What should I look for in a couples therapist?

Do your research. Review online directories, such as Psychology Today, to compare different therapists in your area and search by specialties. Check out the therapist’s website, paying special attention to see if their message resonates with you.

Many therapists offer services to couples; however, not all have completed their education and training in couples issues. Ask if they have had courses in couples therapy, or if they have received supervision from someone who was an experienced couples therapist.

Looking for the type of license that a potential therapist holds can be important. Having a license as a Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) indicates that the practitioner has completed coursework specific to couples and understands how to effectively work with the delicate nature of intimate partner relationships.

Look for additional trainings and certifications that the therapist has completed, paying close attention to those trainings and certifications that are specific to the couple relationship and are founded on research.

And last, but certainly not least, you should feel comfortable with the therapist. Research indicates that the most important factor contributing to the success of therapy is the relationship between the therapist and their clients. This means that the relationship you have with your therapist is more important than the therapists’ education and training, more important than the model of therapy the therapist uses, and even more important than the years of experience of the therapist.

Most therapists will offer an initial phone consultation. Take advantage of this opportunity to connect with potential therapists. You should be able to determine if you would feel comfortable working with the therapist within the first few minutes of the conversation.

How do I get started?

Click here to schedule a FREE 30 minute phone consultation to determine if we are a good fit. If the available times do not work with your schedule, call or *text 828.708.7958, or *email me at cindy@avlcouplestherapy.com, to request another time for your consultation.

This phone conversation will give us a chance to interview each other – but not in the anxiety provoking interview way. This will be more of a getting-to-know you talk. I want to ensure that you are getting exactly what you need for your relationship.

It may turn out that our conversation leads to us scheduling your first appointment with me. Or I may know of a trusted colleague that has more experience in your area of need and provide you with a recommendation. Or I may be full, in which case I will provide you with referrals to some of those trusted colleagues I just mentioned. Or you may not feel a connection with me or my approach and wish to continue on your search.

Please note that as a therapist most of my days are spent having uninterrupted time with clients; therefore, I am not always immediately available. I encourage you to leave a message and I will return your call at my earliest convenience.

*Note that text and email are not secure methods of communication. Please reserve text and email communication for scheduling a time for consultation only. We can discuss the details of your particular situation during our phone consultation.

What are your hours?

Saturday 8:00am – 4:00pm

Where are you located?

56 College Street, Suite 304, Asheville, North Carolina 28801

We’ve tried couples therapy before. How are you different?

My approach to couples therapy is more organized than most and utilizes the Gottman Method – a structured, scientifically-based therapy rooted in over 40 years of research.

I also complete a very thorough assessment when we begin our work together, as part of the Gottman Method. This assessment phase allows me to understand the unique strengths and needs of your specific relationship from the start of our work together, eliminating any guesswork and wasted time on your part.

When you work with me you are investing in a therapist who has specific training and education in intimate partner relationships.

I only see a limited number of clients in my practice so you can expect to receive the utmost care and consideration in regards to your relationship needs.

Seeing a carefully selected number of clients allows me to devote time to understanding your specific relationship outside of our sessions together. I will have ample time to review notes, tailor my approaches and interventions to your specific needs, and keep up to date on the latest developments in the field so that you are receiving state-of-the-art treatment.

Couples therapy sessions are 90 minutes, allowing time for deep and meaningful relationship work to take place. I do not book clients back-to-back so you will receive the attention that you deserve and you will not experience the sense of being rushed.

What is the Gottman Method?

Gottman Method Couples Therapy is a researched-based model of therapy that combines the knowledge and wisdom of over 40 years of studies and clinical practice.

It is a structured, goal-oriented, and scientifically-based therapy. The interventions utilized during therapy are based upon the empirical data garnered from the studies of over 3,000 couples.

Dr. John Gottman’s research provides therapists with the knowledge of what actually works to aid couples in achieving healthy, long-term relationships.

What’s with all the technology in session?

As part of the Gottman Method, we get a little tech-y in session. Sessions are videotaped and we also use cool little gadgets called pulse oximeters. Remember, the effectiveness of the Gottman Method is due in large part to scientific research; therefore, we bring some of this science into the session. I’ll explain more about the importance of both of these tools.

Videotaping is beneficial for both of us. During couples’ interactions, there are split-second moments that are red flags that call for specific interventions. It is difficult to catch all of these moments; therefore, having videotape allows me to select the most beneficial interventions for your unique relationship.

Videotaping also holds me accountable for practicing at the highest standards as a couples therapist. As I continue towards certification in the Gottman Method, I receive supervision and I am required to demonstrate the skills necessary to hold this certification.

Don’t worry though, the tapes are confidential, stored securely, and only seen by myself and a select few experienced colleagues who provide me with feedback to become a more effective therapist. It’s like having several qualified therapists helping your relationship, but only having to pay for one!

The pulse oximeters are important in our work together as well. They are small devices that attach to the tip of your finger to measure heart rate and blood oxygen levels. During Dr. Gottman’s research, he found that when we are physiologically aroused (increased heart rate and reduced oxygen levels in the blood, for example) we lose the ability to take in and comprehend information, problem-solve, and listen and show empathy. And, these are the skills necessary to work through conflicts with our partner! No wonder we sometimes feel stuck.

