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Couples Therapy Los Angeles: Reconnect and Heal Your Relationship

marriage counseling los angeles - Olive Drakeford Therapy

Meet OLIVER DRAKEFORD: 
Couples Therapy Los Angeles

I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a Gottman Method Level One Certified Couples Therapist with nearly a decade of experience providing couples therapy in Los Angeles. I previously served as the Clinical Director of a residential treatment center in Malibu and occasionally as an Adjunct Professor at Antioch University Los Angeles.

A Welcoming SPACE: Therapy Office in Los Angeles

My office is conveniently located in the heart of West Hollywood, close to Culver City, Beverly Hills and Los Angeles.

 

I also offer online sessions for residents of California. I do have a limited number of sliding scale sessions available, so my fees range from $150 - $250

My Therapeutic Approach:
Tailored Strategies for Every Couple

My marriage counseling approach draws from my extensive training in psychoanalytic theory from LAISPS, emotionally focused therapy, and family systems perspectives to facilitate better communication, identify relationship patterns, and make meaningful changes.

Client Stories:
Real Impact of MY Therapy Sessions

The absolute best. Oliver Drakeford is the most talented and knowledgeable therapist I've ever encountered." Anonymous

"The tools you provided us are working to better help my family during our daily lives and overcome some very difficult situations. GRACIAS!!" Anonymous

HOW I WORK:
The CORE BELIEFS THAT GUIDE MY Couples Therapy Practice

I offer a welcoming, LGBTQ+-affirming environment for partners of all backgrounds. I specialize in serving LGBTQ+ couples and families. I am dedicated to cultural competence and inclusion, seeking out continued training and supervision to challenge my own biases and provide sensitive care so all couples feel safe, accepted, and empowered. Schedule a free consultation call with me today by clicking on the link below, and I can answer any questions you have about relationship therapy.

Handpicked THERAPY Resources:
for Couples STARTING Therapy 

If you are looking for more support around your relationship some of my favorite resources are listed further down this page. I've included the 'Unmet Emotional Needs Worksheet', a range of books I find helpful, and the 'Couples Conflict Style Quiz'.

CREATING GREAT Communication SKILLS:
ThE Key TO Relationship Healing

Couples often come to therapy wanting or needing help with communication. This is usually always an important aspect of relationship counseling and plays a vital part in the work that I do. You can find out more about how and why this is important here.

Interactive RELATIONSHIP Quiz: 'Do We Need Couples Therapy?' Quiz:

Quiz

Perhaps you are not sure if Couples Therapy is right for you or have some doubts as to whether you need it. I created an online quiz based on a very reputable marital satisfaction assessment used in couples counseling and clinical psychology. High scores tend to indicate there's a good deal of pleasure or mutual connection, whereas lower scores, particularly those lower than 85, indicate your relationship is potentially strained and has a higher chance of severe difficulties in the future.

Find out more about couples therapy in these blog posts

A Personalized APPROACH WITH Therapy Techniques THAT ARE RIGHT FOR YOUR Relationship

My approach to marriage counseling, rooted in family systems theory, The Gottman Method and Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy, is shown in studies to effectively address key factors that contribute to 68% of a couple's relationship satisfaction.

 

This includes all kinds of marriage and family challenges such as communication issues, and intimacy concerns. 

68%

Learn more about the three main ways I approach marriage counseling here:

emotionally focused therapy in los angeles

Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy

the gottman method and couples counseling

The Gottman 
Method

couples and family therapy from a family systems perspective

Family Systems Therapy

Diverse Relationship Challenges and How I HELP Address Them

As a relationship therapist, I strive to create a safe space for romantic partners, including married couples, to discuss their relationship struggles openly. This includes addressing issues like sexual identity concerns, life changes, self-esteem issues, and sexual desires. My approach to therapy is informed by Family Systems theory with a psychodynamic influence. If you're familiar with the work of Esther Perel, you might have a sense of my therapeutic approach.

Depression

Anxiety

Trauma

Anger Management

Life Transitions

Sexual Concerns

Marriage and Family Problems

Sexual Identity

Intimacy Issues

Parenting Problems

Communication Problems

In-Law / Family Issues

Substance Abuse 

Grief and Bereavement

Life Changes and Life Cycle Challenges

Sexual Identity Issues

Life Changes

Self-esteem issues

Sexual Desires

Family Conflict

How Does Couples Therapy Work?

