Do you ever feel like you have less-than-functional aspects to your relationship that keep you and your partner from being as close as you’d like? Don’t sweat, this is a very common problem and normal reason to come into couples counseling.
What is couples counseling like?
Like any other counseling experience, you will complete intake paperwork that asks your demographic and counseling-related questions. Each partner will complete separate paperwork. The first session will be together, the second will be separate sessions and the remainder of sessions will generally be with the couple together again. You will each get a chance to share and describe the problems you are experiencing.
Does getting couples counseling mean we have failed or that our problems are so bad that we should just break up?
Goodness gracious, no! This is where the stigma of counseling comes in and it can keep couples from seeking help that could save their relationship. Often couples wait until their problem has gone on for sometimes years and much like any pattern or habit, this can make these habits harder to break. Couples come into counseling for so many different and diverse reasons, and being willing to do counseling shows a commitment that can help whatever problems you are having.
How long does couples counseling take?
Like with many things in counseling, I can give two unpopular responses: it depends and however long it takes. As a very dramatic example, consider how different it would be for a couple coming in for premarital counseling versus a couple opening up a relationship after an affair. The former may take a session or two while the latter could take months. And that’s not even considering how different each person and couple is. I will say you have the right to terminate counseling at any time, so you can come as long, or as short, as you’d like. It’s a good idea to discuss your expectations for duration and commitment early on with your partner and counselor.
Can’t you just see my partner who is causing the problem?
The short answer is that yes, I absolutely can! However, the real answer is that often times couple problems, no matter how one-sided they may seem, have an impact on the relationship that can most effectively be addressed with both people present. Say one person is having an affair: without blaming or shaming, we might look at what the relationship is like for both partners to look for clues as to why someone would have an affair over breaking up with their partner.
Do you do couples sex therapy?
Yes, I am a certified sex therapist that does individual AND couples counseling (I also am a certified couples therapist). To be clear, this is strictly verbal/emotional therapy and is never physical, sexually intimate or participatory. You will never be asked to perform sexual acts in counseling nor will there ever be any nudity. I have a whole page on sex therapy for more information!
What issues do you treat in couples counseling?
Really anything that is troubling you as a couple! This often has to do with communication, which can have a snaking effect outward on many different areas of a relationship (sex, intimacy, parenting, feeling heard, fighting, etc.). A few other areas of specialty I have are: increasing passion and reigniting sexual excitement, communicating effectively and respectfully, functioning more as partners/companions, kink/BDSM, poly or swinging, and moving past previous hurts such as affairs or trauma.