When we are “flooded”, as the experience is often called, we are physically unable to resolve conflict. Most people do not know when they have reached the point of physiological arousal, as indicated by a heart rate exceeding 100 beats per minute.

The pulse oximeters will key us in to this phenomenon during session so that you can practice, in the moment, ways to self-soothe. Once you have a hold on flooding, you are better able to resolve conflicts with your partner.

How long will it take?

You are probably anticipating the answer “it depends” – and you would be correct. It is impossible to predict the total number of sessions needed, as each couple is unique and the number of sessions will vary.

Some couples will attend as few as 12 sessions, while other couples may attend 20 or more sessions to achieve the changes needed to maintain lasting relationship satisfaction. Pre-commitment therapy, or pre-marital counseling, usually calls for fewer sessions, maybe 4 to 5.

Furthermore, some couples will complete their initial run of sessions and go on their way. Others will stay connected with me and schedule occasional refresher sessions or check-ins to ensure that they are maintaining the positive growth they worked so hard to achieve.

What is the investment?

Individual Session – 60 minutes – $100

Couples Session (Intake & Assessment) – 90 minutes – $180

Couples Session – 90 minutes – $150

Refresher Session – 30 minutes – $50

Is it worth the cost?

Couples therapy is an investment in your relationship. How important is it to you to have a healthy relationship with your partner? What is it worth to you?

Think of it this way. You may save up a couple thousand dollars to go on an awesome vacation with your partner. Sure, it’s a beautiful place, you have some delicious meals, and your hotel is quite nice. But if your relationship is suffering, your vacation may not be all that you dreamed it would be. Just because you are on vacation does not mean that the negativity and distance within your relationship stays at home.

Another way of looking at your investment in couples therapy is asking yourself if the success and quality of your most significant relationship is as important as your sofa, or the upgraded package on your car – because the cost is about the same.

Additionally, a bad relationship can have negative impacts on both your health and your wallet. Toxic relationships have been shown to shorten your lifespan and are responsible for deteriorating your physical and mental health. Not only is dealing with health concerns expensive, divorce averages $15,000 and adds the expense of maintaining separate households.

If you are seeking couples therapy and you are unsure of the financial commitment, feel free to give me a call anyway. I can provide referrals to other therapists in the area who accept insurance. And, depending upon your current need, we can discuss other resources such as workshops and books that may be helpful as you decide your readiness for couples therapy.

Do you accept insurance?

I do not accept insurance. Couples Therapy in its pure form, which is what I practice, is not covered by insurance. The purpose of insurance is for the diagnosis and treatment of a mental illness. Insurance companies do not recognize relationship concerns as a mental illness; therefore, my relationship therapy services are not reimbursable. Insurance companies get to decide how many sessions you are allowed to see me and they dictate the services that I provide. Insurance companies also require a diagnosis, which becomes part of your permanent medical record and can disqualify you from certain careers.

Having a private pay therapist means that you will have more control over your treatment. You will not receive a mental health diagnosis and your session notes will not be submitted to an outside third party. We will be able to freely work together in a way that honors your unique situation and I can tailor my approach to best fit your needs.

Do you provide pre-marital counseling?

I sure do! And I call it pre-commitment therapy to encompass all couples that are in the newer stages of a relationship and would like some guidance in building a strong foundation, whether or not they are engaged or planning to marry soon.

Do you see same-sex couples? Are you an affirmative therapist?

Absolutely! Affirmative therapy is an approach that encourages clients to accept their sexual orientation and does not attempt to change who they are. An affirmative therapist will embrace a positive view of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual (LGBTQIA) identities and relationships and will address the negative influences that homophobia, transphobia, and heterosexism have on the lives of clients. As an affirmative therapist, I strive to provide a welcoming and safe space for all sexual orientations and genders where there is not only acceptance, but also appreciation.

What are your qualifications?

I have a Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy and I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate (LMFTA). Additionally, I have received clinical training and completed Levels 1, 2, & 3 in Gottman Method Couples Therapy. I am also a member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) and the North Carolina Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (NCAMFT).

Where can I find relationship resources?

If you are looking for books and games to strengthen your relationship, head on over to the AVL Couples Therapy Resources page. Here you can find books on several different topics, as well as fun games for couples. There’s also links to blogs, podcasts, and much more.

Check out the Unearth Your Passion Relationship Blog. Here I write about common relationship issues, share tips on overcoming difficulties, and post fun weekend activities to participate in with your partner.

You can subscribe to the Unearth Your Passion Newsletter here. By joining you will receive a quarterly newsletter delivered directly to your inbox with the latest blog posts featuring valuable information, including tools and activities that lead to healthy, thriving relationships. During select months the newsletter will feature drawings and giveaways with the opportunity for you to win some very hip swag.

Additionally, valuable information, articles, and videos are shared on the AVL Couples Therapy social media pages. Give them a follow to have meaningful relationship inspiration in your newsfeed. FacebookTwitterInstagramPinterest

AVL Couples Therapy | 56 College Street, Suite 304, Asheville, North Carolina 28801

828.708.7958 | cindy@avlcouplestherapy.com

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