Congratulations! You’ve made the decision to seek couples counseling.
For many couples, just googling “couples therapist” is a difficult step.
Just being here, on this web site, is a sign that your relationship is important to you and you want to make things better.
If you’re like most couples, you want to get as much as possible out of the first few sessions.
This page is a guide to help you achieve that goal.
The first 3 sessions are designed to help you and me to get to know one another. The meetings are an opportunity to collect important information at the start so that we can make the speediest improvements possible.
Importantly, there’s space for you to really say what you want me or your partner to hear—and vice versa.
Before Your First Appointment
Laying the groundwork for successful therapy.
After confirming the appointment, you and your partner will receive a link to an online client portal where you can fill out some new client paperwork.
There are three questionnaires that help me understand your point of view on the relationship before we even get started.
1. A standard intake questionnaire.
2. A Relationship Questionnaire.
3. A “When We’re Not Getting Along” form.
How This Helps
The forms do not take long to fill out, but by the time you’re done, you’ve given me some great information that helps me plan our first meeting.
Instead of starting from scratch, we can work to focus on your most important concerns.
The forms give me a profile of your current relationship, and your experiences with close relationships in general. I’ll have insight into your relationship wishes and fears.
Session 1: A Joint Session
A Chance to Observe the Couple in Action and Set Goals
In the first session, all three of us meet jointly.
I’ll give both of you time and space to share your concerns about your relationship and what sort of goals you have for couples counseling.
I want to understand what it’s like to be in your shoes.
In this meeting, it’s really important that I hear from both partners. This can be tough on couples.
You both probably view your relationship very differently. It’s really hard to hear your partner explain his or her side. It’s easy to get stirred up or want to disagree during this first session.
My job is to be the referee in the discussion.
My style is to interrupt couples when they start to get escalated or distressed. If this happens, I’ll guide us to a calmer spot and then resume the conversation.
I won’t be judge or jury.
How This Helps
In couples counseling, it is important to realize that you and your partner both play a role in the patterns you’ve developed over time.
You probably unintentionally push each other into certain responses, resulting in what might seem like a never-ending cycle.
In session one, we’ll start figuring out where things are falling apart. By the end of the session, I usually have good insight into how your arguments unfold.
Sessions 2 And 3: Individual Sessions
A Deeper Understanding of What’s Happening for You
After our joint session, it is important that I get to meet with each of you individually.
You have the chance let me know, without interruption, what is going on for you in the relationship. We can take a deeper dive than we took in the first session, and you don’t have to worry about your spouse or partner objecting or interfering.
I’ll ask about your family of origin. We learn a lot about relationships from watching our parents interact.
The last topic I like to cover in individual sessions is past relationships. We sometimes repeat patterns unconsciously, and making those patterns explicit will help your current relationship.
How This Helps
By the end of the joint session, I’ve gained insight into who you are as a person, where you’re hurting, and what you really want out of your relationship.
When I understand you more deeply, I can help you explain your experience to your partner in a way that he or she will be able to hear and understand.
By the end of the individual sessions, you may feel calmer. Some couples, but by no means all, notice they are starting to fight less or at least less harshly.
Session 4 And Beyond: Working together
Finding Solutions, Increasing Understanding, Finding Forgiveness, and Rebuilding Bonds
After the joint sessions, we usually do the rest of the work in joint sessions.
Individual sessions can be requested by you, your partner, or me if one of us feels it’s important for our work to proceed.
There is a rule, though, that if you ask for an individual session, your partner is also invited to have his or her own personal session with me. It’s important that I don’t unwittingly seem biased.
It’s impossible for me to know in advance how long couples counseling will take, but I understand you’re hurting and you really want to feel better right away.
Most couples notice a difference after the first several sessions. They feel calmer, they may already be arguing less, and they feel they have a safe place to talk openly, honestly, and calmly with one another.
You don’t need to suffer. A better relationship is possible.
And I’ll work hard to get you there.
If you haven’t scheduled your first session yet, or if you have more questions you’d like to ask me then please contact me today. I’m happy to be of help.