I’ve been married since 2005 and I don’t know about you, but marriage is hard. When you’re not connecting emotionally, constantly arguing, and barely having sex you don’t want to waste time just talking about your problems- you want to do something about them! Chances are these issues have been going on for awhile and both you and your partner are overwhelmed and exhausted.
As a clinician I need to see the full picture, build a relationship with each partner, and lay out a treatment plan that makes sense to you. There is a step-by-step assessment process and this is what it looks like:
Meet as a couple. Let’s review your history through what is called “The Oral History Interview”. It is a series of researched questions that gives me an up close and personal view of the all the amazing things that brought you together, life transitions that may or may not have been navigated well, attachment injuries that have broken trust, and your goals as a couple for this process.
Take the online assessment. This is a fantastic research tool developed by the Gottman Institute that provides clients the ability to critically evaluate their relationship. As the clinician, it gives me a deeper look inside the relationship to understand what pieces of the puzzle are missing.
Two individual sessions. I want to grow a relationship with each of you. I need to get some background history about your family and relationship and answer any questions or concerns about this process with you.
Treatment plan. The second couples session will be when I lay out the treatment plan utilizing the principals of The Sound Relationship House from Gottman Method Couples Therapy. You will see the strengths and growth areas in your relationship. I will pinpoint exactly what we will be working on, why we will be working on it, and how it will apply outside of therapy.
Straight-forward sessions. After the assessment process ends and the treatment plan is agreed upon, we will get right to work. Each of our sessions will start by assessing how things have been going since we last saw one another and picking the appropriate intervention. If there was a big fight, we will use a tool that addresses that argument. If you were emotionally disconnected, we will utilize a tool that helps increase connectivity. All of the tools used in therapy have the same goal in mind- build love maps, increase fondness and admiration, identify and turn towards bids for connection, remove the four horseman of the apocalypse in your dialogue, build dreams for the future, and establish trust. (Check out the blog for more information on each of those goals.
How long will this last? Research on the long-term impact of relationship counseling shows that when couples commit to seeing a counselor weekly until symptoms start to decrease, then moving into spacing out sessions every other week until symptoms are elevated and goals are met, then move to a 3 month, 6 month, and 12 month check-ins see the best results overall. My goal is for you to feel the benefit of your investment early on. If you’re motivated and putting in the work then you will move through the process quicker. If your relationship is healing from an affair or other betrayal the process can take longer.