Many relationships navigate through difficult times. Anytime two people come together in such an intimate, interdependent manner there are going to be challenges to overcome. And overcome they can! What a couple can expect to get from me is a mental health professional who will not “take sides” but aims to become an advocate for both members of the relationship. This is done in an effort to help each member find their voice in the relationship, and communicate to the other in a healthy, congruent manner. “Congruence” means communicating in a way in which the verbal message is in sync with the nonverbal message (example of incongruence: “Iʼm fine” with arms crossed and back turned to partner). Couples counseling involves examining the uniqueness of the relationship and how behaviors of past interpersonal relationships (even dating back to childhood) effect the current relationship, as well as introducing researched, proven behaviors that can dramatically improve the relationship.
The unfortunate reality is that couples often seek counseling as a last ditch effort. It seems to be the case that couples seek counseling after experiencing several years of relational problems. My hope is that this norm will begin to shift, and couples will view counseling as a first option when facing relational discord. Problems that often bring couples into counseling are managing finances, unfulfilled sex life, managing parental duties, extended family conflict, etc.