Couples often wait to enter therapy until things are already at their worst. This means that couples counseling is often too little, too late. We want to help you avoid that.
You may be unsure whether you are ready to start couples counseling. That is okay. We suggest two things:
- Read this whole article.
- Take our free Relationship Challenges Survey (it takes less than 15 minutes).
If you feel like you're walking on eggshells around your partner, we can help you reduce the tension. It may be that you feel confused by all the miscommunication. We can help you restore clear communication. If you feel isolated or neglected, we can help you restore intimacy and companionship.
Challenges in your relationship may be fueling personal challenges. Things like anxiety, depression, anger or addiction. It could also be the other way around. Maybe your personal challenges are causing relationship challenges. (It's usually a bit of both). Couples counseling can help with that, too.
The Cost of Couples Counseling
Many people choose to put therapy off or not go at all because they think it is too expensive. In reality there may be a greater cost to this choice.
Consider some of these costs:
- Increased heath costs due to depression and stress from relationship challenges.
- Missed work due to depression and stress from relationship challenges.
- Poor productivity at work due to relationship challenges.
- Increased housing costs if you split up.
- Greater childcare costs if you split up.
- Growing food costs if you split up.
- Larger transportation costs if you split up.
- Legal fees related to splitting up.
A typical course of couple's counseling is 7 to 12 sessions. On the highest end of our price range, the total cost of 12 sessions would be under $2,000. Any one of the items listed above may cost more than that.
Couples Counseling for Communication Problems
When the heat is on, everyone communicates poorly. It is easy to overstate or understate what you mean when you are speaking from hot or difficult emotions. It is also easy to misunderstand someone else when listening through hot emotions.
A key skill when struggling with communication is being able to self-soothe. It is also important to ask for comfort, or offer comfort. (Even when it means taking a detour in the current conversation.)
That does not mean that we do not honor emotions. Emotions are there for a reason. They tell us that an important need is going unmet. It is a challenge to both honor emotions and keep them from causing static in our efforts to communicate.
Couples Counseling for Intimacy Problems
More and more couples are struggling with intimacy. This includes:
- Infrequent or unsatisfying sex.
- Poor emotional connection.
- Weak spiritual connection.
- Dry intellectual connection.
- Intimacy is more than sex, and sex is the most easily measured category of intimacy.
Some of the factors that contribute to intimacy struggles are normal human struggles. These have existed for all human history. New parents of every generation have experienced this for a time. Most parents eventually find relief.
Today's intimacy struggles are at least partly driven by a culture of isolation. This culture of isolation is different from any other time in history. Things like social media and modern pornography never existed before the year 2000.
Couples Counseling for Recurring Conflict
Many couples experience gridlock on certain topics. These often include things like:
- Work/life balance.
- Traditional/egalitarian roles.
Of course there could be other topics, no list is exhaustive.
Beneath these recurring conflicts are deeply held dreams, values, and goals. Dreams that guide your individual responses to each other in these areas. We can help you get to these deeper issues, rather than on the conflicts on the surface.
Couples Counseling for Addiction or Betrayal
These are the worst case scenarios. But there is hope. Please read our articles on sex addiction or infidelity if this applies to you. Recovery from these betrayals is possible. They do not have to be the end of your relationship.
Effective Methods in Couples Counseling
What to Expect in the First Few Sessions
First Session (both partners present)
This is a very busy session and deals with a lot of housekeeping and formalities. We have to cover:
- Privacy practices.
- Exceptions to privacy.
- Informed consent for therapy.
- The story of your relationship.
- Your relationship philosophy.
- Conflict observation or conflict style discussion.
If you feel safe, we will do a conflict observation, not just discuss your conflict styles. During this exercise, the two of you will discuss something you disagree about. You counselor will observe without intervening. This lasts about ten minutes. While scary, it is many times more valuable than only discussing your conflict styles. It gives your counselor a deeper and clearer understanding of your conflict styles.
Before the second session. After your first session, you will receive access to an online relationship survey. This survey has been deeply researched and validated, and has proven reliable. It helps us to work from facts, not opinions. It quickly gives your counselor a strong grasp of the dynamics of your relationship. You will also receive a paper survey that focuses on you as an individual.
Second and third sessions (one partner present at each session)
You are unique individuals in a unique relationship. You deserve to be understood as human beings, not as formulas. The first session and the surveys provide understanding of your relationship. The individual sessions provide understanding of you as individuals.
These individual sessions also find situations when individual therapy come before couples counseling.
This is where we tie up any loose ends from the first three sessions. Then your counselor will give feedback on what they see in your relationship. They will also suggest a plan to move forward. This plan is unique to you and your relationship because of the first three sessions and surveys.
Fifth session and beyond
In this phase of treatment you start putting the plan into action. You are also making adjustments as needed. No plan is perfect. But acting quickly and firmly on any plan is better than waiting for the perfect plan.
When Does Couples Counseling End?
Early in couples counseling, you will probably come at least once a week. Once you have laid a foundation for long term change, we reduce the frequency of sessions. This is to make sure that the changes stick. If the changes stick, we reduce frequency again. You may decide there are more areas of your relationship to work on. You may decide that you're satisfied.
What to do next?
If you are still unsure if this is for you, take our free Relationship Challenges Survey.