Call for your appointment: 941-306-1235

Introducing Counseling Associates of Sarasota and

Marilyn Halls MA, LMHC

Welcome to Counseling Associates of Sarasota where I provide couples counseling and more.

Life’s rewards and challenges

I believe that we each have a compelling and unique story to tell.  Our lives can be rich in experiences and very rewarding both emotionally and materially.  But we all face challenges that arise in relationships, from losses of loved ones and life transitions.  Often such events can cause anxiety or depression.

Help is close-at-hand

I believe that the decision to come to counseling is a brave first step on your journey of self-discovery leading to the life that you desire for yourself.  After reading this introduction to my counseling practice, I hope you will get a good understanding of the help I can provide.  I invite you to determine if and when you want to take that all-importance first step with me.

Couples Counseling

I would like to commend you both for considering couples or marital therapy.

Counseling’s Role in Improving Relationships

Research has shown that couples counseling is highly effective in improving relationship quality, and its benefits can last for years. It’s adaptable to different types of couples, including unmarried couples, couples preparing for marriage, same-sex couples and those experiencing significant life transitions such as relocation or becoming empty nesters.

My Use of the Gottman Method

I’ve been trained in The Gottman Method of Couples Therapy including addressing trauma and infidelity. It is a research-based approach to relationship therapy that emphasizes the importance of emotional connection and healthy communication between partners. Developed by Drs. John and Julie Gottman, it is built on the “Sound Relationship House” theory and extensive studies on couples in what has been dubbed the “Love Lab.” Our goal in working together will be to help you build a solid foundation of friendship, manage conflicts constructively, and create shared meaning in your relationship.

How does this work?

By addressing communication issues, enhancing emotional intimacy, and providing you with the tools to resolve conflicts, I can help you build a stronger, more resilient partnership. Your willingness to engage in this process reflects the strength of your bond and your desire to create a healthy, fulfilling relationship.

Time for action?

Let’s work together to achieve your goals, thereby making your relationship as strong and healthy as it can be.

Anxiety and Stress

We all recognize that, in today’s fast paced world, increasing numbers of people are feeling anxious and stressed.  You may be one such person.

Is this just stress or is this anxiety?


Common causes of stress include work deadlines, financial problems, relationship issues, and significant life changes such as moving or losing a loved one.


On the other hand, anxiety is more internal and can persist even in the absence of an identifiable stressor. Anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder and social anxiety disorder, are characterized by chronic and excessive worry that interferes with daily life. All can be triggered by various factors, including genetic predisposition, brain chemistry and past traumatic experiences.

The symptoms of anxiety can be both psychological and physical. Psychological symptoms may include constant worry, restlessness, difficulty concentrating, and an overwhelming sense of dread. Physical symptoms often accompany these feelings and can range from increased heart rate and muscle tension to sweating, trembling, and gastrointestinal issues.

My tailored approach to treat anxiety and stress

I use a combination of therapeutic approaches when treating anxiety and stress.  Be assure that I am committed to providing personalized and compassionate care to help you navigate your journey towards managing anxiety and stress and achieving emotional well-being.


 According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 17 million adult Americans suffer from depression during any one year. Depression can affect anyone.

What is depression?

Symptoms vary and include persistent low mood, appetite changes, feelings of worthlessness and at times physical conditions too. In addition, depression carries with it a high cost in terms of relationship problems, family suffering and loss of work productivity.

What causes depression?

A combination of factors is likely to blame for depression, including genetics, neurobiological makeup, gut bacteria, family history, personality and psychological factors, environment, and social factors in growing up.

Is there help for depression?

Depression is a highly treatable illness. Therapy for depression may include counseling to explore underlying issues in one’s thinking and how one relates to others, and possible positive lifestyle changes.  Additionally, medication such as SSRIs (prescribed by your primary doctor or psychiatrist) may be required.

Working together, I can help you navigate through this difficult time and help you restore balance and pleasure to your life.

Grief and loss

The emotional turmoil you’re experiencing can lead to a range of psychological symptoms, including anxiety, depression, and a sense of hopelessness. I want you to know that these feelings are normal. You might notice changes in your appetite, sleep patterns, or ability to concentrate. This stress can also take a physical toll on your body, weakening your immune system and making you more susceptible to illnesses. The intensity and duration of these symptoms can vary widely from person to person, influenced by the nature of your loss, your personality, and the support you receive from others.

Grief Counseling

Sometimes, seeking professional help, such as therapy or counseling, can be very beneficial. Leaning on family, friends, or support groups can provide a sense of connection and understanding, helping you navigate your emotions.

How I will help you

In our sessions, I will help you by providing a safe and supportive space where you can express your feelings openly. Together, we will work through your emotions, develop coping mechanisms, and identify steps you can take toward healing.


Life transitions, such as moving to a new city, changing jobs, divorcing or entering a new stage of life such as parenthood or caring for aging parents, can be really challenging for individuals. One of the hardest parts is the emotional rollercoaster that comes with leaving behind what’s familiar and stepping into the unknown. This often means saying goodbye to old routines and roles, which can lead to feelings of anxiety and sadness. The uncertainty of what’s ahead can make it tough to feel grounded and in control, impacting overall well-being.


Another big challenge people face is learning to navigate new environments and situations. Whether it’s picking up new skills for a job, adjusting to a different culture, or managing new responsibilities, the pressure to adapt quickly can be overwhelming. It’s easy for individuals to feel like they’re not measuring up or like impostors. How well someone handles these changes often depends on their resilience, the support they get from friends and family, and their past experiences with change.

Effects on Relationships

Life transitions also affect relationships and social connections. As people move into different phases of life, it can be hard to keep old friendships going while making new ones. This can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation. Changing dynamics in personal and professional relationships require good communication and sometimes a reevaluation of roles and expectations. Having a strong support system can make a huge difference, providing emotional comfort and practical help during these challenging times.

Personal Experience Guides my Approach to Therapy

I have faced many of these transitions myself including moving to a new country twice. In retrospect I wish I had had more professional help to assist.  Let me help you with your current situation either individually or as a couple.


As a counselor, I use an approach tailored to your needs.  I create a safe and inviting space for you to investigate your own story, share the fullness of your experience, discover your strengths and finally silence the negative tapes that have been playing in your head, holding you back for too long.

I believe that the decision to come to counseling is a brave first step on your journey of self-discovery leading to the life that you desire for yourself.

Is it time for you?

Now that you have browsed my practice introduction, I invite you to  to determine if and when you want to take that all-important first step with me.

If and when you are ready…

If you want guidance to make changes in your life arising from topics touched on here, I invite you to call me today to set up an appointment held on Zoom by either phoning me at (941) 306 1235 or emailing me at [email protected].

I offer a complimentary 15 minute by phone if you have questions you would like answered before beginning counseling.