Couple Therapy

Finding a Couple Therapist

Finding the best therapist for two people is sometimes complicated. Both people have to be willing to get help, have some initial confidence that the therapist is the “right” person for them, and not feel instantly put on the spot.  Indeed, balancing the dynamic between the two parties is a chronic challenge.

Most therapeutic relationships begin with a phone call. While many consumers of therapy know they should be asking questions, many don’t have any idea what to ask. You probably want a chance to hear (briefly) how this person thinks, approaches problems, and inspires confidence. The following questions do not have right/wrong answers, but may give you some insight into how a therapist approaches a couple:

  • How active are you in the therapy process?
  • Do you recommend if people should stay together or separate?
    • If so, on what basis?
  • What is your comfort level/experience with (as relevant):
    • LGBTQ couples
    • affairs or polyamory
    • sexual abuse
    • domestic violence
    • addiction problems
    • blended families
    • step children
  • If you had to pick, do you have an orientation toward preserving the relationship and/or toward fulfillment of individual needs?
  • What do you do if there’s an alcohol or drug problem?
  • We have ___ sexual problem. If that something you have experience with?
  • What do you think helps couples improve their communication?

Information that will be helpful for the therapist to know is a brief statement of the problem, how long you’ve been together, if you have sought help before, as well as your needs for scheduling. If one person is in distress, such as having suicidal thoughts, struggling with addiction, domestic violence, or having an active affair, be sure to tell the therapist during the intake call.

What to Expect in Couple Therapy

Theoretical orientation is a significant driver in how therapists structure their sessions. Family systems therapists perceive the couple as a system of interacting parts/humans and often believe that individual sessions detract from working with the presenting system/couple. I follow the Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)  model of couple therapy.

The first few appointments are with both partners. Over the course of these sessions, I will review your completed paperwork and begin to understand your patterns of interaction. We will explore your relationship and therapy goals. Following the first two to four sessions, I will meet with each of you individually for a 50 minute session to learn more about your individual concerns. After these individual sessions, all future sessions are held together.