The couples who are a good fit for the Relationship Enrichment services provided here at AVL Couples Therapy possess certain characteristics…
They’re very insightful and are usually ahead of the game. Although these couples may not know the specific research – that, on average, couples tend to wait 6 years to seek therapy from the time they begin having significant relationship problems – they understand that relationships are to be nurtured instead of neglected. They don’t wait until the relationship has completely fallen apart before they begin to put it back together again.
They actually like one another. You may laugh at this one, but it’s a very important part of the enrichment work that we will do together. Being mean to each other, such as being critical or contemptuous, will slowly erode the fondness you have for one another and destroy your relationship. Being fond of your partner doesn’t mean that you are going to love everything that they do. We’re human, you know. But it does mean that you care about your partner and do not want to hurt them.
These couples are committed to one another and to the process of making their relationship epic. They want to be together more than anything and are willing to do whatever it takes to make their relationship not just survive, but thrive. Commitment also extends to the therapy process as well. In order to benefit from couples therapy, you and your partner will need to attend sessions consistently, as well as allow time for therapy to yield benefits.
I would venture to say that if you’ve made it this far, your relationship is pretty awesome – and you would like for it to stay that way. Sure, there may be a few kinks to untangle as we work together, but you and your partner have got this! We will build on this awesomeness to enhance and strengthen your relationship even further so that you will be prepared to weather through any storms that may come your way.
Why is Couples Therapy sometimes unsuccessful?
I want to get real here and address some important aspects of Couples Therapy.
Couples Therapy gets a bad rap of being ineffective. And in all honesty, it’s true. There are many factors that contribute to the futile nature of this type of therapy.
Here are some – but not all – of the factors that may contribute to Couples Therapy being unsuccessful.
Couples will often use couples therapy as a place to make a decision about whether or not to stay together. And there is nothing wrong with this. Working with a therapist is totally appropriate to navigate these relationship decisions and challenges. It’s just that some people will gauge the success of couples therapy on whether or not the couple stay together.
One or both members of the couple do not complete homework assignments or work on their relationship outside of the session. They may also not be willing to take responsibility for their part of the problem, or be open to exploring their vulnerabilities. Just attending sessions will not save your relationship. No therapist, no matter how awesome, can fix your problems for you.
Couples are unwilling to accept each other’s differences and/or desperately want to change their partner. As bad as it sucks to say this… It’s not happening. You two are unique individuals with distinct personalities and have a particular way of being in the world. You were yourself before you met your partner, and hopefully you will continue to be yourself in your relationship. Your introvert partner isn’t magically going to change their biology or rewire their brain because you would prefer them to be more outgoing, and vice versa.
There are two people involved, and this can often mean mixed agendas. One person wants to save the relationship, while the other has one foot out the door. Additionally, one person may be ready to end the relationship and will use couples therapy as a place to inform their partner of their decision and want to “dump off” their partner in a safe place with the therapist.
Couples expect a quick-fix solution to their problems. Research shows that couples wait an average of 6 years to seek therapy from the time they began having significant relationship concerns – and expect 4 sessions of couples therapy to repair their relationship. A relationship that has been building up resentment and negativity for many years takes a solid commitment along with attendance and participation at more than 4 sessions.
The therapist the couple is working with has not received training and education in couples therapy, or there is not a good fit between the therapist and the couple. Additionally, therapy may not be successful if concerns regarding addiction or serious mental illness in one or both partners have not been addressed prior to couples therapy.
How can we make Couples Therapy successful?
After reviewing that laundry list of factors that interfere with the success of Couples Therapy, check out this more hopeful list below.
In order to make the most out of Couples Therapy – and get your money’s worth – keep these simple guidelines in mind.
Make sure that your therapist is aware of your agenda. It’s okay to come to couples therapy to figure things out or to decide whether or not you really want to be together. In my practice I only work with couples who are sure that they want to remain together and are fully committed to making their relationship work. However, if you are ambivalent about your relationship and want some support figuring things out, look for a therapist who helps with ambivalent couples and offers an approach such as Discernment Counseling.
Make Couples Therapy a priority. Until your relationship is where you want it to be, Couples Therapy should be the most important item on your calendar. Make time for it. Be consistent. Attend weekly sessions. Each week builds upon the other, and momentum should be maintained. Randomly attending sessions is not very effective, and I don’t want you to be wasting your time or money.
Be willing to accept your partner’s faults and appreciate their differences. No one wants a good relationship to come at the cost of losing who they are in the process. Of course a good relationship is our goal, but we also want you to be comfortable being who you are in your relationship.
Complete your homework. Work on your relationship outside of the session. Integrate the concepts and techniques learned in session into your everyday life. The therapist can provide guidance, support, tools, and techniques, but only you and your partner can decide to take what is provided and put it to work in your relationship. Your relationship only works if you do.
