Counselling Sessions/Marriage Counselling/Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy

What to Expect — Initial Assessment

  • Distant Couple - vintageThe first step is to meet with you together as a couple to establish a connection and explore what is happening in your relationship that is keeping you in distress or disconnect
  • I will meet with you together at least once for an assessment of where you are in your relationship currently. You will then complete a package of questions related to your experience and patterns in your relationship.
  • I will then meet with each of you individually.
  • We will then all meet together to listen to feedback and to establish some goals for our work together.

How long are our sessions?

Couple sessions are typically 75 minutes.  Fee is $150 (no HST) payable at the end of the session.

The two individual sessions as part of assessment are $100 each (no HST) for 60 minutes.  Please speak with me if this poses a barrier to therapy for you.

In Emotionally-Focused Couple Therapy, initial work is very present moment and experiential in the sessions themselves.

Misconceptions about Couple Therapy

  1. The therapist will take sides.

With some therapists, this in fact may happen. But an Emotionally Focused Couples (EFT) Therapist is trained to recognize how both partners contribute to their dance of anger or disconnection. Successful therapy invariably requires each partner to understand his or her role in the couple’s distress.

  1. The therapist will tell us we should break up. 

Again, there are probably some therapists who would make this judgment, but the role of an EFT Therapist is to help couples understand how their relationship has gone wrong and to guide them – for as long as they are willing to try – in how to repair it. The decision of whether to stay in a relationship always belongs to the couple.

  1. We are too far gone; the situation is hopeless.

Many couples worry that their problems have gone on so long, there is no hope of improving their relationship. But even long-standing problems can be resolved with EFT therapy. The intensity of anger also does not necessarily indicate that a relationship can’t be improved. The only clear sign that EFT therapy won’t help is if one or both partners have become so disengaged they are no longer willing to try.

  1. Talking about our problems will make things worse.

Many couples have experienced that their own attempts to talk about their problems have made things worse, so this concern is understandable. They may even have had previous experiences in therapy where talking did make things worse. However, an EFT Therapist is trained to create a safe space where problems can be discussed productively. In many cases, the therapist will be able to help partners see each other’s struggles in new ways that open the door to healing and reconciliation.

  1. Couples therapy is a waste of time and does not work.

Many therapists who see couples aren’t trained in an effective model of couples therapy, and there is probably a significant risk that these therapists will not be helpful. However, EFT has years of research demonstrating its effectiveness in helping couples improve their relationships, and follow-up studies show these improvements are long lasting. EFT is one of a handful of couples therapies designated as empirically supported by the American Psychological Association. A therapist trained in EFT is guided by a roadmap that has one of the strongest track records in helping distressed couples.

  1. We (or he or she) need individual therapy first. 

A growing body of evidence suggests that successful couples therapy can actually reduce an individual’s symptoms of depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress, and other psychological disorders. At the very least, a stronger, more supportive relationship will reduce the suffering both partners experience when one partner is struggling with a psychological disorder. Couples therapy may not be the only treatment needed when a partner has significant psychological symptoms, but when the relationship has suffered, it is often the best place to start.

How long will therapy last?

Sessions will normally be weekly at first, moving to bi-weekly, depending on the status of your relationship initially. This approach to therapy will typically require 10-20 sessions.  If, however, your relationship is basically working very well for you and there are only a few places you get “stuck” (ie. step-parenting, changes and losses, etc.), a few sessions may be all you need to be on your way.  If there is trauma in either of your pasts (especially if you have not had individual therapy) or there has been an attachment injury in your relationship (ie. an affair, etc.), it should be expected that therapy would require a longer commitment to move through the full process of EFT with the least chance of relapse.

What will the focus be initially?

Depending, again, on the status of your relationship:

  • Couple in Therapyrestoration of commitment and hope
  • decreasing isolation, distance and loneliness
  • learning to manage intense and negative emotion
  • rebuilding safety and trust (where there has been trauma)
  • managing the sense of chaos (where there has been betrayal)

And then the fun begins!…

Happy Couple CookingYou will learn to identify the “dance” that has kept you locked in anger and isolation and learn to change the steps that are keeping you both from getting your attachment needs met. You will find the safety to be vulnerable, soften and open to giving and receiving care from each other. You will tap into your deeper needs and longings and learn to communicate them and respond to them in each other.

By the end of therapy you should have re-set your way of being with each other so that when difficult times come along you can use them to grow and deepen your relationship.  You will be able to feel safe and secure in your relationship and able to tune in to early signs of relapse/distance. Coming back to the “conversations” from time to time will help in this process. And there is always the opportunity to return for a session every so often if extra support is needed.

Couple Kissing - vintage