How does understanding one's past experiences and triggers impact the dynamics of a couple's relationship within the context of therapy?

 

By exploring and understanding one's past experiences and triggers, individuals in couples therapy can gain insights into why they react in certain ways within the relationship. This understanding allows partners to communicate more effectively, manage conflicts better, and foster empathy and understanding towards each other, ultimately improving the overall relationship dynamic.2

 

What role does individual self-awareness and exploration play in couples therapy, and how does it contribute to improving relationships?

 

Couples therapy emphasizes that through the process, individuals gain a deeper understanding of themselves, their triggers, and their past experiences. This self-awareness helps individuals recognize how their behaviors and patterns impact their partner and the relationship as a whole, leading to improved communication, empathy, and relational dynamics.

 

In what ways do both partners contribute to tension in a relationship, and how does couples therapy address this dynamic?

 

Couples therapy acknowledges that in most cases, both partners play a role in contributing to the tension within the relationship. By addressing the couple as a unit and also focusing on the individuals, therapy aims to uncover how each person's actions, triggers, and past experiences contribute to the overall relationship dynamic.

 

How does couples therapy address deeper issues beyond day-to-day conflicts?

Couples therapy focuses on getting to the root of what's truly bothering individuals in a relationship, beyond just the surface-level day-to-day conflicts. It aims to uncover and address the more profound underlying issues that are causing problems within the relationship.

Building Strong Relationships with The Gottman Method

couples and family therapy and the gottman method
Gottman

The Gottman Method is based on over 40 years of clinical research on couples. and aims to deepen friendship, improve conflict management, and help couples support each other's hopes and dreams.

My relationship counseling approach is tailored to each couple but includes three key phases:

Understanding The Issues and Patterns.

We'll begin with a series of joint sessions to fully understand your relationship patterns - both positive and negative. I use a series of interview skills, circular questioning, and assessments to help deepen my understanding of your relationships.

Strategies and Techniques I Use In Couples Therapy.

Managing Conflict & Conflict Resolution

  • Teaching skills like softening startup, taking breaks, and repair attempts to reduce negative conflict patterns

Building Intimacy and Connection

  • Guiding couples in articulating shared goals, rituals, roles, and symbols that reflect their identity as a couple.

  • Structured intimacy questions, date night ideas, and homework around Couples Check-In's.

Consolidation

Before you end your relationship counseling journey, it's important to take a few sessions to make sure 'the paint has dried'. We'll focus on consolidating new skills into your relationship and articulating a shared vision for your future together that involves more connection and intimacy.

Understanding Relationship Dynamics: The Role of Family Systems Therapy

Couples and family therapy and family systems
Systems

Family Systems Theory is a way of viewing families and relationship counseling that has been evolving since the 1950's. I use a lot of Bowen Family Systems and Structural Family Systems in my work, depending on the situation. 

See the System

Viewing couples as interconnected systems and identifying patterns, roles, boundaries, and communication styles that constitute system dynamics. This might involve constructing a genogram or family map to help gain insight into underlying issues like anxiety, depression and stress.

Modifying The System​

Changing Unhelpful Family Patterns and Structures.

  • Family Systems is where the ideas of 'boundaries' in relationships come from; healthy boundaries create healthy couples. 

Improving Communication​

  • Decades of research and studies from Family Systems Psychotherapists show us how vital clear communication is in healthy relationships, your couples counselor will help you communicate effectively, which may also include helping with conflict resolution skills,

Systemic Interventions

Customizing interventions based on an assessment of relationship patterns and dynamics, with goal of helping partners and the entire system change in constructive ways. 

Deepening Connections: The Power of Emotionally Focused Therapy

marriage counseling los angeles

This structured short-term approach typically involves 8-20 sessions and is based on attachment theory. EFT aims to help couples identify negative patterns in their relationship and understand the underlying emotional needs driving those patterns. Through EFT, I coach couples to express their needs and emotions in a vulnerable way and respond with empathy and understanding. This builds trust and a secure attachment.

