Couples & Relationship Therapy FAQ
How do I start therapy?
How will I know when I'm "done" with therapy?
The answer to this question is unique to each person and relationship, and it depends on your goals for therapy.
Generally, for couples and partners, being “done” with therapy looks like this: In Emotionally Focused Therapy, we’re aiming for two main stages of change: de-escalating your conflict cycle and restructuring your relationship bond. Many people think that once their conflict cycle has been alleviated, therapy can be concluded. However, research shows that partners are much more likely to relapse into conflict cycles if they skip the important step of restructuring their bond. In other words, we can calm your conflict cycle, but if we don’t address the underlying reasons why you were fighting in the first place, then long term change is much harder to achieve.
If you came to therapy individually to resolve specific issues that are impacting your life, then you may be done once those issues are resolved. For example, perhaps you are struggling with developing meaningful romantic relationships or having a hard time getting over a break-up. Once the issue has been addressed, you may be done with therapy.
That said, even when the immediate issue is resolved, you may decide to continue therapy. Many couples and partners will continue relationship therapy even after they’ve experienced significant change as a challenge to deepen their connection even further. Therapy can improve other aspects of yourself and your life, even if you're not dealing with current problems. Many people use therapy to keep improving themselves, even when they seem happy and successful. Everyone can benefit from therapy, and nothing needs to be "wrong" with you to see a therapist.
Can I do counseling over the phone or through video calls?
With the impacts of Covid-19, I am now conducting all sessions via online therapy for the time being. I will be making alterations to my normal online therapy policy in the future to reflect the increased need for online therapy for some parts of my caseload.
Do you prescribe medication?
No, I do not prescribe medications as a relationship therapist. If I believe you may benefit from medication, I may refer you to a medical professional who can discuss your options with you.
Can you diagnose mental illness?
What issues can relationship therapy help with?
My extensive training and experience in Emotionally Focused Therapy has provided me with the techniques and know-how to help with any relationship problem. Therapy can help with:
- Arguments and conflicts
- Fear of rejection, abandonment, and judgment
- Lying, deception, and secrecy
- Lack of trust
- Poor communication
- Difficulty connecting like you used to
- Cheating, betrayal, and infidelity (emotional or physical)
- Lack of emotional or physical intimacy
You may be afraid that your situation is "too much" for therapy to handle, but I have worked with many people who felt that way, so don't let fear stop you from reaching out!
Do you work with victims of childhood abuse and trauma?
Yes. I have worked with many clients who have experienced abuse and trauma in their life. I am trained to work with abuse and trauma in a gentle and compassionate way so as not to cause any additional harm. Often, abuse and trauma will impact my clients in relationship therapy. It can be important to look at the ways trauma and abuse might have taught a partner certain lessons about connection and vulnerability, and to see if those takeaways have impacted how they connect in relationship.
How do I know if you're the right therapist for me?
Good question. It depends on what aspects of therapy are most important to you. Some people will feel strongly that their therapist have a certain level of training or that they practice a specific modality like Emotionally Focused Therapy. Some folks will look more for what therapy feels like in session and whether progress is being made. Other folks may have financial or time constraints that affect when they can be seen. Whatever your criteria might be, if it feels safe to be honest with your therapist and if they challenge you to meet your goals, you’re probably on the right track.
What happens during the first therapy session?
During the first session I’ll have you sign my practice disclosure which is our working contract while in treatment. I’ll cover some important aspects of therapy, including your rights in therapy, your right to confidentiality, my qualifications, and logistics such as scheduling and payment. The majority of our time, however, will be spent addressing your concerns and what brings you into therapy. We’ll establish some short-term and long-term goals for therapy so we can make sure we stay on track throughout treatment. I know therapy can be a daunting process to start, but after the first session, my clients often leave feeling optimistic with clear expectations for therapy.
How long do therapy appointments last?
Appointments will last either 50 minutes or 80 minutes. If you would like to schedule sessions for longer than 80 minutes, please let me know. When you start therapy, I like to give clients an opportunity to experience both session lengths so they can decide which format feels best. I am also in the process of creating an EFT intensive format that would provide intensive therapy over one or two days. Please feel free to contact me if this intensive format interests you.
How much does therapy cost?
I charge the same rate for individual therapy and couples/partners therapy. Please contact me for specific pricing.
Do you accept insurance?
I do not accept insurance right now. I can issue a superbill for reimbursement of out-of-network benefits if you have them; however, issuing such a document often requires a diagnosis which we will have to discuss. Insurance companies can deny reimbursement for a variety of other reasons as well. Please let me know if this is something you’re interested in.
Do you offer sliding scale services?
I do not offer sliding scale services right now.
How often should I go to therapy?
This is a conversation I have with every client at the beginning of therapy. I find that therapy is most effective when it occurs in at least a once a week. Sometimes work schedules or other life obligations won’t permit for weekly therapy, and biweekly therapy is more fitting. I will also recommend different session frequency depending on the level of intensity to your presenting problems. Therapy is a commitment, and results do depend on how much you can be seen, so please consider this when you’re evaluating whether now is a good time to start treatment.
What ages do you work with in counseling? Do you work with kids?
I sometimes work with teens as young as 14 or 15. Please contact me if you’d like your teen to see me for individual therapy. Otherwise, I work with people throughout the lifespan.
What are your working hours?
