In the course of my doctoral study, I focused my training on marriage and family relationships and wrote my dissertation on the topic of LDS women and sexual agency.
My post-doctorate training is in systems theory, differentiation theory, and sex therapy. I have fifteen years of clinical experience.
Education & Training
Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology, Boston College. Included year-long supervised internships at Stoney Brook Counseling Center, Massachusetts General Hospital’s Boston Evening Medical Center, and the University of Maine College Counseling Center.
Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology, Boston College. Included a supervised practicum, completed at Wheaton College Guidance Services in Norton, Massachusetts.
Illinois license number 180.006790. (Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor)
Specialties & Approach
Do you long to feel more loved and appreciated by your partner? Are you tired of the unproductive fights? Is the friction causing the two of you to drift apart? People often respond to relationship stress in ways that are instinctive and self-protective, but ultimately undermine intimacy and openness in their relationships.
Whether you are suffering from long-standing distrust, chronic sexual dissatisfaction, fighting about money, kids, or religious differences, you can receive direct input from Dr. Finlayson-Fife on what is happening in your marriage and what your role is in those self-defeating or destructive patterns. By seeing and understanding your own contributions to your marital unhappiness, you can change how you react, and effectively change the patterns that are keeping you and your partner from a joyful, honest, and resilient relationship. Dr. Finlayson-Fife uses a differentiation-based approach. In your work with her, you will learn to:
identify the unproductive, if not destructive, behaviors that undermine your relational peace.
calm your own reactivity and better tolerate seeing yourself and your partner more honestly.
learn to better collaborate around differences.
achieve greater authenticity and mutual respect.
increase your capacity for intimacy so that you are more capable of being known by and knowing your spouse, as well as more capable of giving and receiving goodness.
Almost all couples deal with sexual issues at some point in a long-term relationship. Because sexual problems affect how people feel about themselves and each other, their existence can profoundly undermine the happiness of the relationship. This reality can also make it challenging for couples to turn sexual problems around on their own. Some of the concerns couples bring to sessions include:
I feel sexually inhibited and insecure. Why do I feel this way? And can I overcome my discomfort with sex and intimacy?
I want to feel stronger desire and more emotional connection to my spouse through sex. What is getting in our way?
Our differences in desire create resentment between us. How can we better understand and effectively respond to our differences in desire?
Sex feels stilted and awkward sometimes. How can we develop more authenticity and genuine passion in our marriage?
The solution lies not just in getting your body to respond, but also in having a relationship that supports healthy sexual functioning.
I wrote my dissertation on sexuality and desire, looking specifically at the obstacles to LDS women's desire, eroticism and pleasure in long-term relationships. I can help you by addressing individual sexual developmental issues (of both men and women) as well as addressing relational obstacles to overcome the sexual challenges you and your partner face. Through your own sexual and relational development, you can find greater embodied pleasure and the deeply-felt satisfaction that comes through a passionate, monogamous relationship.
I have a particular passion for helping women. I minored in women's studies as an undergraduate and feminist-relational models of therapy in graduate school, have given college-campus workshops on the subjects of body image and eating disorders, and wrote my dissertation on sexual agency in LDS women—looking particularly at women's comfort with and psychological integration of erotic desire and pleasure. Consistently, my work with couples takes seriously women's relationships to themselves, and their often unmet desires in their lives and relationships.
I offer coaching on the following issues often related to women's experience:
Low self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness
Poor body image and complicated relationship with food
Sexuality and sexual identity, including women's relationship to desire and pleasure.
Perfectionism and women’s common over-functioning in relationships.
Self-development and its intersection with traditional roles and careers.
Dissatisfaction in intimate relationships, in particular dissatisfactions related to shifting roles expectations between men and women.
Spirituality & Identity Issues
As we experience life and grow into adulthood, often the religious or spiritual anchors we inherited as children need refining. Spirituality is about finding an inner compass that guides you and gives you strength. Identifying and trusting this source of wisdom is an important part of personal growth and psychological adulthood.
Developing spiritual capacity comes in part through the process of looking honestly at your life and relationships, clarifying your beliefs and values, and having the courage to live by them. It usually includes sorting through traditions and inherited beliefs and discerning what you believe is true about the world and who you are. This process is inherently connected to knowing and accepting ourselves as well as the increased ability to see and act wisely, and live with integrity.