What Brings Couples into Couples Counseling?
Couples often call me feeling desperate about their relationships. They tell me they have been putting off counseling for 6 months or more, hoping things would improve on their own. Research shows that most couples struggle through relationship problems for even longer—nearly a year—before seeking professional help. By the time I see many of my clients for the first time, they are on the verge of a breakup and feeling conflicted about their commitment to each other.
Many different scenarios can cause a couple’s relationship to begin spiraling out of control. Common issues include
- verbal conflict
- intimacy problems
- unfulfilled sexual needs
- broken trust
- poor communication
- parenting issues
- finance-related arguments
- damaged friendship
- family-related problems
- disputes over household responsibilities
How We Approach your Relationship Problems
Couples counseling is a collaborative process. As your therapist, I can help you identify and work through your problems, but I cannot magically “fix” your issues. I am strongly committed to giving you my best during our sessions, but you, as a couple, must make an equally strong commitment to practicing and applying and what you learn between sessions.
In our first session, I will conduct a thorough assessment of your relationship. We’ll discuss your relationship’s history, its current status, and your vision for the future.
Once this assessment is complete, we will begin the work of transforming your relationship, starting with the most problematic areas. My office will become a safe place to discuss your problems, differences of opinion, and perpetual arguments.
Working on Communication
Discussing your problems will not be easy at first. In fact, most couples complain about non-productive communication during our first session. But it is absolutely critical that we establish an open and honest dialogue early on. Throughout our sessions, I will actively shape the conversation, helping you learn more productive ways to engage your partner. Using open-ended questioning, I will encourage you to discuss your emotions openly, and I will hold each of you accountable for listening to each other respectfully, without becoming defensive or judgmental. By discussing emotions openly, we can achieve a level of empathy that helps you understand your partner’s perspective.
Rebuilding Your Relationship
Our initial sessions will pave the way for interventions and techniques that will help you de-escalate conflict and promote reconciliation. As you become more comfortable discussing emotions with each other, both of you will begin to feel more understood. Once we have re-established healthy patterns of communication, we can focus on rebuilding your friendship, rekindling intimacy, and renewing shared rituals and dreams.
Be your partners BEST FRIEND, don’t side with the ENEMY.Dr. Julie Gottman