*With the impacts of Covid-19, I have moved fully online therapy for the time being. I am now offering availability throughout the day, Monday through Friday. We will make a plan as to whether we will consider in-person therapy later down the road when that becomes an options again.*
Do you counsel LGBTQIA+ people?
Yes, I am happy to work with all definitions of sexuality and gender identity. My M.A. training incorporated specific diversity and inclusion training into all my coursework in order to train counselors who would be prepared to work with everyone requesting mental health services. Since I started practicing, I have always had at least half my caseload represented by LGBTQIA+ individuals or relationships and deeply value each therapeutic relationship I have formed with people with LGBTQIA+ identifications.
Do you offer counseling for those transitioning or hoping to start hormone replacement therapy (HRT)?
Yes. I offer individual or relationship therapy for individuals identifying as transgender, whether you’re in the process of transition or not. I have worked with trans youth and trans adult clients before and value being able to support people who identify this way.
Do you offer pre-marital counseling?
Yes, pre-marital counseling is common in my practice, and it's a great way to prepare for marriage. Emotionally Focused Therapy will help you spot and resolve harmful patterns and triggers for conflict so you can get your marriage off to a great start!
Do you counsel couples who are now divorced?
Yes, it's common to see people who are divorced. Even after a marriage has ended, former partners sometimes still need to interact, especially when sharing childcare responsibilities. Counseling is useful in these situations for smoothing out antagonism or resentment so everyone can move forward with less conflict.
Do you provide counseling for non-monogamous and polyamorous people?
I do. This is a point of specialty for me. During my degree program I took an interest in people who identify somewhere under the non-monogamous umbrella and went through additional professional development to work with this population later in my career. Now, after years of experience with this population, I have been told I am an excellent resource for individuals who identify this way. Emotionally Focused Therapy is also well suited for tracking conflict cycles or cycles of disconnection in more complex romantic structures because it is a systemically-oriented therapy.
Can you help an existing monogamous relationship transition to non-monogamy?
Yes. Sometimes couples will come into my office at some point in the process of transition to a new style of relationship. Often, transitioning to a new relationship style brings up struggles unique to non-monogamy which can leave couples feeling isolated and unsure who to seek help from. I pride myself on being a non-judgmental resource for couples transitioning relationship styles, no matter where you are in the process.
Do you recommend transitioning an existing monogamous relationship to a non-monogamous relationship?
This is completely up to you and your partner. I support whatever kind of relationship you want to practice. If both partners are committed to one style, monogamy or non-monogamy, then the shared direction is clear. However, sometimes couples will come to me with one partner expressing interest in non-monogamy while the other is still committed to monogamy. In this scenario, couples can often struggle to have an honest conversation. I find that therapy is an excellent place for couples wanting or needing to have this conversation, and I’ve had a lot of success facilitating this kind of dialogue.
Can I bring my polyamorous partners with me to therapy sessions?
Yes. There are several different ways to have partners present and incorporated into the process during therapy. This is a conversation I have with all my polyamorous clients at the beginning of the therapy process.
Do you ever recommend divorce?
99.9% of the time I don’t make such recommendations because I never want to take away the decision from my clients to choose for themselves what is right for their life. If a client sincerely thinks divorce might be the best decision for them, I do my best to honor that feeling and explore it in a safe way. I would rather a client be truthful about how they are feeling about divorce than hide it from me and their partner, because it makes it hard to see just how much is at stake when one partner’s feelings are hidden.
Will you pick sides and tell us who is right and wrong?
I don’t pick sides. I work from the standpoint that each partner’s reality is true and real for them. My job is to show you the overlap in your perspectives while also exploring why it might be hard to understand your partner’s viewpoint. One definition of relationship is your ability to see a shared reality; if we get stuck in right and wrong, there’s very little room left to come to a shared understanding.
Can I do individual therapy if I also see you with my partner or partners?
No. Ethically, I can only see one part of the system at a time (with few exceptions). In relationship therapy, I may—from time to time—conduct individual assessment sessions to glean insight needed for further relationship therapy, but this is typically the only circumstance that I blend types of treatment. Sometimes after treatment has concluded clients, will want to shift to a different format of therapy. For example, someone who has concluded individual therapy may want transition to relationship therapy. Shifts in format are possible but aren’t reversible for ethical reasons, so once we’ve change to a new format, changing back usually isn’t possible.
Emotionally Focused Therapy
What is Emotionally-Focused Therapy (EFT)?
EFT is one of the most robust and scientifically validated couples therapies currently available. EFT was created by Sue Johnson in the 1980’s because she noticed the couples therapies available to her as a practitioner just weren’t helping her clients nearly enough. Through a tremendous amount of research on what works in treatment, and through the incorporation of a new science of “attachment”, which is the biological and emotional drive to bond in relationships, EFT has grown into the gold standard for couples/partners treatment throughout the world.
How is EFT different than other couples/partners therapies?
EFT is different than other relationship therapies in several ways. First, EFT focuses on patterns of conflict, identifying specific steps or points in conflict so partners can gain awareness of their conflict cycle. Secondly, EFT restructures the foundation of your relationship by asking each partner to gain comfort talking about their inner experience and deeper needs which tend to get covered up in conflict. EFT works because it instills communication skills and a strong foundation of trust in each other that helps you talk about what’s important throughout the rest your life.
Does EFT work just as well with online therapy?
Yes, EFT has been shown to work well in an online therapy format. Some of the most qualified international EFT therapists conduct online therapy with clients all over the world with good results. I have engaged in training to be able to properly adapt and provide EFT treatment online.