Couples counseling is one of my specialties. Relationships seem to be where most of us experience most of the meaning, importance and color in our lives...and a lot of our pain.
I encourage you to come in as soon as possible since relational issues are much easier to work on before they become huge. If they're already huge, I'd still encourage you to get some help. The sooner, the better, so now is the best time.
In marriage counseling or other couples counseling, we're often working on communication. The issue that brings you to therapy might be money or parenting or sex or trust, but communication is always a big part of how we solve the problem. Sometimes communication is the whole enchilada—the problem and the solution.
I find that I'm much more directive in couples therapy than I am in individual therapy. One way that this happens is when I coach you on how to hear each other effectively during the session, so the session provides actual practice of new skills. Another way I'm directive with couples is that I usually give practical homework. An example would be teaching a communication skill, such as paraphrasing, and then asking you to practice it as much as possible at home. If the new skill works for you at home, great; if it doesn't, then we can study exactly where it breaks down, and we can fix it.
If you think it might be time for a couples
counselor, please don't wait. Couples usually wait much too late, 'til hurt and resentment have piled on top of the original problems, making those original problems much harder to untangle.
Starting marriage counseling or other couples counseling can be a very vulnerable thing, in some ways more vulnerable than individual counseling. Please know that I understand that and try to help both partners retain their dignity while facing up to the problems in the relationship and to the part that each has contributed to the problems.
Speaking of problems, I'm often asked whether I think you need to rehash the past wounds in your relationship. That can be very helpful, but it can also go south quickly. The key is not to do it unless you're ready to learn and heal, which may require some outside help such as a therapist. Simply reminding each other of those hurts often does more harm than good. Slowing down to hear each other out fully about those hurts, with the intention of learning and healing, usually does more good than harm.
Whether we work much on past hurts or not, ultimately we'll need to focus on how to build on positives, how to create a better relationship. If you're still together, there's something keeping you together, and I think it's best to build on those strengths and to get some positive changes as soon as possible.
One of the great things about couples counseling is that the skills you learn can last a lifetime, long after your current issues are
resolved, helping you understand each other better and be more
intimate. Sometimes the intimacy you find after working through a large
problem is actually greater than you had before.
Many couples do single-length sessions (50 minutes), but some choose to do double-length sessions. I'm comfortable with both options. Please
note that the fee is doubled for double-length sessions.
I typically start with both members of the couple together, but if you prefer individual meetings to start, I'm fine with that.
I hope you'll give me a call if you'd like to talk about whether we're a good fit for couples counseling.