Debi Hartwell - MA, CCC, CSAT-S, CMAT

Couples Therapy

“If you want to improve your coupleship ask yourself what would I have to change about myself to make myself happy in this relationship”  - James Maddock, PhD

Are you looking for a couple’s therapist who can help you move your relationship to a more intimate, safe and loving place?

“Our relationship felt dead. We slept in the same bed, ate meals together and sometimes went out and had some fun, but we had no intimacy. It seemed like we were more like roommates. Debi helped us to talk about the things that had been left unresolved for many years. It took a great deal of work because I thought the problem was my partner. I soon realized that I was the only one that I could change. My changing had a very positive effect. It seems that change was attractive to my partner as well. We have a much richer life today.” - L and J, Vancouver

Some couples seek counselling because they feel lonely and disconnected from their partner. It is my passion to help couples build a ‘couple bubble”. Keep reading for more for details.

Couples TherapyMy philosophy toward couple’s therapy is a Psychobiological Approach to Couples Therapy® with Dr. Stan Tatkin. This approach focuses on early attachment and its effect on brain and nervous system development, as well as on specific neuroendocrine issues related to interpersonal stress. The PACT methodology emphasizes enactment of experience over cognition or psychological interpretation. Interventions often entail therapeutically staged moments intended to trigger arousal and implicit somatoaffective experience and memory. As a psychobiologically trained clinician, I meticulously attend to each partner’s moment-to-moment variations and shifts in affect and arousal as observed in the face, body, and voice.

I can help you achieve what Dr. Tatkin calls a “couple bubble”. Here are some quotes from his book, Wired for Love: How Understanding Your Partner's Brain and Attachment Style Can Help You Defuse Conflict and Build a Secure Relationship”;

How to get the most from couples counselling article.

Some couples seek counselling because their relationship needs guidance and support to repair from the devastating effects of sex addiction.

Some couples seek counselling because there has been a betrayal. It can be devastating to discover that your partner has been unfaithful and that your relationship has been a lie. While it may seem that there is no hope to regain trust and move forward, it is absolutely possible and many couples find their way back to an honest, loving relationship. The work of restoring trust involves a restoration of healthy boundaries, a structured and accountable recovery plan for the addict, trauma therapy and support for the partner as well as any other couple related issues.

If you are the partner of a sex addict you are experiencing sex-addiction-induced trauma. This is a specific type of trauma that comes from the impact of the sex addict’s chronic pattern of sexual acting out, emotional abuse, deception, betrayal and manipulation. According to Dr. Minwalla of the Institute for Sexual Health, “partners of sex addicts often present to treatment with symptoms similar to rape trauma syndrome (RTS) and complex post-traumatic-stress disorder (C-PTSD). This includes a re-experiencing of the trauma, social and emotional constriction, frequent triggering and physiological and emotional reactivity, anxiety, emotional arousal and hyper-vigilance. Some partners experience fears of exposure to sexually transmitted disease or concerns for the safety of their children. Social isolation, shame, and disruption in the ability to trust their spouse, self, or others are common. Psychological pain for partners of sex addicts is particularly intense upon new discovery of sexual acting out, deceit, or relationship betrayals”.

“I woke up one morning to discover that my partner had a sex addiction and that he had betrayed and traumatized me. A friend recommended Debi so I called and made an appointment. She set us on a recovery plan that saved our marriage. She was skilled and straight forward about what needed to happen to heal and find safety.” - H, Chilliwack, BC

I provide a safe and supportive environment for both straight and gay clients of any race or religion.

If you are interested in couples counselling please call me at 604-318-2351 or contact me through email

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