The therapy involves three main stages:

Understanding The Patterns and Cycles

I help couples pinpoint their negative interaction cycle and name the root cause of any primary emotions fueling each person's role in the cycle. This allows us to reframe the issue as an unconscious, unmet attachment need.

Restructure Interactions

Couples learn to express attachment needs and hidden emotions openly. I provide in-vivo coaching to help partners respond with acceptance and compassion rather than criticism or stonewalling. This transforms emotional responses.

Consolidation 

Couples practice maintaining their new interaction patterns through ongoing emotional communication. We implement solutions to past issues and integrate EFT principles into the relationship. My goal is to guide couples from blaming each other to supporting each other in getting their unmet needs met. This creates lasting change by addressing the root of relationship problems.

EFT

A Case Study & EXAMPLE OF EMOTIONALLY FOCUSED COUPLES & MARRIAGE COUNSELING

couples therapy in los angeles and emotionally focused therapy

When couples step into my office, they often bring with them a hidden choreography—a pattern of interaction where emotional needs go unmet, leading to a cycle of conflict and withdrawal. It's my role to illuminate this dance, helping partners to see the steps they're taking and why they might feel stuck in a place of disconnection and dissatisfaction. 

Let me show you a case study to demonstrate how I helped one couple* we shall call Barbie and Ken, work through their unhelpful relationship patterns. 

 

This pattern, a 'dance' of pursuit and withdrawal, is a common one in many relationships, where one partner's active attempts to seek connection inadvertently lead the other to retreat. Both Ken and Barbie are driven by deep-seated emotions and unmet needs that they may not fully understand or see. In therapy, we work to identify these patterns and bring the underlying emotions and needs into the light, so that the 'dance' can be transformed into one that brings them together rather than pushing them apart.

Emotionally Focused Therapy s: the pattern

In their relationship, Barbie struggles with feeling disconnected from Ken, making her world feel lonely.

This emotional distance often breeds unease in Barbie, leading to moments of simmering irritation that inevitably spill over into exasperated and snippy exchanges.

marriage counseling los angeles and west hollywood
emotionally focused therapy for couples in los angeles

This emotional chasm often breeds a disquiet in Barbie, a simmering irritation that, despite her best intentions, bubbles over into exasperated and snippy interactions.

These barbed words, though not meant to wound, land heavily on Ken, echoing in the hollows of his unspoken vulnerabilities. They trigger a deep-seated fear of rejection, a primal echo of abandonment that resonates within him. It's an unconscious attachment wound from his past that he carries into their present, a tender spot that Barbie's words unintentionally press

couples and marriage counseling in los angeles
marriage counseling west hollywood

Reeling from this perceived rejection, Ken finds himself adrift in a sea of negative emotions, swamped by a sense of helplessness, encased in fear, and feeling utterly powerless to navigate the storm.

Ken's defense mechanisms spring to life as his internal world tips into chaos. He becomes numb, his emotions retreating behind a wall of confusion as if his psyche is scrambling to apply a balm to the sudden sharpness he feels

counseling for couples and marriage therapy west hollywood

MY COUPLES COUNSELING PRACTICE IN LOS ANGELES | West HOLLYWOOD

I offer in-person sessions in my private practice in Los Angeles, specifically tailored to couples dealing with life transitions, sexual identity concerns, and other relationship issues. I'm lucky enough to have a wonderful loft space that is large enough for relationship and family therapy. 

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My office is located at 8702 Santa Monica Blvd, in between La Cienega Blvd and San Vicente in WeHo.

Testimonials

Client testimonials: SOME SUCCESS STORIES FROM RELATIONSHIP COUNSELING:

 

You can see some of the impact my work has had on my through the voices of those who've experienced it firsthand. These testimonials were not solicited and are collected from various online websites but reflect the diverse journeys and successes of couples, including those dealing with marriage, communication problems, and intimacy issues.

The tools you provided us are working to better help my family during our daily lives and overcome some very difficult situations. GRACIAS

J.R

Professional, caring, involved, and effective.  Our family cannot recommend more!

GM

The entire family has learned so much & it's completely changed our perspective on communication and parenting, as a whole.

