’m a certified Solution Focused Therapist.

I provide clear, straightforward, professional therapy that works.  My methods are practical, comprehensive, and individualized so that you can get on with your best life. I understand there is no one size fits all therapy. I use many therapeutic techniques, but the most helpful therapy is the one that gets results. 

PERSONAL INVITATION

Seeking help and support can be difficult for a neurodiverse couple. I hope to create an environment where couples are comfortable, seen, heard, and understood. In such a safe space, couples can be their authentic selves, opening the door to a deeper understanding of what's troubling them. Everyone has the potential and deserves to live a fulfilling life. I believe that I can help you identify and move past the barriers that stand in your way to leading this life. My process for the therapeutic relationship is to be non-judgmental, person-centered, collaborative, and goal-focused and to facilitate your journey.

 

I look forward to hearing from you!

 

Specialties
  • Neurodiverse couples and families

  • Couples Therapy

  • Addiction Recovery

  • Affair Recovery

  • Anger Management

  • Mindfulness Meditation

  • Families including teen parenting, co-parenting, early parenting, divorce

 

Clients

Couples, Families, Individuals

 

Modalities

Attachment-based, CBT, Emotionally Focused, Family Systems, Gottman, Humanistic, Mindfulness, Motivational Interviewing, Multicultural, Relational Life Therapy,  Person-Centered Therapy, Psychodynamic, Solution Focused Therapy.

 

Professional Membership

American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT)

California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT)

Contact

FernOtherapy@gmail.com

310-713-1579

IMG_7192.jpeg