George W. Bitar, Ph.D.
I grew up in Tucson, AZ and gradually migrated east, until moving to Charlotte in 2009 with my wife, Faith. On the way to Charlotte, I lived in west Texas for a significant period of time where I attended Abilene Christian University (ACU) for my undergraduate and master’s degrees and Texas Tech University for my Doctorate. Faith and I met in our master’s program at ACU and married in 2003. We both accepted faculty positions in the Marriage & Family Therapy (MFT) Program at Pfeiffer University, which prompted our move to Charlotte. I taught in the MFT program for five years, while also building our private practice. I then decided to transition into full-time private practice, in order to devote more professional energy to my clinical work. I specialize in helping couples navigate through difficult and painful issues, such as infidelity, relationship neglect, addiction, and major life transitions.
I’m continually inspired by how motivated couples can heal from years of distance and disconnection in a relatively short period of time, when they are given a supportive space to explore unmet needs and learn more connecting ways of interacting. My job is to create this healing space for couples. I also work with individual clients on issues related to anxiety, depression, and addiction by carefully listening to each person’s unique experience and discussing practical strategies that enable clients to reach their goals. When not at the practice, I enjoy spending time with family, chasing around our toddler, and binge watching the occasional Netflix show:-). I also enjoy studying Eastern philosophy and have been on several intensive meditation retreats.
About Dr. George W. Bitar
General Professional Background
- Ph.D. in Marriage & Family Therapy from Texas Tech University.
- Awarded the Outstanding Student Award during master’s program for his clinical and academic work.
- Past Director of Behavioral Healthcare Services at the Southwest Institute for Addictive Diseases, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.
- Published several articles in peer-reviewed journal on the topics of substance abuse, cross-cultural counseling, and the integration of mental health care in primary care settings.
- Past Associate Professor of Marriage & Family Therapy at Pfeiffer University.
- United Methodist Exemplary Teaching Award recipient at Pfeiffer University.
- Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in North Carolina, Texas, & Arizona.
- Completed several intensive meditation retreats, including those with Jon Kabat-Zinn and Tara Brach.
- American Association of Marriage & Family Therapy – Clinical Member.
- Discernment Counselor.
Advanced Trainings in Couples Therapy
Couples therapy and individual therapy require very different skill sets. Many therapist who primarily work with individuals tweak their approach in working with couples. Unfortunately, these slightly modified approaches have poor success and high relapse rates. Fortunately, a new generation of specialized treatments have emerged with high success rates (75%-90% in clinical trials). Dr. Bitar has been extensively trained in these approaches, including Gottman Method Couples Therapy and Emotionally-Focused Couples Therapy, in addition to having a Ph.D. in marriage therapy and 15 years of experience working with couples.
This model is based on the 40 years of pioneering work by Drs. John & Julie Gottman and is grounded in the science of what makes marriages succeed and fail. Their model has been shown to reduce divorce and significantly increase relationship satisfaction. Their methods are excellent in building communication skills and adding an educational component to couples therapy that most couples find very appealing. Here is Dr. Bitar’s speciality training in this approach:
- Certified Gottman Method Therapist.
- This included extensive training with Drs. John & Julie Gottman in Seattle, WA.
- Required extensive supervision and mentorship by other Certified therapists.
- 7-Principles for Making Marriage Work Leader.
- This is a workshop version of Dr. Gottman’s best selling book by the same name.
- This allows for a educational component to couples therapy, when appropriate.
- Art & Science of Love Workshop Leader.
- This is an advanced workshop that can only be facilitated by Certified Gottman Method Therapists.
- Based on leading edge relationship research.
- Completed the advanced Gottman Couples, Addiction, & Recovery Training.
- Currently participating in a clinical trial involving the application of this approach to affair recovery.
- Trained with a select group of Certified Gottman Method Therapists at Drs. Julie & John Gottmans’ home in Orca’s Island, WA.
This approach was created by Dr. Susan Johnson and is based on the significant body of scientific work on attachment theory. This model demonstrates high success rates (75%-90%) and low relapse rates in rigorous clinical trials. EFT is excellent at helping couples understand the deeper needs and longings that often underlie hostile and/or disconnecting cycles. Here is Dr. Bitar’s speciality training in this approach:
- Certified Emotionally Focused Couples Therapist.
- Included several years of advanced training in attachment-oriented couples work.
- Required intensive supervision by other Certified therapists.
- Member of the International Center for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy.
- Facilitator of the couples workshop based on this model.
This approach is very useful when one or both partners are deeply ambivalent about whether they want to even invest in couples therapy to begin with and/or work on their marriage. This structure allows for each partner to gain greater clarity and a sense of direction in whether to begin couples therapy, leave things as they are, or move toward divorce mediation. Dr. Bitar is part of the Discernment Counseling Alliance for Marriage Professionals.
Dr. Bitar is a member of the AEDP Institute and completed Level I training in the approach. The approach integrates the research from interpersonal neurobiology, attachment theory, emotion theory, and affective neuroscience.
Past individual trauma and other unresolved life challenges can be helpful to address, while also working on the dynamics between the couple. EMDR provides a science-based way to approach these individual challenges that can create more healing of past issues which, in turn, can increase a person’s capacity to connect more deeply in the present with a partner. Dr. Bitar can integrate the EMDR process into couples work, when appropriate.