Walking into therapy can be an anxiety producing situation, especially if it is a brand new experience and you don’t know what to expect. Let me walk you through my process of working with new couples.
1. Once you make initial contact (a phone call or email), I will schedule a free 15 minute phone session with you. This phone call does a couple of things. First, it allows you to ask any questions you might have, and gather any information that could be important for you and your partner when deciding whether to pursue counseling. It is also a chance for both of us to figure out if I’ll be the best person to fit your needs, or if perhaps, there is someone else that may serve you better.
2. The assessment process. Let’s talk about why this is important and how I may do it a little differently than you are used to. The first three in-person sessions are part of my assessment, or information gathering process. They are longer in length than typical non assessment sessions (and therefore billed at a higher rate). The reason these sessions are so important is because every single couple has different needs and therefore will require a different treatment plan. It is essential that I start with the right “tools” so I can formulate the best plan that is unique to you as a couple.
3. At the first session, I will get to know you and your partner a little better and begin the first part of my assessment. I will also discuss treatment in detail during this session and outline what is expected of you as a couple. At this point I will also provide you with a link for each of you to complete an online assessment tool called the Gottman Relationship Checkup based on 40 years of research from the Gottman Institute. It is CRUCIAL that both partners have taken the time to complete the assessment before the second session. Failure to do so, will result in being unable to attend further sessions until it is completed. In my experience working with couples, counseling is only effective if BOTH partners are willing and able to work hard both in and out of session (which includes following homework). Not completing the first task often signals that one or both partners are not ready to participate in couples counseling.
4. Our second session will be made up of two “individual” appointments, so that I will be able to spend 35 minutes with each partner separately. This allows me to get to know each one of you individually, and also for each person to be able to tell their story without any additional pressure. During the this time, the partner that isn’t currently in session is welcome to relax in the waiting room (I have books, coffee and tea) or take a walk around the area.
5. The third visit is when I complete your assessment and we discuss your individualized goals for counseling. We discuss my recommendations along with your own personal goals for what you want to achieve as a couple. Together, we will start planning for an effective and worthwhile use of time in therapy.
6. Research shows that couples counseling is most effective when sessions start out more frequently and then, as the couple gains skills and the relationship heals, sessions can be spread out more. Because of this reason, I require that the assessment process be completed within 3 weeks (one session per week) instead of spread out over a longer period of time. Again, I have found that our time is more successful if couples are consistent in committing to a time each week to work on their relationship rather than having a session “here and there”. Just like anything else, couples counseling is not magic. It is a mixture of hard work, learning new skills and an improved understanding of your partner. It works best when both partners are committed to the therapeutic process (even if they aren’t sure they want to stay in the relationship) which includes showing up on time for appointments, being honest in session, and doing your best to follow the rules and guidelines that we set during session. I encourage both partners to ask questions and voice any concerns they may have so that we may make the best use of our time together. I look forward to working with you and your partner.
Ready to get started?
Call or email me to schedule your first appointment!