The Kovner Center For Behavioral Health and Psychological Testing has the caring and professional staff you need to assess and treat your emotional pain and suffering so that you can recover your confidence, stability, and control over your life. We will help you find happiness in your relationships and success in your educational and career goals. 

Marital and Couples Counseling

Couples who experience serious and often gridlocked problems generally wait too long to seek help and their problems become entrenched. They feel abandoned and rejected and don’t feel listened to when they try to express their pain. Their fights may become unpleasant or they may avoid each other altogether. Using science-based therapy founded on 30 years of research and experience on what happily married couples do right, Dr. Kovner helps couples manage the negativity they stir up, learn to reattach, bond or team up and solve problems, and to dive below the surface of their problems to help them reconnect emotionally.

Relationship death can seriously impact our personal mental health and lead to mental instability, emotional abuse, domestic violence, self-destructive behavior, physical illness, and emotional collapse. It can, and frequently does damage our financial resources, interfere with our educational pursuits and careers and impact the lives of our children and those dependent on us.

Through the course of this multi-faceted, dynamic and eclectic Relationship Therapy couples can expect to prevent this kind of disaster and recover from the hurt and pain of emotional abandonment, rejection and sexual disengagement they are experiencing.  

Based on years of experience and research, there are only 17 problems in marriage, not an infinite list.  Look here and see if you recognize the issues that are causing conflict in your marriage.

  • Have you or your partner become emotionally distant?  Read More
  • Being attracted to other people, jealousy, flirtations, an emotional or extramarital affair? Read More
  • Having unpleasant fights?  Read More
  • In the Attack – Defend mode? Read More
  • Not making repairs after a fight? Read More
  • Arguing Over Finances? Read More
  • Having conflict over children? Read More
  • Are your In-laws meddling? Read More
  • Lacking in romance and passion? Read More
  • Do you complain about your sexual frequency? Read More
  • Are your problems gridlocked? Read More
  • Can’t influence each other? Read More
  • Don’t support each others’ dreams? Read More

For the complete list of all 17 problems click here.

Assess Your Marriage

If you are unsure of the strengths of your marriage and want  to work on areas that need improvement, consider scheduling a marital evaluation. Through interviews and test questionnaires, Dr. Kovner will assess your marital satisfaction and divorce potential. He will assess the foundation, middle floors and roof of your “marital house.” These test instruments will identify how well you really know each other. Find out how much fondness and admiration is present in your marriage. Assess whether you turn to, turn away or against each other. Dr. Kovner assesses your problem-solving skills and how well you manage negativity when you are trying to problem solve.

Once you have identified the strengths in your marriage and areas that need improvement, you will quickly see how much reorganization is needed for the marriage to be saved. The techniques and methods used by Dr. Kovner address these specific areas that need improvement and are based on 30 years of research.  Call now  (770) 729-0123,

What Can Cause Divorce?

According to psychologists John Gottman and Robert Levenson, two separate patterns accurately predict divorce. One pattern accurately predicts (to the 90%ile) early divorce within the first 5 to 6 years on the average. The other pattern accurately predicts later divorce, at about 16 years of marriage, perhaps when the nest is empty. The first pattern of early divorce is identified by the presence of the Four Horseman: criticism, defensiveness, stonewalling and contempt. Read More. The second pattern of later divorce is identified by the general absence of positivity.  So, the reasons for divorce are not infidelity, financial problems, differences in child rearing philosophy, etc., but due to the couple’s inability to manage negativity. Let Dr. Kovner teach you the antidotes to the Four Horsemen. Call now (770) 729-0123.

Therapy is based on 30 years of research on what happily married couples do right. These couples are masters at managing negativity. Their trust, fondness and admiration and ability to turn to each other defines their marital foundation. By teaching the couples how to apply these skills, a change in their dysfunctional dynamics is attained.

Most couples comeSmiling Couple to therapy in the “Attack-Defend” mode. They perceive most feedback from their spouse as a criticism which elicits a defensive response. They simply cannot manage their negativity. Moving couples from the Attack-Defend mode to the “Repair” mode, the “Collaborative” mode and the “Admitting” mode is critical for couples to work together to solve problems.

