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Couples Counseling FAQ

What should we expect in the first session(s)?

To begin I will meet with you and your partner and guide both of you in describing the issues you are struggling with. Listening carefully and objectively, I will help you understand the obstacles, some which you may not even be aware of, blocking your ability to create a more fulfilling, stable, loving relationship. Then I will collaborate with you to clarify and set specific treatment goals, and make recommendations about the frequency of sessions and the duration of treatment.

How does couples counseling work?

I teach couples exactly how to improve their relationship through psychodynamic investigation, behavioral approaches, and homework. Psychodynamic investigation helps both partners understand and take responsibility for how their own emotional histories, especially family of origin issues, contribute to conflicts within the relationship.

Behavioral approaches include learning how to listen and communicate, how to set boundaries, how to argue constructively, how to enhance pleasure and intimacy, and how to successfully find lasting solutions to chronic unresolved conflicts.

Homework, tailored to the unique needs and concerns of each couple, offer the opportunity to practice newly learned relationship skills and deepen partners’ understanding of the ideas discussed during session time. This may include for example, writing assignments that promote self-discovery and help to process emotionally charged issues, creating a date night, resolving a conflict incorporating newly learned communication strategies, and practical techniques to enhance romance and intimacy.

How long do couples sessions last?

The duration of a session is 50 minutes.

How many sessions will we need?

I will help you to clarify and set specific goals at the beginning of therapy. Therapy is usually time-limited for motivated couples, committed to establishing healthy relationship patterns and practices in their daily lives, and who follow through with suggested assignments and exercises at home. That said, there are some more complex situations where couples may need more time to carefully and progressively resolve the problems they are struggling with.

We can discuss and clarify any concerns and questions you may have about the duration of treatment during the initial session and revisit this issue as needed any time thereafter.

Do we ever have individual sessions as part of couples counseling?

In some cases one or both partners may be struggling with emotional issues that pre-date and/or are triggered by the relationship. This can be an obstacle both to the individuals’ overall happiness, and to the progress of the therapeutic work as a couple. In such cases individual therapy can be extremely beneficial in helping to remove these emotional obstacles so the individual experiences an improved sense of well being, progress is accelerated in couples counseling, and the couple can enjoy a more fulfilling, harmonious, loving relationship.

Do couples always end up staying together as a result of couples counseling?

I am committed to working tirelessly and patiently with couples to help them cultivate the skills and tools needed to improve their relationships, and have successfully helped countless couples to enjoy a more fulfilling, harmonious, loving relationship.

However, another benefit of couples counseling can be that certain couples realize that they are simply not a good match, and should not stay together. In such situations, and at the request of both partners, I work with couples to part ways as amicably and peacefully as possible.

Do we need to be on the brink of a breakup or divorce to seek couples counseling?

Many couples in stable, gratifying relationships seek couples counseling as a “tune-up” to ensure channels of communication remain open during stressful or challenging times, to further deepen their friendship and intimacy, or to just make a good relationship even better and provide “relationship insurance” for the future.

Issues discussed can include for example, the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, moving, getting engaged, planning a wedding or civil union, having a child, adoption, fertility issues, religious differences, financial issues, sexual issues or introducing a same sex partner to family members.

We’ve been dating for a short time. Is couples counseling appropriate for us?

Couples counseling can be helpful regardless of the stage of your relationship, and in fact, is a very wise, proactive investment in your relationship future. Learning early on how to listen to and understand each other with empathy and compassion, how to communicate effectively, and how to resolve conflicts in ways that strengthen the bond between you helps lay a strong foundation for a relationship filled with warmth, trust, and happiness.

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