Q: What should we expect from Couples Counseling?
A: So, you’ve been considering Couples Counseling for a while, and you’ve finally booked your first appointment. Now what? Generally speaking you can expect your first appointment to feel like a data dump. It is a chance for both partners to share their perspective on concerns in the relationship, as well as sharing the history of the relationship. We’ll cover everything from how you met to what you would like to get out of Counseling.
For some people all of this sharing feels great, “finally we’re getting somewhere!” For others it can feel like a big, fat vulnerability hangover, “I can’t believe we just met that person and told them we haven’t had sex in over a year!” These responses, and a lot of gray in between, are completely natural.
Because every relationship consists of three key components (partner + partner + relationship dynamics) it is important for us to have an understanding of all three. Following the initial Couples Counseling session we will meet with each partner separately. This is not a he said/she said session, this is a time to get to know each partner as an individual. We are all influenced significantly by the family that we grew up in as well as our life experiences; awareness of these influences is an important part of the counseling process. We will use the individual sessions to better understand who each of you are as individuals.
From here we develop a plan for Counseling. Sometimes this plan includes Individual Counseling for one or both partners, sometimes it includes Couples Counseling. We will make those decisions together and create a clear road map for the Counseling process.
Q: How often will we meet?
A: This will depend on the intensity of the issues you are facing and what type of support you feel that you need. It is common to meet every week for the first few sessions and then move to a bi-weekly schedule after some initial progress. This will of course depend on time and financial considerations as well.
The important thing is that Counseling should feel supportive, not like a hardship, so we will be sure to arrange a schedule that feels like a good fit.
Q: How long does Marriage or Couples Counseling take?
A: This is a very common question, and unfortunately one that is difficult to answer. Premarital Counseling typically lasts 4-6 sessions. However, for a lot of couples the length of the Counseling process varies greatly.
A contributing factor can be how open both partners are to engaging in the process. It is not uncommon for couples to be several sessions in before the true source of dissatisfaction is finally disclosed. It cannot be stressed enough how important it is that both partners feel comfortable to open up and talk about what you are thinking and feeling. It is like all things in life – the more you put into it, the more you are going to get out of it.
With all of that said, there are some couples who stay in counseling for years; but generally speaking, most Couples Counseling lasts 10-12 sessions. If working through a crisis such as Infidelity you may want to plan on 12-18 months of counseling. But again, each case is unique.
We will check-in on the process regularly to review the progress that has been made and the issues yet to tackle. It will always be a collaborative process.
Q: How does Sex Therapy work?
A: The integration of emotional closeness and physical intimacy is a hallmark of long-term committed relationships. Therefore, it is important that sexuality is considered in your Couples Counseling work. As an AASECT Certified Sex Therapist I am able to help with both.
To be clear, Sex Therapy is always talk therapy – there is never any touching, nudity or sexual activity in Counseling. It is uncomfortable for many people to talk openly about sex, and I get that. We always take our time and make sure that we pace ourselves based on comfort level.
We will work to understand what factors may be impacting the sexual relationship and determine the best approach based on your needs. Our goal will be to improve communication and satisfaction with all areas of your relationship.