Call now (770) 729-0123

On the average, couples don’t come to therapy until they are thoroughly entrenched in their habits, usually after 6 or 7 years of marriage. So it is no wonder that it could take a year of therapy to begin managing their negativity. Developing good study habits early in therapy aids progress. Couples that do assigned homework exercises are most successful. However, it appears that most couples do not routinely practice their newly taught skills and frequently relapse into the Attack-Defend mode. Two approaches that have been most successful in bolstering clients through the skills acquisition stage is to provide a marital education class or to attend an intensive two-day couples retreat (read more).

Learning About Marriage – Marital Education

Couple at Store PartyWhether you are planning to get married or are already living together as a couple and are interested in forming a lasting loving relationship, or enhancing the relationship you have, Marital Education is recommended for you. In the class you will learn the skills that come naturally to happily married couples. The essential skills, facts, and insights are presented in a full day with two or three couples. The thorough review of the treatment model and exercises used in therapy gives clients an overview of the Gottman approach to marital therapy. Couples learn the skills needed to build a sound marital house (read more).

What Do Couples Need To Learn For Lasting Change?

Meta analytical studies show that 30 to 50% of couples who show initial improvement in marital therapy will relapse within 2 years after treatment. To ensure lasting change, couples must be able to reduce negativity during conflict, increase positivity during conflict and increase positivity when not in conflict. This is the goal of therapy at the Kovner Center for Behavioral Health and Psychological Testing.

Who Should Attend The Pre-Marital and Marital/Couples Education Class?

Generally, when therapists use the one-hour per week counseling model to provide marital therapy, the success rate is generally very poor. Part of the reason is that most couples wait about 5 to 6 years before coming to see a therapist and by that time, their problems are entrenched. Furthermore, most couples simply do not have the time to read, study, do homework, or practice changes in behavior. Often, the result is that one year after therapy, most couples show no improvement. The solution is Marital Education. During this class, you will be given the overview of the treatment program, the goals, the methods and the exercises used to capitalize on your strengths and to improve your relationship.

Prior to couples counseling, a one day class (Marital University) in the art and science of creating a successful relationship improves treatment outcome. The class is from 9AM to 5PM and is conducted on Saturdays at Dr. Kovner’s office. The class is usually attended by two or three couples. Because we are teaching, not treating, no personal disclosure is necessary and your confidentiality is preserved.

To sign up for a marital education class or a premarital seminar, call now (770) 729-0123.

For couples that desire a more private class, arrangements can be made for them.

Marital Education is not for everyone. For couples that are experiencing extreme distress and marital crises, the Couples Therapy Retreat is more appropriate.

Couples Crises Therapy – Weekend Retreat

The Couples Therapy Retreat is a skills-building therapy program for one couple in distress, perhaps on the brink of breaking up or divorcing. They feel their marriage is in a state of emergency and are seeking an immediate, privateangrycouple4-267x200, intensive therapy experience to learn how to manage their negativity. The couple spends two days at Dr. Kovner’s comfortable office in Norcross, Georgia, learning and practicing relationship building skills using Gottman Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Transactional Analysis and more. The advantages of a Two-Day Retreat for Couples is that they can quickly explore their history, learn the skills up-front that are necessary to manage negativity, and develop insight into how their dreams have come into conflict. By accelerating their knowledge they can productively spend their weekly follow-up sessions applying that knowledge. Therapy is the application of knowledge learned.

What Couples Will Accomplish in the Two-Day Intensive Marital Therapy

  • Learn how to stop perceiving your partner in a way that brings out their defensiveness.
  • Learn to identify triggers associated with anger, fear and sadness.
  • Move out of the Attack-Defend stage of the marital argument and learn how to repair, collaborate and get back to solving the “real” problems of living a happy and fulfilling life.
  • Rebuild friendship, fondness and admiration for each other.