Give couples therapy a chance to work and have realistic expectations. Your problems didn’t occur over a 4 hour period, so why only devote 4 sessions to repairing your relationship before you give up and say “we tried”? It has been found that couples will receive the most benefit and experience the most positive growth between the 7th and the 10th sessions. So make a commitment to attend 8 to 10 sessions at a bare minimum – with a 6 month commitment being ideal.
Be open to admitting fault and sharing responsibility with your partner. Take an honest look at yourself and your relationship. Be vulnerable and open to sharing your thoughts and feelings. Be willing to explore your problems and look at your relationship from a different perspective. Again, the therapist is only a guide.
Want to know what couples therapy with me looks like?
Check out the slides below…
Gottman Method Couples Therapy
The Relationship Enrichment services provided here at AVL Couples Therapy are based on Gottman Method Couples Therapy, a goal-oriented and scientifically-based approach built upon over 40 years of research.
The effectiveness of this approach can, in-part, be attributed to the in-depth assessment of the relationship’s strengths and needs before beginning treatment. Therefore, the first three sessions are assessment only.
Read more about the assessment phase on the next slide…
The assessment phase serves several beneficial purposes. You and your partner will get a sense of my style as a therapist and will be able to determine if you would like to continue working with me.
This phase also allows me to get a better understanding of your relationship so that I can determine if I will be the best therapist to meet your needs as a couple. More than anything I want you to get exactly what you need, whether I’m the therapist that can provide that for you or not.
Read more about the first session on the next slide…
Session One will consist of a warm welcome and a review of my office policies and informed consent. I will then invite you two to share the story of your relationship, the history of your relationship, and your relationship philosophy in order to gain a greater understanding of your unique experience as a couple.
At the end of the session I will give you instructions to complete the Gottman Relationship Checkup, an integral part to enriching your relationship.
Read more about the Gottman Relationship Check up on the next slide…
Gottman Relationship Checkup
The Gottman Relationship Checkup is an online assessment that thoroughly assesses a couple’s strengths and challenges. The checkup consists of 480 questions about friendship, intimacy, how well you know your partner, how you manage emotions and conflict, how you share your values and goals, and what gives meaning to your lives. There are additional questions about parenting, housework, finances, trust, and individual areas of concern.
Set aside 2 hours to complete this assessment. I know, 2 hours can be a long time. But it would take many sessions and hundreds of dollars for me to gather the information contained in this online assessment. So, by taking the assessment you are saving both time and money. And you are getting research-based results and recommendations specific to your relationship.
Read more about Session Two on the next slide…
Session Two will be shared between you and your partner. I will meet with each of you individually for 45 minutes. During this time you will be able to share your own story of what brings you to therapy and discuss how you feel about the relationship. We will also explore any family history that you believe will be relevant to the process. Topics will include your commitment to the relationship, your hopes and expectations, and your personal goals.
It’s important to note that I have a No Secrets Policy. This means that I will not keep information said in this session confidential from your partner. Secrets can create an alliance between the therapist and one partner, which can be damaging to the therapeutic relationship.
Read more about Session Three on the next slide…
We all return together for Session Three, the final phase of the assessment. By this time I will have received your completed online assessment (Gottman Relationship Checkup). I will summarize the results of your assessment using the Sound Relationship House, and discuss goals for treatment.
At this point in time, the assessment phase is winding down and it will be time for you and your partner to decide if you would like to continue working with me. If you decide to proceed, we will collaboratively develop goals for treatment.
Read more about Sessions 4+ on the next slide…
Treatment and Interventions
Session 4, and subsequent sessions, will consist of research-based treatment and interventions specific to your relationship. There are three main domains for therapeutic goals. They focus on managing conflict constructively, enhancing friendship and intimacy, and creating shared meaning.
So, to summarize, I practice from the Gottman Method Couples Therapy model, a research-based, structured, and goal-oriented approach. The first three sessions are assessment only. We begin treatment and interventions in Session 4. Then we work on conflict, friendship, and meaning.
If you would like to enrich your relationship and this is an approach you can get behind, please contact me to schedule a free phone consultation to see if we are a good fit.
Are you ready to commit?
Not only is therapy a commitment of your time and energy, it’s a financial commitment as well. Because much of therapy’s effectiveness is based on these commitments, it’s important that you plan your time and budget your money for up to 6 months of therapy. Many couples will save up before attending therapy to ensure that they will have enough money to complete treatment. I encourage you to carefully consider your level of commitment – as it relates to your time, your energy, and your money – before you decide if Couples Therapy is right for you. To put the financial commitment in perspective, the cost can range from $1,200 (for 8 sessions) to $3,600 (for 6 months). If we work together, I ask that you and your partner both be “all in” and fully committed to making your relationship work.
- Includes Gottman Relationship Checkup
- Two Individual Sessions (45 minutes)
- Collaborative Goal Setting and Planning
- Treatment & Intervention
- Ongoing Assessment and Updating of Goals
AVL Couples Therapy | 20 Battery Park Avenue, Suite 503, Asheville, North Carolina 28801
828.708.7958 | firstname.lastname@example.org