We all live stress-filled lives, busy with kids, work and numerous commitments. Often it’s our marriages that suffer. We don’t leave any margin for investing in the most important earthly relationships we have — our marriages!
When marriages aren’t being nurtured for long periods of time and especially when there is a breach of trust, it can be difficult to recover without professional help from a couples therapist.
Even when the problems are less severe, we frequently don’t know what to do to improve things, and over time the lack of communication and intimacy mounts up, creating painful feelings. Lack of communication and or poor communication skills are the norm for most couples needing counseling help.
Create New Behavior Patterns
Fortunately we can improve communication through communication skills training. We also train couples in what could be called natural laws of marriage – what works and what doesn’t. Last, but not least, we identify the marital dance causing the recurring cycle and create a new pattern characterized by understanding, patience, empathy and unconditional love. Many couples appreciate spiritual direction in addition to scientific principles, which supports a servant’s heart mentality, which goes a long way in marriage.
Invest the Time and Effort
Even when there has not been a breach of trust or addiction issue, there can be severe pain when one or both parties no longer feel in love for a variety of reasons. During couples counseling, each person is received and heard where they are, and many times, putting in effort, time and attention makes a big difference!
Over many years of experience, I have found that there are very specific skill sets needed to guide couples through marital distress. Individual, Group and Couples counseling are utilized, often very intensively at first.
Intensive Therapy Programs are available as needed to intervene effectively and reduce pain and suffering as quickly as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How can we prepare for couples counseling?
It is helpful when couples come into counseling each having thought about what they are receiving in the relationship that they don’t like and what they are not receiving in the relationship that they would appreciate. It is helpful when couples provide specific examples of these issues. Lastly, all couples have a “dance” (a typical pattern of conflict) that plays out. If they can articulate how they see their dance playing out, that is useful in jumpstarting our work.
What should we expect from couples therapy?
I meet with the couple together first to discuss what they’ve prepared for me (see above). Then I typically meet with each person individually to get their personal background and some history. At that point we schedule regular couple’s sessions to work on their issues. Short-term treatment is 8-12 sessions. We will regularly discuss how we are progressing and if what we are doing is helpful.
How long will couples counseling last?
I tell couples to expect what I call “a season of time.” This means that, if they are coming in for counseling in the spring, they can expect that we would work together for most of that season, which is about 90 days.
Is couples counseling only for married couples?
Definitely not! It’s wise to get counseling as a pre-marital couple, or even just as a couple who are wanting to work on issues to see if it makes sense to pursue the relationship further. Response to counseling can tell you a lot about each other as you see how your significant other responds to discussing issues when outside of your dyad.
Can I come to couples counseling without my partner?
Many people come in individually first and hope to bring their partner into the mix once they’ve seen if they’re comfortable with me and they’ve explored their questions about the relationship. Oftentimes the partner encourages this. This is good when one of the persons is struggling and needs support and help to sort out what needs to be addressed. Is this my issue; is this our issue; is it both?
Will you ever see us for individual counseling?
This is a sticky issue. A therapist is loyal to an individual or to the couple relationship. If counseling starts out as couples counseling, it is likely to stay that way. But there are exceptions. It may be determined during couples counseling that one person has deeper personal issues that need attention before couples work is undertaken. We can be flexible to shift to address those individual issues but would then refer out for the couples counseling. This is because loyalty would have shifted to the individual and there are potential conflicts of interest to be concerned about. It is important that the clients understand the therapist’s role and potential conflicts of interest. These issues are openly discussed in session.
Can we bring our child to couple sessions?
People do. Sometimes a sitter cannot be found or the child is too young to be apart from Mom. It is preferable not to have that distraction and it’s not the norm, but there are exceptions and these issues are discussed up front if possible.
What is the success rate for couples counseling?
I have given up on predicting who will do well. There are couples who I think will have great difficulty succeeding who do well and vice versa. I don’t have data on this question. It has been my experience that whenever clients (individuals or couples) work on their issues faithfully over time, they are more likely to succeed. Those who are looking for a quick fix may not sustain their efforts long enough to see improvements and be encouraged to keep working on it.
How much does couples therapy cost?
Short-term treatment is 8-12 sessions. Couple typically meet weekly. The initial session is 240.00 and all subsequent sessions are 215.00. All sessions are 60 minutes. If a couple met for 90 days (commonly done) that would be 12 sessions plus any additional individual sessions done in preparation.
Does insurance cover couples counseling?
I don’t take insurance. However, your insurance company may provide for what is called “out of network” benefits. In that case, your insurance company will reimburse you in part for our sessions. My bookkeeper will provide, on request, a superbill which you can submit to your insurance company. This superbill has all the information your insurance company needs to process your claim. If insurance coverage is needed to afford counseling, call ahead to find out how your insurance company will handle these claims.
Contact Our Couples Counselor
Have questions? Ready to start your first session? Contact Dr. Crow today to see how to take the first step towards healing.