To sign up for a Two-Day Intensive Marital Therapy Retreat, call now (770) 729-0123.

Teen Suicide

There have been recent newspaper articles about teen suicide in our community and I want to reach out to parents and make you aware of these signs of depression in your own children so that you may get them the help they need in time. Can you recognize the signs of...

Should I Have My Child Tested Privately?

An IEE is an independent educational evaluation done by a professional psychologist who does not work for your child’s school. A parent may want their child tested independently to get an objective professional assessment of their child’s achievement, intelligence,...

Why do I need a psychological evaluation for bariatric surgery?

Many people seeking bariatric surgery have never used mental health services before at all and most don’t understand why they are needed before this kind of  surgery. You may have heard that the evaluation was an insurance requirement.  That is often the case now but...

The Stages of Change

According to the research of James O. Prochaska, Ph.D. & Carlo C. DiClemente, Ph.D. there are 6 stages of change. Their research helped many Americans quit smoking, recognizing that change is a process that has an emotional component, not just a "logical" one....

Recommended Reading

For Cognitive Behavior Therapy If you are interested in doing CBT on your own, there is an excellent resource in Dennis Greenberger and Christine Padesky's work book, Mind Over Mood, Second Edition: Change How You Feel by Changing the Way You Think.  For Parent and...

What If My Partner Won’t Come To Therapy?

Often prospective clients call to say that their partner refuses to come to couples therapy and want advice about what to do. I suggest that they start the process of therapy individually. The first stage of therapy is assessment. So, you would come in and present the...

Effective Communication for Couples

Some things are worth arguing about! Arguing is a common and sometimes effective form of communication if the negativity between the individuals is managed. Constant arguing is tiresome and exhausting, especially when it is unproductive and neither gets their point...

Is Your Sexual Life Less Than Satisfying?

When couples are in conflict, sex is usually the first thing to go; and, by the way, it is the last thing to return as you begin the process of repair. Couples have similar complaints in the bedroom. Sex is too infrequent, not initiated by their partner, one's drive...

Repairs After a Fight

Researchers have found that couples who are happily married do argue.  However, if their arguments become mean spirited, they spontaneously make repairs.  Dr. Kovner will teach you how to make repairs after a marital fight which can strengthen the bond of the...

Having Unpleasant Fights?

Has your fighting become unpleasant?  One piece of advice is that even happily married couples argue. Some things are worth arguing for.  However, if you or your partner say things that you or they later regret, you argue when under the influence which could lead to a...

When Your Dreams Are In Conflict

Maybe you always wanted to go back to college, but you had to sacrifice to raise the children or support the family business.  You always wanted to travel but your partner prefers to visit family.  Your dreams are in conflict and you feel something is missing. Perhaps...

There Are Two Kinds of Problems In Marriage

Solvable and Unsolvable Problems The reason to split marital problems up into two categories is that solvable problems have a separate set of solutions from unsolvable ones.  Based on the studies of happily married couples and what they do "right," researchers¹  and...

Is Your Marriage Lacking In Passion And Romance?

As couples engage in constant conflict, they deplete their emotional bank account. When they go into a state of emotional bankruptcy their ability to trust declines and the their fondness and admiration decay. They turn away from each other, even against each other....

The Attack – Defend Mode

Couples often come to therapy in the first of four stages of the marital argument.   In couples therapy, the four stages of marital therapy parallel the four stages of the marital argument. In the first stage, the couple is in the Attack and Defend stage.  In this...

Managing Conflict: Soft vs. Harsh Startup

Many couples make a mistake by beginning a conversation with a Harsh Startup that makes an accusation that immediately provokes conflict, like "Why did you come home so late? Where were you?" When you start a conversation with an anxious or angry tone, a fight or an...

Why Couples Divorce: The Four Horsemen

The reason that couples divorce is fourfold: Criticism Defensiveness Stonewalling Contempt or, what John Gottman calls, "the Four Horsemen." The Four Horsemen: Criticism, Defensiveness, Stonewalling and Contempt, are highly predictive of divorce. Graduate students...