Hanne-Berit Hahnemann, DMA, M.Ed, LPCC-S, LICDC

 
I have a masters degree in clinical counseling with a supervisory license from Cleveland State University and have many years of experience in private practice in the USA. As an expat myself, I specialize in expats and the challenges that come with moving to another country.
 
As a psychotherapist, I aim first and foremost at creating a safe and supportive environment where you will feel free to explore what is troubling you and where you will feel attentively heard and deeply understood. In the session, I may ask pointed and helpful questions to help increase your insight and understanding, but I am always kind and supportive and it is of utmost importance to me that therapy is a place where you feel validated and understood.
 
Taking steps to begin therapy may be intimidating, but it is my experience that people feel a sense of relief and hopefulness, and are very glad that they came.

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Individual Therapy

 
I enjoy using positive psychology, dialectical and cognitive behavioral therapies, which research has shown to be the most effective types of treatments for many psychological problems. I am an experienced therapist with qualifications that allow me to tailor my therapy approach to each individual person’s needs and wants.
 
Here are some examples of what you may get help with in individual psychotherapy:
  • Heal and shift painful problems and self-defeating behaviors at their root
  • Change unhealthy thinking patterns & learn new, more effective ones
  • Find renewed closeness and connections in relationships
  • Live more authentically and truthfully to who you are at your core
  • Heal abuse, depression and anxiety
  • Navigate the grief of a death, divorce, or other loss or transition
  • Find acceptance, compassion and forgiveness for yourself and others
  • Learn mindfulness and how to stay grounded and centered
  • Learn coping skills and problem solving
  • Learn to confront & accept issues and decrease the need to numb your feelings with addictive behaviors

Couple Counseling

In couples therapy, I use a very effective system called the Gottman Method, from the renowned Gottman Institute in Seattle, USA. Couples tend to like this system, as it is founded in heavy research and comes with extremely helpful strategies and exercises that are easy to understand and use.

Some of the goals of the Gottman Method are to help you:

  • Identify negative patterns that are hindering the quality of your relationship & friendship
  • Stop blaming each other so you can work through problems without power struggles
  • Disarm conflicting verbal communications
  • Increase intimacy, respect, and affection
  • Remove barriers that create a feeling of stagnancy in conflicting situations
  • Recognize the damaging cyclical patterns in your relationship
  • Handle daily stressors that interfere with romance and intimacy
  • Repair your relationship after a breach of trust

Aside from the work we will do in the sessions, you will also get homework so that lessons from the session can continue throughout the week.

Communication:
The number one reason couples request counseling is communication. As we know, in order for a relationship to operate well, we need to be able to talk to each other in a healthy and effective way. We often learn communication patterns that aren’t always the best or most effective way to make ourselves heard or understood.
While all couples argue, it’s not so much the conflicts themselves that indicate a bad relationship, but instead the manner of which the arguments are communicated. The 4 big communication offenders are defensiveness, criticism, contempt, and stonewalling. Most relationships will have some of these, but healthy relationships don’t use them nearly as often and do more to repair them when they are used. When we criticize, use contempt, become defensive, or stonewall, we are not creating a healthy place from which to discuss issues and consequently will not be heard or listened to. In our session, I will help you to see how the unhealthy patterns have affected your relationship, and assist you in implementing the antidotes and teach you to help each other implement them.
 
How to manage conflict:
Many couples make the mistake of assuming that conflict is bad when it really isn’t; it’s a natural, unavoidable part of a relationship. In fact, conflicts, when communicated in healthy ways, can result in increased growth and greater closeness with your partner. However, it is often not possible, or even important, to solve every problem that comes along. John Gottman found in his research that actual solutions of problems are less important than the manner in which they were communicated and that in happy marriages, only 69% of conflicts are ever resolved.

You will learn to identify when a problem within the marriage is a perpetual problem and when it is a solvable problem. Perpetual problems are issues that will never go away because they come from differences of personality, innate values, or lifestyle needs. These are the types of problems that result in “argument loops” that go nowhere but cause a lot a havoc in relationships. Couples unable to manage perpetual problems often end up calling it quits, only to get into another relationship and trade one set of perpetual problems for a different set of perpetual problems. All couples have these perpetual problems. When you learn to identify them and discuss them properly, the amount of unnecessary conflicts will considerably lessen.

Solvable problems, on the other hand, are often situational issues such as child care, intimacy, chores, etc., and a solution to those can be agreed upon and maintained. The key to managing them without unnecessary arguing is to avoid using the 4 Horsemen offenders mentioned above.
 
How to repair your relationship after an affair:
Repairing a relationship after an affair can be one of the hardest things to do and often requires significant commitment and work. I like to tell couples that we are no longer working on marriage number 1, but on marriage number 2; the marriage is no longer the way it was. That can be a daunting task, but after the work is done, I have seen marriages become closer and more intimate than they ever were before the affair.

It can be helpful to think about the work after an affair in 3 phases:
  1. Atonement
  2. Attunement
  3. Attachment
The Atonement phase focuses on processing emotions from the betrayed partner as well as the betrayer. This can be a lengthy process but is important work to do, and the “bones” of recovering from infidelity.
The Attunement phase is when a narrative is created about how or why the affair came about and this is when the couple learns to reconnect emotionally. The couple also focuses on replacing negative, contemptuous talk with appreciation for each other.
Attachment is about re-learning intimacy and trust. I will help you develop skills to deal with perpetual issues that have become gridlocked, and to implement these skills in order to have new, intimate conversations. You will also learn more about shared meanings and strengthening your friendship with your partner.