LdG

Best therapy my daughter and I ever received <3

APO

Resources

Embark on a journey of discovery and healing at your own pace. Dive into our carefully curated resources, including exclusive, free worksheets crafted from my extensive experience in couples counseling. These tools are designed to provide valuable insights and practical steps for strengthening your relationship. Whether you're just starting to explore therapy or seeking additional guidance, these resources are a testament to my commitment to supporting couples in their journey towards a deeper connection and understanding.

My Exclusive Relationship TOOLS AND DOWNLOADS:

THE SIX RELATIONSHIP NEEDS (6)_edited.jp

Unmet Emotional Needs

unmet needs in a relationship

Relationship Boundaries

the relationship repair wheel

Relationship Repair Wheel

UNMET EMOTIONAL NEEDS WORKSHEET

A vital part of marriage counseling is often to help discover how to identify and fulfill six key emotional needs crucial for thriving relationships. Our worksheet simplifies these concepts, explaining each need's role - from seeking stability to encouraging growth. It's designed to help you understand and improve how you and your partner interact and support each other.

You will learn what each of the 6 emotional needs are and understand the impact of unmet emotional needs on your relationships. The worksheet will help you have conversations with your partner that aim to help you gain valuable insights into the motivations and behaviors that drive each of you in the relationship.

RELATIONSHIP & MARRIAGE BOUNDARIES

Boundaries are the foundation of respect, individuality, and personal well-being within any marriage or relationship. This PDF resource helps further work in marriage counseling and helps you establish and maintain healthy boundaries, ensuring that both partners feel respected, heard, and valued.

Learn to set and respect boundaries that preserve individuality and mutual respect in your relationship. Our resource guides you in defining personal space, protecting your emotional health, and balancing priorities, all essential for a harmonious and respectful partnership.

THE RELATIONSHIP REPAIR WHEEL WORKSHEET

Discover the positive side of conflicts and learn to use them to strengthen your relationship. Our Relationship Repair Wheel guides you through a step-by-step approach to resolve conflicts constructively, enhance trust, and deepen your emotional bond. An excellent addition to some of the work I do in marriage counseling.

Unresolved conflicts can lead to resentment, communication gaps, and strained trust, pushing partners apart emotionally. The Relationship Repair Wheel provides a step-by-step process to repair relationships, starting with laying out the facts, sharing thoughts and feelings, and expressing needs for the future.

MORE Resources FOR COUPLES & COUPLES Counseling

Books:

"The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work" by John Gottman: This book by renowned therapist John Gottman provides practical advice and insights into improving relationships and marriages, a go-to for most couples therapists in Los Angeles. 

 

  • Link: Amazon

 

"Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love" by Dr. Sue Johnson: Dr. Sue Johnson's book delves into the science of attachment and offers guidance for strengthening emotional bonds in couples, and a primer on emotionally focused couples therapy. 

 

 

"Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence" by Esther Perel: Esther Perel is a renowned couples therapist, and in this book, she explores the complex interplay between intimacy and desire in long-term relationships, also a great read for premarital counseling. 

 

 

Websites

Gottman Institute:

  • Website: https://www.gottman.com/

  • The Gottman Institute, founded by renowned relationship experts John and Julie Gottman, offers research-based articles, tools, and resources to improve relationships. Their research focuses on the science of love and relationships.

  • Intimacy Love Language Assessment Quiz

  • Website: https://5lovelanguages.com

  • Gary Chapman introduced the idea of the 5 Love Languages, helping us understand that we all have our own preferences regarding how we like to give or receive love. Similarly, we have unique preferences regarding how we like to feel close and connected. There are three kinds of intimacy: emotional intimacy, physical intimacy, and intellectual intimacy.

  • Conflict Style Quiz

  • Website: https://WhatsYourConflictStyle.com

  • Knowing your conflict style can be the start of transforming your relationship, especially when facing challenges like life changes, sexual identity concerns, and self-esteem issues. When you understand the automatic patterns of interaction that go on in your relationship, it becomes much easier to break them.

  • COUPLES THERAPY BLOG POSTS

    couples therapy los angeles

    What TO EXPECT IN COUPLES THERAPY:

    Couples counseling can be an invaluable tool to turn a relationship around, especially when facing life transitions, sexual identity issues, or challenges in parenting. With over ten years of experience working with couples, I am sensitive to providing tools and techniques that address these specific issues.

