Marital Counseling Questions
My spouse refuses to come to marital counseling, and says it's okay if I come by myself. Is there any value in my attending couples therapy alone?
Yes, there can be. You can learn the principles of Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) and begin to apply them at home. Of course, it’s always better if you attend as a couple; however, the important elements of this model can be taught to one partner. You can learn to better understand yourself and how you interact with your partner, and you can begin to be able to help you and your partner end a “negative cycle.” You’ll learn more about your partner, as well, that you may find helpful.
We just got engaged, and we want to give our marriage the best chance for success. Do you provide premarital therapy?
Yes — and I encourage couples to participate in premarital counseling to help them address any current concerns as well as to learn how to best handle future issues that could potentially cause conflict. Most of my colleagues who practice Emotionally Focused Therapy are adamant that we wish more couples would come to premarital counseling! And, for your friends and family: This makes a perfect wedding gift.
A lot depends on each couple and their situation. Ethics in the counseling field are very important, so I’m always letting my clients know that there are no “guarantees.” Every situation is unique and every couple moves through the therapy process in their own unique ways. Nor would it be ethical to tell clients that we will be able to resolve your concerns or maintain your relationship. Yes, Emotionally Focused Therapy is the most effective choice couples can make; however, the outcomes might not always be what you hoped.
In both couples and individual therapy, we begin with getting acquainted. It’s very important that you feel comfortable with me. Of course, this doesn’t happen magically in the first session, yet I want you to get a feel for how I work and how I support your objectives. This is an opportunity for you to ask questions about the therapy process. I’ll be asking you questions as well so I can learn what brings you to counseling at this time, what you are struggling with and what you hope to accomplish. I strive to help you feel as relaxed as possible and to know that I am always open to hearing any concerns you may have at any time in our work together. Before coming in for your first session you may want to reflect together on your hopes and to identify any apprehension or fear so we can be certain to address those in that initial meeting.
We went to one or two marital counseling sessions in the past and it felt like the therapist was taking sides with one of us. Does that happen in your therapy process?
The model is built to eliminate this possibility (nor would I want to favor one of you over the other). In Emotionally Focused Therapy we look at that “negative cycle” as the problem — not either of you. At times in therapy sessions, it may seem I am focusing on one partner a little more than the other; however, I am always checking in with the other partner to hear from him or her. My goal is to understand each of you — and then to help you more deeply understand each other. The key to success in this process is to discover what has come between you to cause distress, arguing and distance.
It is always hurtful when infidelity occurs. And, it’s one of the greatest struggles couples try to resolve. Fortunately, the Emotionally Focused Therapy model provides us with a proven roadmap for understanding the affair, building a stronger connection in the relationship and moving toward healing and apology. What we find is that many couples who work through the pain of infidelity are opening the door to a closer relationship of much greater understanding than they experienced previously.
Of course. Intimacy is an important part of your lives together. I work mainly with common intimacy and sexual issues such as frequency, making each partner’s needs known and misunderstandings the couple may have developed related to sex. However, I am not a sex therapist, and if there is a need for a couple to explore a particular sexual issue, I would refer you to a sexual specialist.
Individual Counseling Questions
That depends. Often, we start out meeting once a week, though we can meet more frequently at the outset if that meets your initial needs. We try to get to the root of your concerns as quickly as possible. I don’t want you to feel you’ll ever need to schedule more sessions that necessary.
I have tried counseling before for my depression and anxiety. How will counseling with you be different?
Depending on the approach used by your previous counselors, you may find that my way of working is quite different. We use the built-in wisdom of the body and mind to get to the “root” of your concerns and struggles. Most earlier counseling methods relied on changing beliefs and thoughts, but did not reach into the deeper systems within us that are already in place to help us move forward toward our desired goals.
I never received much encouragement when I was growing up. I always wonder whether I am good enough -- at work and in my relationships. How can counseling help me achieve goals I really want?
Despite our parents’ best intentions, you may not have received the essential nurturing when you were young that helped you develop confidence — and courage — to try new things and to fully explore your potential. If you often doubt your abilities, and whether you measure up to others, you certainly are not alone. Unfortunately, over time these self-limiting beliefs have been the driving forces that shaped how you see the world and how you see yourself and your own talents. In therapy, we work to “unleash” your potential and to help you find the courage to take the risks or steps to move forward to a more fulfilling career and to healthy, loving relationships.