Couples Therapy Pasadena

Have the passion and desire faded from your relationship? Are you feeling unsatisfied or unfulfilled emotionally or sexually, but are afraid to talk about it because you fear being rejected? Or—perhaps you are arguing about things with your partner and can’t seem to resolve matters because you don’t feel listened to.

The truth is: all relationships take work, but the love and respect that you want from your partner is something that has to be earned each and every day. Conflicts will arise and that love and respect can turn into resentment or blame. The closeness, intimacy and connectedness you once felt turn into distance and disconnectedness. Communication breaks down and you feel alone, unsafe, or angry.

You’re here because you are stuck figuring out what is wrong with your relationship. Figuring out how to mend things is equally as challenging. Whether it’s been years of tough times or you’re in shock from an event such as an affair, I am here to help.

Just as relationships grow and change over time, our time together will weave through who each of you are, your histories before you met and your identities as spouses. The history of your relationship will likely not be the same, and that is okay. In fact it is to be expected as you both come with your own views and perceptions of what is going on.

Throughout our time together, you’ll gain more active skills and techniques to handle the immediate fights and hurts in a way that feels good to both of you. We move at a pace that feels sustainable. Skills take practice and our work together will ensure we work through any hiccups and bumps along the path to your new relationship.

Helping couples reconnect and rebuild their relationship

Your life phase matters greatly to our work. No two relationships are alike, and your age has a influential say in what stressors your relationship has to hold. We are never individuals in a bubble, but rather a generation raised with certain values, expectations and visions for our personal growth and for what a relationship is supposed to be. Our age also impacts the life around us and who and what are competing for our time and attention, whether it’s young children, troubled teens, aging parents, or retirement in its exciting terror of how to spend life after a long career.

Across the board in modern America, more and more couples are demoralized. You may be one of these individuals. You may feel you’ve fallen out of love, you or your spouse are too busy, questioning why you’re married to a roommate and not a lover and companion who isn’t the top of your priority list.

The upside to this demoralization is it shows a longing for connection. You are reading this page now, which tells me something about you. You or your significant other feel hope, even if it’s hard to articulate or even believe. But there is something that has triggered a look for something more, and a hope of reconnecting to the person you fell in love with and committed your life to.

How to get from here to there is not an overnight journey but I have helped many couples reconnect in ways they could not have imagined when they started.

You may be saying no, we never really had that strong spark. This may be part of your existential concern about your relationship and about doing couples therapy. It’s okay, this uncertainty is a great sign you are in the right place. It means you feel something is missing, a container only partially filled. This is a huge part of my professional training and professional passion in my work.

You may be struggling with a reality that your marital foundation wasn’t strong to begin with. You are not alone. Many people are married with too many unspoken needs or feelings they hide away, believing the status quo is preferable to rocking the boat.

Witnessing the rebuilding of a relationship is one of the most awe-inspired parts of my profession. A rebuild can mean we start at the foundation and work all the way up. Or it can be more of a remodel, some parts of your relationship are great and others need to get up to the same level.

If you can bring your real self, or can trust me to help you find your real, authentic self, it would be my honor to walk you through the journey and help you to reconnect and rebuild your relationship.

It is my life’s work.

Getting started is easy. Send an email and we’ll hop on the phone. It’s as simple as that.

I have been working with couples, practicing couples therapy in Pasadena for over fifteen years. As your therapist, I will help you understand the underlying conflict and how each partner contributes to it. I will provide a safe space that allows for open and honest communication. Together, we’ll explore how to reconnect and find healthier ways of dealing with conflict and re-establishing intimacy and communication.

Donna Shanahan



Donna Shanahan, LMFT

Couples Therapy Pasadena, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.

If you resonate with my website, there is a high chance of being a great fit in person.

You are curious about these themes of connecting and rebuilding and why I do what I do. It is important to feel that I can assist you in your therapy goals.

I had a former life before becoming a therapist. It taught me many things and ultimately drove me into this deep healing work. There is no more awe-inspired profession than to help untangle a short-term mess, or a longstanding conflict (inside yourself or between you and your partner or others in your life.)

My first professional interest was exploring the deeper inner world of people.

  • What makes us tick?
  • How and why do we act in certain ways today that are deep-rooted wounds replaying themselves out?
  • Why can it be so stressful to have a great childhood and find someone who didn’t – how do we navigate what seems to be old battles that don’t relate to what we’re doing?!
  • How can we feel confident today when we have reasons to not be so from past experiences?

This is called Psychoanalytical therapy and I have advanced training in this approach. I am now enjoying adding a more relational approach to my work, something called Relational Life Therapy, which helps couples resolve conflicts, improve communication, develop personal accountability and foster intimacy in their relationships.

