I'm Heather Varnau, LMHC.

I am passionately dedicated to helping you transform your relationship from one of struggle and strife, to one of security and fulfillment. 

Relationship Therapy for Couples and Individuals in Bellingham, Washington.

It takes a lot of courage to consider therapy. 

It shows that you truly care about your relationship and your own well-being. 

And that’s what I care about too. 

So whether you are here for my 3-day Intensive Marriage Counseling or traditional weekly therapyI can help. 

Over the past 15 years, I’ve guided hundreds of couples through their marital challenges using my unique approach to relationship therapy.

If you are ready to build a stronger connection and a healthier, more intimate partnership, you’ve come to the right place. 

Because that is exactly what I do at Inside Passage Relationship Counseling.

Services

Weekly Individual Therapy

Using mindfulness, attachment-focused, and IFS therapy methods, I can help you heal anxiety, depression, trauma, and relationship problems through individual therapy.

I can help you create the lasting change you need for a happier, healthier life.

3-Day Intensive Marriage Counseling

1 couple + 3 days = accelerated results. 

Go deeper to get farther. Experience the healing benefits of 3-6 months of couples therapy in just 3 days.

You’ll gain a profound understanding of how to reconnect with your partner and learn the essential tools for communication to build a stronger, more intimate relationship. 

Weekly Couples Therapy

As a Certified EFT Couples Therapist and Gottman Method Couples Therapist, I offer a tailored approach to getting to the root of what’s coming between you and your partner. 

I’ll teach you how to build a bridge back to each other.

I believe we are hardwired to bond. My purpose in life is to protect and strengthen that bond.

How is Inside Passage
different?

After years of working as a Relationship Therapist in the traditional  weekly format, I realized that many couples in distress need immediate traction and results. In order to shift deeply ingrained patterns, couples need a way to go deeper, they need to get to the heart of their disconnection.

While traditional weekly therapy is beneficial, it can take longer to build momentum. And, for busy professionals and working families, scheduling weekly appointments can be hard to sustain. 

That’s why I created my 3-day Intensive Marriage Counseling program. 

Combining EFT Couples Therapy and Gottman Method Couples Therapy with my own collaborative, skillful style,  I’ll guide you through 3-6 months of therapy in just 3 days. 

By working intensively, you can experience an immediate reset for your relationship and get your feet firmly planted on a positive path forward.

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Report Positive Change
Heather Varnau LMHC explains her approach to couples counseling

I take the gold standards of couples therapy and combine them in a way that responds artfully to each client’s unique needs. 

What is Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)?

Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) is a short-term structured approach to couples therapy formulated by Dr. Sue Johnson. EFT has been validated by 20 years of empirical research and is approved by the American Psychological Association as an evidence-based therapy. Several meta-analyses have shown that EFT is the most successful approach to couples therapy. 

The Statistics

  • 75% of couples in EFT move from distress to secure emotional connection.
  • 90% report significant improvement in just 15-20 sessions.
  • The results are stable after 2 years.

What is The
Gottman Method?

The Gottman Method combining the knowledge and wisdom of nearly 40 years of studies and clinical practice, Gottman Method Couples Therapy helps couples break through barriers to achieve greater understanding, connection, and intimacy in their relationships through research-based interventions and exercises. It is a structured, goal-oriented, scientifically based therapy. Intervention strategies are based upon empirical data from Dr. Gottman’s study of more than 3,000 couples. This research shows what actually works to help couples achieve a long-term healthy relationship.

The Statistics

  • After an affair, 73% of marriages are saved with Gottman Couples Therapy Method.
  • Often, only after a divorce do people realize the value of their marriage, and regret divorcing.

What is Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS)?

Internal Family Systems is a powerfully transformative mindfulness-based approach to psychotherapy that creates a safe, non-judgemental space to explore the self and its various manifestations.

Internal Family Systems (IFS) is now posted on NREPP as an evidence-based practice. 

The Statistics

  • Extremely effective for improving general functioning and well-being; anxiety, panic, and phobias; physical health symptoms; personal resilience/self-concept; and depressive symptoms. 

About Heather Varnau, LMHC:

I began formal meditation training 19 years ago. Because I saw the immense benefits of mindfulness meditation on my own mental, emotional, physical, and relational health, I pursued a graduate degree in Psychology that focused on the intersection of Buddhist/Eastern and Western psychology. Since graduating in 2006, I have dedicated myself to ongoing post-graduate training and clinical practice in interpersonal mindfulness and relationship therapy.

My husband and I have been happily partnered for 20 years. We’ve spent the past 8 years raising our two children on Lopez Island, WA, where I had a busy therapy practice working exclusively with “off-island” couples from around the country who traveled to Lopez for my 3-Day Intensive Marriage Counseling retreats. In March, 2020, we relocated our family (and my practice) to Bellingham, Washington, to embark upon new adventures and opportunities as a family.

I am excited to offer my 3-Day Intensive Marriage Counseling sessions, as well as weekly individual and couples therapy sessions, at my new Fairhaven location.

When I’m not practicing therapy, I enjoy time with my family, marathon running, travel, and good food.

Education and Training
Naropa University logo with Heather Varnau's credentials
Internal Family Systems certified
EFT logo and proof of certification
Gottman Method approved member
Professional Endorsements
Heather is a dynamite clinician. She is that wonderful blend of very smart and deeply intuitive. Heather exudes warmth and compassion while handling any situation put before her with grace, skill, and competence. I refer to her frequently with the utmost confidence.”
Connie Feutz, MA, LMHC
Psychotherapist and Master Teacher for the Gottman Institute
“I often need to refer my patients to a qualified couples counselor and for over 10 years it has been an absolute relief to recommend Heather Varnau. The work that Heather does is so effective that I see rapid change in the people I work with as a result. She is passionate about helping couples find lasting ways through their challenges. She is compassionate, open minded, curious, and helps both partners feel seen, heard, understood, and supported. We are very lucky to have Heather in the Pacific Northwest!”
Charlotte Underwood, MA, LMHC
Psychotherapist in Private Practice, Anacortes and La Conner, WA
“Heather is a genuine and dedicated professional. She is compassionate with clients and colleagues, and is always striving to be of help to others. She is someone who is constantly learning and growing, being whole-hearted in her life and her work.
Laura Gambrel, PhD, LMFT, LPC
Professor of Psychology and Marriage and Family Therapy—Appalachian State University

Are you ready to:

  • Communicate so that you feel heard, understood, and supported?
  • Deepen your connection and intimacy?
  • Navigate your differences while staying on common ground?
  • Heal relationship wounds from infidelity, betrayal, addiction, and loss?
couple holding hands in therapy

Schedule your FREE consultation today.