About Melissa Pilarski, MA, MFTC

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Melissa Pilarski

Melissa Pilarski
MA, MFTC

I was still a kid myself when I first knew I wanted to be a therapist. I attended a new school almost every year growing up because my family frequently relocated for my mother’s career. Moving so often cultivated a genuine curiosity in me to learn about new people, different cultures, and the various ways people relate to each other. And my exposure to those who were different than I was ignited in me the passion to help others.

Prior to joining Colorado Center for Couples and Families (CCCF) I had fantastic experiences working for a wonderful private Child and Family Therapy Practice in Florida; as a grief facilitator for individuals and families grieving the death of a loved one; as a clinician for a nonprofit clinic working with adult individuals, couples, and families; and as a clinician for Head Start practicing therapeutic-play with young children and their families. Parents often tell me they appreciate the “fresh perspective” I bring to the table. I think they like me because they can tell that I love coming to work every day, and my enthusiasm is welcoming and lets them know that they are in a safe, non-judgmental place.  I really enjoyed my work with children, but I have felt drawn to work specifically with couples and parents around their relationship concerns. I feel that everyone in a family benefits when there are healthier ways of relating.

I earned my Masters degree in Marriage, Couples, and Family Therapy from Lewis and Clark College. I loved that program because it taught me to work therapeutically with couples and families from a systemic framework and a social justice framework. I value social justice because I believe people deserve to be treated equitably, and that diversity is a reason for celebration rather than condemnation. And I value systemic work because I believe that it is difficult to treat an individual without also treating the systems in which they live and work. That is why I believe couples work is so valuable, and why it often yields better results than individual therapy.

My husband and I love to take our dog hiking with us whenever we get the chance. One of my favorite memories was a 12 mile hike through the mountains of Washington to a destination “hidden waterfall”. As the sun started to set before we found the waterfall, I suggested we might need to turn around to head home. My then-boyfriend insisted we continue to the waterfall, where he surprised me by asking me to marry him! We trekked home through the dark forest, and jumped a few times at the sound of large animals around us, but the adventure was well worth it. I find this story to be a metaphor for my professional work. I have learned that when we walk together through the hard times, we come out on the other side more committed and more dedicated to the people we love. My husband and I still love to find new trails and new adventures through our life together. The walks can sometimes be hard, but I am glad to have him with me at the end.

I have found working with couples to be the most fulfilling of endeavors. It is always an honor to witness the soothing of relational distress and the strengthening of family that it produces. Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT) provides the framework that we use here at CCCF to help couples navigate their struggles and feel closer and more secure with each other. It helps them discover the beauty of their relationship, increases their individual happiness, and fosters the growth of healthy kids and families.

I love my work. So, if you are feeling lost or hopeless in your relationship, I am confident that together we can walk down a new path of clarity and healing.