My Approach

Combining the “inner” world with relational skills is one way I stand out from many of my colleagues. When you have two people in the room it’s important to go deep enough into each person’s past, but not so deep the relationship gets ignored. The strength of ‘inner work’ and ‘skills work’ is to be able to understand why you think, feel or act a certain way. When you return to the current stress of your relationship, you will be equipped with how to express yourself in a respectful way that your significant other will honestly understand.

Self-knowledge, deeper understanding of your partner, and how we relate to each other is the heart of connection and rebuilding.

It’s truly something to be experienced rather than simply read about. We work moment by moment of where you are, what your goals are, and ensuring we head in the direction you want to be in, at the pace that fits your style and personality.

Ultimately a therapist’s greatest joy is when a couple develops an awareness about what is being triggered and can find a way to work through it. Or with an individual, to watch the insight, growth and increased confidence in all facets of life.

There can be moments to return to therapy in the future, but my goal is to help you navigate life’s struggles with patience, confidence and respect for one-another as you blissfully make your way with new insights and skills.

Some of the benefits of couple’s therapy in my Pasadena office include:

  • Developing healthy ways of communicating with each other and avoiding blame
  • Gaining insight into how past relationships influence present ways of thinking about yourself and your partner
  • Creating more intimacy
  • Learning how to negotiate differences and work collectively on problems and issues

Please call or email me for a consultation today.

Be Happily Married…With Children

It’s a fairly safe assumption to say that when you have children, your life changes. There’s probably not a soul in the world who would dispute that. But, some people are likely to focus on a mixture of changes, rather than focus on strictly positive ones. If we’re all being honest, we should probably all be focusing on that mix – especially when it comes to marriage. Wedded bliss can easily fly out the window when kids come into the picture, and it’s really no one’s fault. You’re expected to put your children first, above all else. The only problem with that arises when we ignore our marriage in the process.

Life can become chaotic, stressful, and feel as though it’s moving at 100 miles per hour when you bring a new baby into the house. No matter how much advice you might get from people ahead of time when it comes to the importance of going out, having ‘date nights,’ etc., none of that seems to really fit into the schedule of a new parent. And, while it’s likely you wouldn’t change your situation or trade your children for anything, the fact remains: Kids can throw a wrench into just about any marriage, no matter what age they are.

So, whether you have a newborn baby, or three kids all under the age of ten, there are some important things to keep in mind to keep your marriage happy and healthy.

As a couples therapist in Pasadena, I understand being on the same page about things is important, and you can’t do that unless you’re well-rested. It may be an old sort of ‘joke’ that when you bring a new baby into the house, you can say goodbye to sleep. And maybe for a few months, that’s the case. But, sleep should be a priority not only for yourself, but for your relationship. When you’re well-rested, you’ll be able to communicate more clearly, you won’t be as irritable, and you’ll be more open toward your partner. If need be, work out a sort of sleep schedule that ensures both of you will get an adequate amount of rest.

Once you’re in the right mindset and well-rested, communication is key, again and again. One of the most important things you can do is trust your partner, and recognize that at times, they will fail – and so will you! With kids in the picture, it’s easy to feel over-worked, over-stressed, and overwhelmed. That makes it far too easy to lash out at the people closest to us when something goes wrong, including our spouse. Make every effort possible to be patient with the person you’re with, and recognize that a single mistake doesn’t dictate who they are.

In addition to forgiving and forgetting, you should be appreciative of the ‘little things.’ Maybe your spouse makes dinner every night, maybe they cleaned the bathroom, or maybe they knew you were having a bad day so they stopped to get you flowers. While none of these instances are ‘grand gestures’ of any kind, you don’t always have time for those grand gestures when you’re trying to take care of kids. So, take the little things as they come, and be appreciative of what they mean. They can add up quickly, and really build up your marriage to a higher level.

While the ‘date night’ everyone encourages you to have can be nice, especially when it means getting some adult time for awhile, it’s not always as feasible as people make it out to be. But, it is important to have something you and your spouse can do together that doesn’t revolve around kids. So, don’t be afraid to take up some kind of hobby or activity together that you can both enjoy. It can be anything from joining a local fitness group, to taking an art class. Find a common interest, or something you’d be willing to try, and go from there. Even just a couple hours a week of something like this can leave you feeling refreshed, and closer to your partner.

When it comes down to it, yes, having kids in your marriage can make things stressful, and at times it can feel like you’re doing it on your own, causing you to snap at the person you love most. But, you have to understand that your spouse is going through the exact same thing, with the exact same situation. Instead of taking out your frustrations on each other, it’s okay to commiserate with each other. Simply getting things off your chest to one another can help alleviate some of that stress, rather than letting it build up inside. Remember that your marriage is a partnership, especially when it comes to raising your kids. When you not only accept that, but appreciate it, that relationship can really thrive.