Couples counseling is a very specialized area of treatment. Before you begin couples counseling, make sure your provider has been well trained as a specialist and has experience working with couples. Generally, specialized providers will have graduate level coursework and supervised clinical experience in working with couples before beginning to practice independently. There are many approaches to working with couples; ask your potential provider how he or she works to make sure it fits with your needs and values.
While my Ph.D. program was in counseling psychology, my supporting program (or “minor”) within my Ph.D. was in family social science where I specialized in marriage and family therapy. I have completed research in relationship and divorce issues. During my pre-doctoral internship, two of my four supervised rotations focused on couples and families. I also received supervision at the post-doctoral level in working with couples and family problems. Finally, I regularly complete continuing education and professional reading in couples and family therapy.
I tend to take a “pro-marriage” approach although I know not all marriages or relationships can, or should be, saved. In some couples, one partner is leaning out of the relationship while the other wants to save it. I use a process called “discernment counseling” to help these couples determine if they will maintain the status quo, end the relationship or put full effort toward couples counseling. For couples choosing to end their relationship, and who have children, I offer divorce counseling to assist with making the transition work the best possible way for the children. Within couples counseling, I use many of the methods taught by Dr. John Gottman and I have completed the 2nd level of intensive training through the Gottman Institute.
Areas of Focus for Couples:
- Pre-marital counseling
- PREPARE/ENRICH assessment
- Relationship enhancement
- Communication improvement
- Conflict Resolution
- Sexual Dysfunction/Sexual Problems in Relationships
- Infidelity (emotional and physical affairs)
- Parent Coaching
- “Sandwich” generation stress (caring for children and aging parents)
- Life phase changes (new baby, school age children, empty nest, retirement transition)
- Health issues affecting the couple relationship
- Divorce counseling and divorce recovery