Relationship Development

I work extensively with couples, using a psycho-educational approach.  This means we will address the issues you have now but I will also help you gain skills for new ways of relating that you can apply to other concerns in the future.  Many people have old habits and can benefit from learning new patterns that will improve intimacy generally.  A course of work with me on “Relationship Development,” is an investment for the long-term if you want to go beyond immediate problems. 

My background includes special training in communications based on a research program called "Relationship Enhancement" by Bernard Guerney at Pennsylvania State University. This very practical and successful approach involves learning concepts and skills for listening with empathy and expressing thoughts and feelings effectively, along with conflict management and negotiating skills.  See their 10 Relationship Enhancement® Skills on the website for the National Institute of Relationship Enhancement, where I am a provider. I also use material from Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Compassion, by Marshall Rosenberg, and have had training in that approach. 

In working with me, couples who are motivated and follow through on exercises at home can expect significant change. Consulting sessions are open-ended in duration because every couple is unique and some assessment is necessary.  That is, RD (Relationship Development)  is not a set "program" even though there is a set of building blocks for important skills.  Most couples meet with me weekly after their hour-and-a-half initial meeting, and we go from there depending on your needs and goals.  


However, you can plan on significant improvement in 4 weeks and major changes in 10 weeks (provided you do your part!).  Since I am confident of this, I have a 10-session package that I offer for the price of 9 sessions.   My fee structure is a sliding scale of $125 - $155 per hour, depending on income.  Financing is available.  New clients are invited to call for a complimentary 20-minute phone consultation for more information and to schedule an appointment.  510-292-0509 or drwinell [at] gmail [dot] com


More about Relationship Development


My goal with every couple is to help you learn to talk about anything and everything without fear.  The communication skills serve to solve problems and also bring you into a closer relationship as you share and listen more deeply.


A second area of focus in my work with couples is sexuality, and again my approach is a step-by-step educational process.   Myths and expectations about sex in long-term relationships can be a problem, as well as anxiety, habituation, and other issues.  I'll work with you to explore your unique situation and help you with activities at home to restore sensuality and vitality to your sex life. 


In addition, I emphasize individual responsibility and mature self-care within relationships. I'll work with you to examine core assumptions, explore the balance of individuality and intimacy, and apply concrete behavior changes. I stress actual practicing of new skills, both in our sessions and for "homework."


In all of my consulting, I strive to help clients understand the context of their lives in our modern society.  We have many stresses due simply to the culture in which we live (e.g. economic pressure, scattered families, lack of social networks or support for new parents, alienating work, problems with health care safety net).   I believe distinguishing these environmental and social issues from personal problems is crucial in order to creatively cope with these realities. 


Comments from clients

 • Cherie T. Berkeley, CA
      Marlene saved our marriage. Unbeknownst to me, we had drifted apart in our relationship and was feeling bewildered and resentful when we showed up at her couch. Through gentle, dry humor, she made me feel at ease with the process. But the proof is that we are now closer than ever and feeling confident about our future together. She combines teaching about the theory (in our case about communication and seeing each other's point of view) with actual practice so that we can learn how to handle issues as they crop up rather than waiting until we had another session.

• Julie A.,  Berkeley, CA
      Marlene is wonderful with couples.  My partner and I started seeing Marlene in a time of crisis and she really helped us work it through; now our relationship is stronger than ever.  One of the key elements of her work is training couples in how to communicate effectively.  Marlene works with couples so that each member learns not only how to express what s/he feels and needs but also to hear what the other feels and needs (she even gives you exercises so you can practice at home!).  This tool has been invaluable for us.   Also, my partner and I have both discovered that this form of communication has real benefits on how we communicate with other people, at work and in our social circles.   I highly recommend Marlene!

• Lee T.,  Berkeley, CA

     When we were at a difficult point in our relationship, Marlene brought issues into perspective and worked with us to develop better communication skills.   She also worked with me one on one and in a "Monster Wrangling Group" to address negative patterns in my own life.   We've become a stronger couple and I'm a happier person.  Highly recommended!

• Jeff S., Berkeley, CA 
     She helped us learn empathic communication techniques and work on really "hearing" each other. Week by week she helped us navigate the way back to a healthy, rewarding relationship. I particularly liked the "homework" and assigned reading that my partner and I did together.  I don't have enough good words for her. Thanks Marlene!


• Suzanne S., Oakland, CA

      I definitely recommend Marlene as a couple's educator.  We saw her for about a year and although my husband was initially hesitant to see anyone, she was able to make him feel comfortable and it ended up being a great experience for both of us.  Marlene is practical and helps you move forward without dwelling on the past.  She helped us both become more empathetic towards each other and increased our communication skills significantly.


• Misun, Hayward, CA

     Marlene Winell deserves 5 stars because of her 1) dedication to break our negative patterns of behavior, 2) use of extreme creativity when it comes to solving complex communication problems, 3) extending our couples counseling into a deeper level of individual counseling, so that the problems we individually bring to the marriage don't resurface later.
     My husband and I began going to her when my son was 7 months old and we needed to do everything we could to save our rocky marriage for baby's sake. The last 5 months have been extremely helpful in terms of lowering the number of fights we have in general and in front of our children, and also has helped us feel stronger as a family and as happier individuals. She is skilled at overcoming communication problems because she gave us the tools to overcome communication blocks ourselves, so that in the future, we now know how to solve these issues on our own. I cannot give enough praise for Marlene Winell as an excellent couples' therapist/speech therapist/psychologist for all the hats that she wears and all the knowledge and experience she utilized to help us save our marriage.


Parenting and Family Development

I also have extensive experience with family dynamics, adolescent issues, and parenting skills. I help parents learn concepts and skills and apply them at home between sessions.  Telephone consultation is available as a "parenting coach." This service is a supplement for families in therapy or for parents at a distance who cannot meet in person.