The Nuts & Bolts
Couples I work with are often struggling with a lack of emotional and physical intimacy, they’ve lost respect and trust for each other, and have little companionship or communication. And they often have frequent arguments about finances, sex, children, social media, etc.
I help couples open up to each other, rebuild mutual respect, trust, and honesty, understand what’s not working and why, help them come up with mutual solutions for their problems, and re-experience friendship and simple joy in just being with each other.
Simply working on communication is never the whole answer to a couple’s problems, although it helps. Past trauma is often a factor as well as other individual baggage. Baggage can bog down and destroy a relationship, and includes unvoiced needs, expectations, and assumptions as well as attachment styles. Each of us has individual baggage we’ve accumulated over the course of our lives. Some of that baggage is positive … and some is negative. And past trauma and current conflicts about baggage often cause problems that couples can’t see because they’re too close to the issue.
Working together we’ll get the assessment and treatment plan done in 2-3 sessions. I meet with a couple first for a free consultation, then I meet with each person individually for an in-depth assessment. After that I meet with the couple again, discuss results from both assessments, and we’ll jointly agree on a treatment plan that we’ll refer to in each therapy session. Therapy typically goes about 10 sessions, sometimes less and sometimes more.
Expect at least the first 2 therapy sessions after the assessment to focus on safety, stress management, and emotional regulation vs the problem(s) you want help with. Some therapy sessions may be individual, but most will be with both of you, and therapy will include homework. You’ll actually get more out of therapy between sessions than in a therapy session, and I hold people accountable for the work I send them home with.
Some of the things I commonly address in therapy include companionship, respect, trust, honesty, boundaries, emotional and physical intimacy, relationship needs, expectations, and assumptions, individual and couples’ values, goals, and beliefs, as well as communication, baggage, and past trauma. I also take a look at physical health and often make recommendations here as well.
If past trauma is a factor I strongly encourage people to work on that first. We can do this individually or in couple’s work.
I have three hard rules for couple’s therapy. First, I don’t play favorites. My client is the couple – not two separate individuals. Second, I don’t keep secrets when doing couple’s work. Secrets and lack of honesty are too often part of the problem. Third, if there is any physical or sexual violence occurring between you and your partner I will not do couple’s therapy. I’ll suggest other options, including individual therapy, if violence is a factor.
It’s not a quick process, helping couples resolve baggage and other problems, but couples often end up stronger than before. They’re often laughing, smiling at and with each other, they’re talking more and spending more time together, touching and holding hands, and have a renewed sense of commitment and intimacy in their relationship. They’ve learned a lot about themselves, each other, and how to make their relationship really work.
Want some help or have questions about how to improve your relationship? Send me an email asking for a free consultation. Include your availability in the coming week and I’ll respond within 24-hours with a day and time that works for both of us.