sonoma county relationship and marriage counseling
female psychotherapist for women and couples in santa rosa, california
maintaining autonomy and independence in arriage and relationships dealing with conflict in relationships by taking responsibility
Gudrun Zomerland, MFT, CCPS
Licensed Marriage
and Family Therapist
MFC #27617
405 Chinn Street
Santa Rosa, CA 95404
Email Gudrun

Client Resources:

addiction self-tests Addiction Self Tests
sonoma county area addiction support groups 12-Step Fellowship Links
fair fighting rules and tips Handouts and Forms

Articles by
Gudrun Zomerland:

Addiction and

shame as a defense mechanism Shame as Self-Care
internet pornography addiction The Dangers of
Internet Porn
teen drug alcohol addiction Non-Violent Communication and its Relevance for Codependents
teen drug alcohol additction Teen Addiction:
An Open Letter
prescription drug abuse Prescription Drug Abuse
windsor alcohol and chemical dependency treatment The Core of Co-Dependency
santa rosa counselor for depression and anxiety Co-Dependent Characteristics
childhood trauma and post traumatic stress support H.A.L.T.: A Self-Care Tool
family and couples counseling in sonoma county The Family Member in Denial


treatment for trauma from domestic violence and spousal abuse Non-Violent Communication and its Relevance for Codependents
attachment disorders in adult relationships Attachment in Adult Relationships
healthy communication skills in adult relationships and marriage Getting to Know Your Emotions
sonoma county marriage counselor Communication Skills for Couples - 101
treatment options for alcoholism and drug addiction in marin county Differentiation, or What Makes Relationships Work
santa rosa psychotherapist treating depression and anxiety John Gottman's Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

General Topics:

narcissism Rapunzel, Daughter of a
Closet Narcissist
psychotherapy for trauma Trauma: The Shaking Of A Soul
shame as a defense mechanism Shame as Self-Care
narcissistic parents and conarcissistic children Narcissism and Co-Narcissism
counseling for sexual abuse trauma in northern california Sexual Abuse Guidelines
rohnert park PTSD post traumatic stress disorder therapy Book Review:
"Stop Gaining Weight"
The Body Never Lies by Alice Miller and Hidden in Plain Sight by Barry Grosskopf Is Forgiving Our Parents Necessary for Mental Health?
overcoming fear and phobia through psychotherapy Fear of Fear
counseling for gay and lesbian couples in sonoma and marin county Living with the Light and Dark Sides of Life




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Differentiation, Or What Makes Relationships Work

by Gudrun Zomerland, MFT

Unless we were fortunate enough to have had good role models available when we grew up, most of us get into relationships little prepared and often overwhelmed by the complexities. The quick-fix solutions then are either denial that any problems exist, giving up one's self with subsequent resentment, frequent fighting, or break-up of the relationship because it is considered just "too hard" to be in it. With the rise in consciousness over the last 30 years of how people are affected by circumstances and each other, the mental health field has made tremendous gains. Research has focused on what makes individuals in a relationship happy. The sum of all the findings can be put into one word: differentiation.

Differentiation is a developmental stage that a couple has to reach in order to be a unit that enhances each individual in it as well as the relationship itself. A differentiated individual is a person who can identify his or her feelings, can discover what the unique need is behind a feeling, and can fulfill that need in a constructive manner. This sounds like a tall order, and it is. Rest assured that this is an ideal goal to strife toward. Most of us fall off the wagon at times, especially when we are hungry, stressed, or tired. Difficulties arise when both partners fall off the wagon at the same time. Therefore, another task of a well-differentiated person is the ability to hold his or her partner's irrationalities and imperfections as a momentary lapse and not react to it.

Each one of us needs to accept another as the other presents him- or herself. Then we need to ask ourselves: Given that the other is who he is or given that the other does what she does that bothers me, what can I do to come to a state of balance again? What is the constructive action I can engage in that will change my situation for the better and will bring me some peace of mind? The constructive action (such as talking) may include the partner, but only if he or she is open to it. As long as the partner is in lapse mode and relies on distancing, the constructive action of the other must be solitary or depend on other trustworthy members of the community.

The real gift of relationships is that they force us to look at ourselves, to get to know ourselves, and sometimes to stretch and change. Conflict in a relationship is always a gift. Of course, this does not include outright abuse, such as physical violence, verbal attacks, or permanent abandonment because of infidelities or addictions. Those need to stop at once. If they don't stop the harmed partner has the right and duty to remove himself or herself. But when conflict is free of abuse, we can work with what it brings up in us. The more self-knowledge we possess, the more interesting and therefore attractive we are for the other partner. Thus, a relationship between two people can stay alive and juicy for a lifetime.
Gudrun Zomerland MFT marriage family therapistback to Gudrun Zomerland

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Gudrun Zomerland is a counselor specializing in differentiation and communication skills