common questions about couples therapyCouples Therapy FAQ

It’s normal to feel a bit out of your comfort zone to consider a couples therapy appointment. Some couples have never done therapy and others have had negative past experiences. Couples therapy is also stigmatized in various ways which lead people to have some misconceptions about how couples therapy works. I want you to feel as comfortable as possible coming into our appointment. To do so, I’ve attempted to answer common questions and concerns:

When you work with couples do you meet with both partners together or separately?

When providing couples therapy, my client is your relationship and for that reason I prefer to meet with both partners together. Time is spent on understanding each person’s experience in the relationship with the focus on understanding each person’s position in the relationship. On occasion, I will schedule an individual session.  Individual meetings are always arranged with both partners agreement, and with the understanding that I hold a “no secrets” policy. The focus would be on individual issues that can be integrated into the couples work.

What role do you take in providing Couples Therapy?

As your therapist I take a direct role in relationship counseling.  I consider myself a process consultant, an active participant in your sessions. My goal is to sift through the content and get to the heart of the issue. I will get a real sense of your experience in the relationship and how your relationship works. I view the building of “a safe haven” in your relationship as my primary task, and we will focus on your primary needs – to feel close, secure and responded to – which probably underlie most of your couple’s conflict.  Together we will identify the behavior patterns that seem to take on a life of their own as they cycle into repetitive interactions that cause pain, disconnection and isolation. We work on changing these negative interaction cycles in a non-judgmental environment, creating a new way of communicating and connecting.

Is there a way to work on my marriage if my partner is unwilling to attend?

Yes.  I see the relationship experience as a kind of “dance.”  Together we will identify the pattern of interaction that is causing your relationship distress. We will clarify your part in the dance, then you can change your “steps.”  You will bring about changes in the relationship by addressing your own issues and making personal progress. Can I meet you to see how it feels and decide if I am comfortable with you as a therapist? Yes.  I offer a free 30 minute consultation so that you can get a feel for what couples counseling is like. If for some reason we are not a good match, I will provide you with referrals so that you are able to find a therapist with whom you feel comfortable.

What is your theoretical orientation?

My practice focuses on the use of Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT).

Does Couples Therapy really work?

Research on the success of EFT: EFT appears to move couples from distress in 10-12 sessions for 70-75% of cases and creates improvements in 90% of couples coming in for therapy. EFT has been used with many different types of couples in private practice, university training centers and hospital clinics. These distressed couples include partners suffering from disorders such as depression, post-traumatic stress and chronic illness.

Do you choose sides in Couples Therapy?

No. My role as a therapist is to understand each partner’s position and experience in the relationship. It is my responsibility to hear both of you and facilitate a new way of communicating in your relationship.

What can we expect our first session to be like?

Engaging in Couples Therapy is a brave step in getting the relationship you want. My job is to make the process as comfortable as possible. In a first session my goal is to understand what brings you in for counseling and to decide with you on a plan of action.  In the session, we will discuss some basics such as confidentiality, session times, goals, previous marriage counseling experiences. Right away, I will ask you both to explain what concerns/problems you want to address as we meet together.  Then, we will make a plan for counseling, including the frequency of sessions and whether or not individual counseling is necessary.  At the end of the session, I will give you some specific feedback and what to expect moving forward.  

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