    I primarily look at reciprocal relationship patterns and how to shift them if they are not helpful; one partner will often feel that things are imbalanced in the relationship by saying something like:

    • The more you ____ the less they.____

    • I do all the cleaning .... and they just create mess___

    • I always initiate sex.... they never seem to be interested...

    Imbalances in relationships of any kind are one of the things I am on the lookout for in the first few sessions. Imbalances or inequalities in a relationship are not necessarily the cause of problems, but when they're not talked about or discussed, things get tricky.

     

    Blame has no place in our couple's therapy in my opinion! A family systems background informs my therapeutic process, and I will help you understand each other, your patterns of interaction, and new ways of connecting instead of these automatic behavioral loops.  

     

    Couples counselors such as myself, will work to create a safe environment with you both, to move towards finding practical solutions that make you feel closer to each other.

     

    I aim to provide valuable insight into why your partner behaves or reacts the way they do to improve your relationship dynamics. As the dynamics change, you will see your relationship through new eyes and regain physical and emotional intimacy.

     

    Attending therapy works best in the early conflict stages, but it’s never too late to start. Our experienced couples therapist can help you strengthen and rebuild your relationship, no matter what stage.

    Addressing a Spectrum of Relationship Challenges

    Communication is the foundation of any healthy relationship. It is how we express our needs, desires, and feelings to our partner. However, many couples struggle with effective communication, leading to misunderstandings, arguments, and feelings of resentment.

    Couples therapy is designed to help couples improve their communication skills and build a stronger, more satisfying relationship. In therapy, couples learn how to express themselves clearly, listen actively, and resolve conflicts in a healthy and productive manner.

    couples therapists for communication los angeles

    DOES COUPLES THERAPY REALLY WORK?

    Curious if couples therapy works? The answer is a resounding yes! Decades of research show significant improvements in relationships post-therapy. While results vary, the data offers hope and new ways for couples to connect and grow together.

     

    • This comprehensive study protocol addresses a crucial question: Can couple counseling truly make a difference in relationships? The existing research, though limited, paints an optimistic picture.

      • It suggests that couples who engage in counseling often see a notable improvement in their relationship satisfaction. This isn't just a fleeting change; the benefits appear to extend over both the short and long term.

      • The study underscores the potential of couple counseling to mend and strengthen relationships, highlighting the need for a little help in some more in-depth research to solidify these promising findings.

     

    • This study is a beacon of hope for couples facing relationship challenges. It reveals that couple's therapy sessions has shown significant effectiveness in boosting relationship satisfaction.

      • Most couples who undergo therapy report a positive change, especially in the short term. This research isn't just about numbers and data; it's a testament to the evolving and improving methods in couple therapy.

      • As we move through the 2020s, the field is witnessing emerging developments that promise even more effective and tailored effective ways to heal relationships. This study is a strong argument in favor of couple therapy as a tool for nurturing and salvaging romantic bonds.

     

    • This study brings a refreshing perspective by examining couple therapy in real-life settings in the United Kingdom. Moving away from the controlled environments of clinical trials, it explores how couple therapy fares in the complexity of everyday life.

      • The findings are heartening: couples in these settings often experience meaningful improvements in their relationships.

      • This study is a compelling argument that couple therapy isn't just a theoretical concept confined to research papers; it's a practical, effective tool that can bring about real change in couples' lives. It's a strong endorsement for couples considering therapy as a way to mend and enrich their relationships.

     

    Please schedule a call for an initial consultation to see if you think I might be able to help you. I offer in-person therapy in my West Hollywood Office and offer online therapy sessions, too.

    couples therapy in los angeles

    Meet Oliver Drakeford: AN Expert in Marriage Counseling and Family Systems

    Couples Therapy Los Angeles and West Hollywood: Oliver Drakeford

    As an authority in family systems therapy, my career is marked by accolades and contributions to the field. I am a recipient of the prestigious Donald Brown Scholarship for Group Psychotherapy, acknowledging my innovative work in this area. My thought leadership extends to published articles in notable outlets like 'The Zoe Report' and 'Medium', sharing insights from my extensive practice.

