Couples Therapy

What to expect when coming in for Couple’s Therapy

You may be wondering what couple’s therapy will be like, what will be expected of you and what I offer in the process. Every couple’s process in therapy is unique, yet, here are some general answers that may help give you a better sense of what to expect.

Many couples come in to see me because they are having a hard time communicating with one another or wanting to develop a particular area of their relationship. Often there is a particular dynamic that takes place and it doesn’t feel good to either partner. In these cases, it might be like engaging in a familiar “dance”, when you really wish you were dancing to an entirely different genre of music. I will work with you to figure out how to change the dynamic.

Deciding what to talk about:

One thing that will be important is feeling safe and willing or ready to address particular issues. So, being honest about what you are up for and what you aren’t ready to talk about is important. The pace of our work will be determined by what you are ready for. Sometimes, you may be willing to explore a particular topic, but you don’t quite know how to put words to your feelings. That is normal when exploring new territory. I can help support you in building your skills for talking about subjects that might be more challenging for you.

Pacing

It is not unusual have one partner really ready to talk about a particular issue while the other is not quite ready. This is a pacing issue. It’s important to work together to come up with what is best for you both, as a team…rather than “pushing through” to prove yourself to one another. Intimacy happens when we feel safe and comfortable. I encourage you to communicate when you are feeling safe and comfortable and also at any point, when you are not. A large goal is for us to make the space comfortable and safe for both of us to speak your own truths and to be able to listen and hear the other.

Listening

Ahh—it can be so hard to listen when one is triggered! And, it can be sooooo desired to be heard, understood and cared for, especially when your partner doesn’t feel the same way. That can be so loving! There is a particular model for communicating in couple’s therapy that I teach clients when a tool is desired or seems helpful. Imago therapy, developed by Helen LaKelly Hunt, PhD and Harville Hendrix, PhD is a great tool that I teach couples to use. It enhances one’s ability to listen, validate and empathize with their partners. This can really help take away from cycles of blaming or avoiding one another. It can also help when each partner feels isolated in their own corner of what can feeling like a boxing ring. It doesn’t have to be this way. One of the great things about Imago is, once you practice it enough in therapy, you can actually do it on your own as a couple, when having a difficult time.

Co-Parenting

Sometimes a bit of support with understanding child development and parental development is helpful in making decisions as heads of your household. I offer a wide breath of knowledge in resources and current research on these issues. It is not my place however, to tell you what is a proper or improper parenting style choice. It is more a goal of mine to share resources or help identify child or parental development issues to help you develop insight into what might be going on. I can also support respectful listening and problem solving as a team.

Intimacy and Sex

You are likely in a committed relationship because you want to be close with one another on many levels. Are you experiencing not feeling as close as you would like either emotionally, physically or both? Whether this is a long term issues, or you have just experienced a change in your lives that’s triggered a disconnect, I support my clients in developing safe-feeling communication to explore desire, giving one another feedback and opening up about issues related to emotional and sexual fulfillment. Aside from sex being able to feel so good (which is what I hope for for you), being emotionally connected and sexually fulfilled can really help the entire family system. If you are having a hard time sexually and/or emotionally, come in and we will work together to figure out how you and your partner can explore building safety and excitement in your loving relationship.

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