Couples Therapy: 10 Relationship Advice Questions For Counseling
The 10 questions are what many people ask a couples therapist before deciding to start couples counseling. If you’d like to be notified of future posts on this topic, please sign up for my newsletter here and receive your free copy of my free ebook “5 Don’ts For Every Relationship,” Advice for everyone.
Is Couples Therapy the right thing for us?
If you were asking me that question I’d turn it around and ask you “what’s going on in your life right now that prompted you to call me? You are asking about relationship advice so there must be something that you’re concerned about in your relationship.
If you have a concern and you’ve been unable to effectively work it out without the help of a couples counselor, then yes, you are the kind of people who can benefit from couples counseling.
Is good relationship advice really available through couples therapy?
Yes it is! I am trained and licensed as a Marriage Therapist. I’ve studied the research on what makes relationships work well. After all, our relationship is probably the most important thing in our life. Many couples come to couples therapy with the hope that therapy can help fix a relationship that’s gone wrong. Even people seeking relationship advice with their mind already made up about ending the relationship, are still asking for help. They want to find out how to break up or get validation that their decision to leave is the right decision.
Does couples therapy work? What kind of a success rate do you have in helping other couples?
Yes couples therapy does work! But first we have to define what “success” is in couples therapy. When a couple comes to me hoping to get relationship advice, I ask them what they want as an outcome. If neither of them is ambivalent about wanting to fix the relationship then that becomes the benchmark for success. And if you both want to succeed and are both able to grow and change in the relationship then we will be successful. Some couples are unsure what outcome they want or one wants to fix it and the other wants to end it. I tell them about the Imago Theory of Relationship:
On an unconscious level we are attracted to another person because they represent the perfect “other” that can help us create the perfect relationship situation with the goal of working through our relationship wounds starting from early childhood until now. When the other person is also attracted back to you, then you have the perfect setup to learn, heal and grow while you are together. If you choose to leave this relationship before you’ve learned what you needed to learn and healed what you need to heal, you are doomed to repeat this same painful situation in the next relationship.
So it is in both of your best interests to seek out skillful relationship advice and work through your troubles together if possible. You may end up going your separate way or you may end up staying together. Either way, you will be in a better place to create a loving and successful relationship. Your time in couples therapy and the relationship advice you received will have been worth it.
Can Couples Therapy fix my husband/wife?
The person who asks this question doesn’t believe they have any responsibility for the problems in the relationship. “This is all my partners fault. I’m innocent!” In any relationship it takes two; two to make it work and two to break it. Granted one of you may have a lot more responsibility for what went wrong but both of you have some responsibility. So the quick answer to the question is “No, I can’t fix him or her. I can help each of you fix yourself and then guide the two of you towards a healthier relationship. The only people who “get fixed” are those who want to fix themselves. How long will it take? How many sessions? Somewhere between 1 and 1,000 but usually no more then a year. I’ve seen couples for one session and they’ve gone away happy with the answer they were looking for. Other couples I have seen for a year or slightly more before they find their way to a better place and stay there.
How the hell are you going to save us?
Other versions of this question include: Can we be helped? Do you think you can help us? What will become of the two of us? All of these questions show the hopeless you can feel when not able to solve the problems in your relationship by yourselves. What I want to unequivocally say is this: It’s not hopeless. Things can be made better! This is not a guarantee that couples counseling will save your relationship. That may or may not happen. But we can work together to make the situation better even if better ends up meaning apart. That would not be my first choice for the two of you but sometimes that is the best outcome.
Do you meet with us individually?
I always try to meet with couples together but there are situations that warrant separate meetings. My philosophy about couples therapy is that if you want a relationship to work you have to work together. So in that spirit I always try to have both partners in the room at the same time. I’m trying to help you communicate more effectively, reduce conflict, eliminate historical patterns that affect your current life and help you two feel connected. That work is best done with both of you there. Reasons why I would want to meet with you separately include:
- one of you not feeling safe enough to speak your truth in front of your partner
- an inability for the two of you to refrain from yelling and fighting in the session
- a recent occurrence of domestic violence
- one or both of you are so demeaning to the other that a civilized conversation is not possible
- I’d work with you individually with the goal of working with both of you at the same time.
What methods do You use in couples therapy?
I was trained as a couples counselor during a time when therapists were encouraged to become good therapists before adapting whatever the newest fad in couples therapy happens to be. I get to know the two of you in the context of your relationship, ask open-ended questions so I can hear and understand both of you and then look for the underlying emotional and psychological dimensions that are causing the problems between the two of you. You see conflict in relationships is rarely about the content of what you are fighting about. It’s usually about the underlying feelings of anger, abandonment, loneliness, being misunderstood and things like that. If we can come to understand that level of your interactions we can make positive change. I have also studied EFT, ACT, Imago and some of the Gottman’s work. With all of these various tools in my “toolbox” I’m confident that I can find a way to help the two of you.
How long have you been doing this?
I left my job in Corporate America in 1997 to start graduate school in marriage and family systems psychology. During my two and a half years in graduate school I took four classes in couples and family systems. After graduation I completed three years of internships working under the supervision of master psychotherapists doing individual, couples family and child therapy. In 2003 I received my license as a Marriage and Family Therapist. I’ve been providing relationship advice, couples therapy and marriage counseling for all types of relationships for over a decade.
Do you accept my insurance? How much does it cost?
A lot less than a divorce!
Couples therapy is not covered by insurance. Insurance companies do not believe they should pay for relationship advice. Their belief is that it is their job to provide medical insurance for medical problems like depression and anxiety. Relationship issues are not considered to be a medical problem in the eyes of insurance companies. It would be unethical and misleading to bill an insurance company for an individual therapy session and then do couples therapy. Click here to see the cost of therapy session on the scheduling page.
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