Frequently Asked Questions
Do I Really Need Therapy?
Sometimes, problems become so challenging or overwhelming it can be difficult to cope. We all need some extra support from time to time. By seeking therapy, you are taking responsibility by accepting where you are at in life and making a commitment to change the situation, find a solution, or learn different means of coping. Within a trusting, collaborative therapeutic relationship with the right therapist, it can provide structure for people to build strengths, support, and resources. It can also be a place to continue to grow and to learn more about yourself.
When and Why Do We Need Couples Counseling?
According to research conducted by Dr. John Gottman, a world-renowned couples researcher, most couples wait, on average, six years before seeking counseling for relationship problems. This means that the relationship is usually in a high level of distress when the couple finally gets to counseling, and it can take a lot of work to make the repairs that are necessary to save and improve the relationship. My wish for couples is that more of them will begin to turn to couples therapy as a preventative measure — a way to learn to take care of their investment in one another and learn skills and tools to help keep their relationship safe, joyful, and strong.
Will Our Relationship Make It?
Most couples come to me seeking hope, healing, and repair of a relationship that has experienced some damage and distress. We can work on healing your relationship and learning better ways for you to connect and feel heard and valued. But some people seek couples counseling because they need help disengaging from a relationship with kindness and care. They want to separate in a way that allows them to be good to one another. This is something I can also help couples achieve. Some therapists feel that all relationships must be saved. However, I recognize that sometimes relationships need to end or transition into a friendship or something else.
How many counseling sessions will it take to solve our relationship problems?
Obviously, each couple is unique and there is no “average” number of sessions so there is no simple answer to this question.The therapy begins with an assessment process where I will complete an individual assessment of each partner, and an assessment of the couple. This assessment provides the foundation or road map for your therapeutic journey. Once the assessment is completed, you and I will decide the frequency and duration of your sessions. Generally, the number of counseling sessions that couples attend before experiencing significant relief from their distress ranges anywhere from 6 to 20 sessions. However, many couples report having a greater understanding of each other in just a few sessions which often provides hope after years of relationship turmoil.
What if my spouse or partner will not agree to participate in couples counseling, should I come without him/her?
The short answer is yes. There are many reasons why your significant other might not want to attend couples therapy such as fear of being blamed or fear of powerful emotions that might surface throughout the course of therapy. Even if your partner refuses to attend couples therapy, you should consider the benefits of individual therapy.
What about family therapy? When should we seek family counseling?
Deciding if family therapy is right for your family can be a big decision. While it may initially seem like admitting defeat or failure, in reality choosing family counseling can be a big step forward. Even the most resilient families seek help beyond their own family’s resources. If your family is experiencing challenges with the types of issues listed below and despite your best efforts these issues are not resolved, pursuing family therapy might be a good idea.
- Family members have difficulty functioning in their normal capacity. Do you feel an “energy drain” in your family? Things that used to be routine and normal are now burdensome?
- Family members are not getting along with each other. Do you feel like your family is in constant conflict with one another? Do you feel like disagreements keep resurfacing and never get resolved?
- Family members tend to have extreme emotional reactions. Do members of your family exhibit excessive anger, fear, sadness, depression or other emotional reactions?
- There is a significant breakdown in communication between family members. Do you find it harder to communicate than usual? Are you experiencing the “silent treatment” more often than usual?
- Family members are withdrawing from family life. Is there a new pattern of one or more family members going into seclusion?
- There are symptoms of violence or the threat of violence to oneself or other family members. Beyond normal “horseplay,” do you feel that violence is a problem? Is there behavior that would be considered “assault” if it weren’t between family members?
- Family members express feelings of helplessness or hopelessness. Do you feel that you have reached the end of your rope? Is coping with the stresses just too much to bear? Do you wonder if your family will ever recover?
- There have been changes in the children’s behavior at home or school. Are grades taking a nosedive? What about attendance problems or disruptive behavior at school? Is one of the children “out of control” at home?
- The family has had a traumatic experience and members are having a hard time coping. Has there been a death in the family? A divorce or separation? An affair discovered? Is the family having difficulty adjusting to the new reality?
- Family members have substance abuse problems. Are there challenges with alcohol or drug use?