    My full biography is here

    LEARNING

    CERTIFICATIONS AND LICENSE

    • Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist #104987

    • The Gottman Method Level One Certification

    • Psychoanalytic Studies: LAISPS 

    • Modern Group Therapy Certification: The Center For Group Studies, NY 

    AWARDS

    • The Group Foundation for Advancing Mental Health: The Donald Brown Scholarship for Group Psychotherapy. 

    SPEAKING & TEACHING ENGAGEMENTS

    ​​​

    • The Britley- January 2024

    • Insight Treatment Center IOP - Family Systems Trainings and Consultation Groups, 2022.

    • OKHumans, In-Service Training - Family Systems - Structural Mapping, 2022

    • Meridian Counseling, Los Angeles, Structural Mapping and Family Systems, 2022.

    • Antioch Community Therapy Services - In Service Psychotherapy Training. Family Systems, 2021

    • The Maple Counseling Center - Maple Alumni Association. Modern Psychoanalytic Theory: Techniques. 2021.

    • Pacific Teen Treatment Center - In Service Training.  Family Systems Training - Structural Interventions. 2021

    Disclaimer: The advice and exercises provided on this website are for informational purposes only and should not replace consultations with qualified mental health professionals

    About Me

    Expert Answers to Your Couples Therapy Questions: Everything You Need to Know

    What type of couples therapy is best?

    The best couples therapy is one that embraces a holistic approach that looks at the entire system, addressing both the individual's past and present and the significant influences on their lives. By delving into the depths of a person's experiences and psychological nuances, this therapy aims to uncover the root causes behind behaviors and emotions within the relationship.

     

    Rather than focusing solely on surface issues, this method strives to understand how past experiences shape one's present behaviors and emotional responses, ultimately leading to a more effective and profound therapeutic process.

    Is Couples Therapy Ever Too Late To Start?

    There's often a concern people have that comes in the form of the question: "When is couples therapy too late?"

    Couples therapy may be considered too late when fundamental trust and communication issues have deteriorated to a point where both partners are unwilling or unable to engage in the process. When there is a pervasive lack of commitment or openness to change, couples therapy may not be effective. Additionally, if one or both partners have already checked out emotionally or mentally from the relationship, the likelihood of successful intervention decreases.

     

    If you're reading this, it might speak to a commitment to your relationship and a willingness to continue working through your issues, so book that consultation call with us now.

    It is crucial to seek couples therapy as early as possible when difficulties arise, as unresolved issues can compound over time. Early intervention allows for a better chance of addressing and resolving conflicts before they escalate and become more entrenched. In many cases, the sooner couples seek therapy and commit to working on their relationship, the more likely they are to achieve a positive outcome.

    What's the recommended frequency for attending couples therapy sessions?

    This varies per couple, but typically, a marriage and family therapist will want weekly sessions to be common at the start, possibly reducing frequency as progress is made.

    Why might someone feel worse after a couples counseling session?

    It's not uncommon for clients to feel worse initially as you begin to explore sensitive issues. This can be a necessary part of the healing process, and you should feel free to address this with your family therapist.

    What are typical issues that couples bring to therapy?

    Common issues people address with a family therapist include communication problems, trust issues, feeling overwhelmed, depression, anxiety, intimacy concerns, and conflicts about finances or parenting.

    What differentiates couples therapy from couples counseling?

    The terms are often used interchangeably. However, some perceive therapy with a marriage and family therapist as more in-depth, addressing deeper issues, while counseling might focus on resolving specific conflicts.

    Should all couples consider therapy?

    Many couples can benefit from couples counseling, not just those in crisis. It can strengthen relationships and improve communication. Are there any potential negatives to couples therapy? It can be challenging, emotionally taxing, and might not always yield the desired results. However, many find it beneficial.

    Does seeking couples therapy mean a relationship is nearing its end?

    Not necessarily. Many couples seek family therapy to strengthen their bond and resolve issues, not just as a last resort.

    What's the cost range for couples therapy in Los Angeles?

    Costs vary between each couple and family therapist, typically ranging from $150 to $350 per hour and sometimes higher. You're paying for the quality of work and the therapist's experience. Oliver Drakeford Therapy is in the $150-$250 range, depending on if you see Oliver or one of his experienced and trained associates.

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