There are tools and rules for promoting couples to have effective conversations. It is important that couples counselors avoid emphasis on how couples feel but rather what they DO with what they feel.
Unfortunately couples therapy has become a listening experience for the couples therapist and a talking experience for the couple.
This is not the work I practice. I talk with couples about the problems they are having.
Couples think they come in with the problem but they don’t. Couples generally come with the Symptoms of the problem. Then the couple and myself as the couples counselor must come to understand the Problem behind the symptoms so that we can solve the real problem!
Couples often come in, for example, fighting to be right, ignoring requests from the other, lying, and/or blaming. The point here is NOT to talk about the feelings behind such behavior but to understand what couples are trying to solve with behaviors that make the problem worse.
Once we determine what a partner is trying to solve in the couples’ relationship, the couples counselor and the couple can look for alternative means to solve the problem.
So, couples counseling helps couples connect better because they can have conversations rather than fights. It also helps couples understand each other better so that partners can stay off the buttons that lead to unpleasant reactions between partners. All of this then leads couples who are parents to provide better role models for their children. Thus, children can grow up with good habits for entering their own couples relationships one day.
It is very important to understand that good couples therapy begins with the first phone call!
The advent of the internet has created an environment where people don’t talk to each other. Texting and emailing and voice messaging have cut through real conversations.
I am immediately responsive to all requests for couples counseling. This is because to do otherwise sends a message that the caller is not very important. As I am not wanting anyone who asks for help to get this message, I respond immediately even if I need, as a couples counselor, to make a later appointment to talk.
When I am now engaged with the member of the couple who is calling, I ask about the problem, what precipitated the call, who is involved, and how the caller decided to call me. The caller can then ask me any questions that they may have, including my history as a couples counselor, my years of marriage, and anything pertinent to the couples counseling.
When the couple arrives at the office, I take a detailed history. I want to know about the couple’s exposure to marriage—what they have learned and what they saw in their role models. I provide articles about marriage, homework for practicing new habits or studying old ones, and concrete tools for doing things differently.
Couples proceed in couples counseling based on how good they are at learning new habits.
As I am teaching couples how to be together better through couples counseling, I don’t see people divorcing. I am not recommending divorce so couples who see me learn new habits through couples counseling and stay together.
Couples Counseling can be found at no charge and I have heard quotes at several hundred dollars per hour for couples counseling.
Many couples call me and this is the first question asked. There are lots of couples who need help and can’t afford it. Good couples counseling is expensive. Insurance pays couples counselors poorly thus, many couples counselors who are busy don’t accept it. Couples can pay the couples counselor and collect back from insurance.
However, often out of pocket expenses toward deductibles are high and diagnosis codes need to be severe.
Couples counseling is like any other service— couples get what they pay for.
I love what I do! I spend a lot of out of office time with the couples I see. I am not the first to pass along the idea to couples that we all get what we pay for. Bad couples therapy is worse than no couples therapy at all. It is very important to interview any couples counselor you think about hiring to find out about what they can do to help you as well as HOW their knowledge works for THEM.