What should I expect in Marriage Counseling

What Happens at Marriage Counseling?

Wondering what happens at marriage counseling?

Couples counseling can be scary. Many wonder if it will make things worse. You may wonder how much to say or worry that your partner will be upset if you share too much. It can be embarrassing to talk about certain topics or to even admit you need help. These are all normal feelings.

The first thing that happens is couples share about themselves and why they are seeking someone out. Most marriage counselors ask questions about a couple’s history, what they fight about or about the problems they are experiencing. Both members of the couple should feel comfortable, heard and understood by the counselor. A couple should leave that first visit feeling hope for their relationship or hope that they will accomplish what they need to.

Here are some frequently asked questions about what happens at marriage counseling:

What is the first thing I should be looking for in a Christian marriage counselor?

You’ll know within the first 5 minutes of talking with a therapist if the connection is right (i.e. do you want to keep on talking or quickly get off the phone?). Take the time to do the initial phone consultation, look at their website, ask a friend, and find out what happens in marriage counseling with this particular marriage counselor. Research indicates the SINGLE most important factor in producing growth/change is the relationship between marriage counselors and client. But you should also look at specialty areas, experience and background to see if it matches what you need.

How do the first few appointments work?

When we first meet, we need to gather lots of information so that we can best help you. To accomplish that, the first session is 90 minutes and we will learn the nature of your struggles, your overall history, your ups and downs, what made you fall in love and what you really want. We will fill out an APS test. After that first session, we like to meet with each individual separately for 45 minutes each (you can come at separate times). This is so we can get the opportunity to understand who you are (your family/past history) as well as your perception of the relationship without your partner present.

After these first three hours of assessment, we will ask you to commit to further sessions so that we can do the work we need to get your relationship back on track. We have found what happens at marriage counseling is that very often (though not always!) couples do not commit long enough to make lasting changes that will prevent negative patterns from reoccurring. Couples make the most powerful changes when they commit to at least 10 sessions. These sessions are usually more frequent in the beginning and then spread out over several months to support you over time.

What type of therapy do you practice? Are there issues you do not treat?

For marriage counseling and relationship counseling, we use an interpersonal, experiential and an emotion focused approach that helps you deepen your insight as well as change the ways you respond to each other during times of disconnect and tension. Everything we do is focused on God’s design for a husband and wife, not a cultural or preconceived religious idea.  For individual counseling, we use a blend of humanistic, experiential and cognitive behavioral techniques.

We are happy to provide referrals for substance abuse counseling, severe eating disorders, severe depression and anxiety disorders, active domestic violence, and to those who are currently suicidal and need crisis assistance. I do not provide emergency, after-hours coverage unless it is arranged between therapist and client.