Individual Couples Counseling
Are you reading this page because you are in a romantic and committed relationship, and you have begged your partner to go to counseling with you, but your partner still refused?
Or, perhaps, you are afraid to ask your partner to come in with you and you are quietly hoping for a better relationship, but you don’t know how to talk to your partner about that.
You might be feeling angry, frustrated, hopeless, helpless, stuck, and discouraged. I don’t blame you! I would feel similarly if the one person whom I care about the most didn’t want to work on the relationship with me, or if I was too afraid to even bring that topic up. That is a very lonely feeling … as if you were in the relationship solely by yourself.
Perhaps you started losing sleep over this and you find yourself getting more resentful thinking (or saying): “If you only went to counseling with me, everything would be better between us.” OR “Why are you so difficult? What is wrong with you? Why don’t you care as much as I do?” Becoming more critical of your partner is usually a sign that you haven’t been feeling heard or even acknowledged. We all need to be heard and seen! If we’re ignored or dismissed, our nervous systems go into panic mode. You might be getting desperate because no matter how hard you try to talk to your partner; you find your partner disappearing and distancing away from you.
Perhaps you are less vocal about your struggles because you don’t want to start a fight with your partner only by mentioning couples counseling. After all, what if you do mention therapy, and your partner starts getting upset, “Here we go again, you are unhappy with me, and I am disappointing you.” Even though it is very common and understandable for our partners to go into their “shame spirals,” what they often don’t realize is that they are leaving you alone with your feelings and needs. You might be getting tired of loneliness, and you’re dealing with it in various ways: working more, checking out to electronics, blowing up, or even starting to fantasize about “stepping out of your current relationship.”
You Don’t Have to Wait for Your Partner… You Can Start Individual Couples Counseling and Learn New Ways of Communicating!
Because I work with so many couples, only by you telling me what your partner usually says, I can help you understand your partner better, and, therefore, teach you how to approach your partner differently.
I know and believe that you don’t mean to be angry and critical or shut down and withdrawn from the relationship. I also know that there might have been so much hurt in your relationship that your critical pursue or your defensive withdrawal are just your ways of showing your partner how lonely you are or how intimidated you are by your partner’s responses. That makes sense. Individual Couples Counseling can help you feel more “resourced,” and, therefore, more open to finding a different way of getting your points across.
… But How Can Individual Couples Counseling Help if My Partner Doesn’t Work on Him/Her-self?
That is a great question. In Individual Couples Counseling, we are going to be working only with you, not your partner. Even though I will inquire about your partner and your relationship with him/her, I am here to help YOU! Help you get more understanding and organization around your own feelings, perceptions, triggers, behaviors, and therefore, help you experience yourself in your relationship differently. Finally, I am here to help you change your steps in a dance with your partner so that we can experiment how that changes your partner’s moves, and impacts your relationship.
… But I Am NOT the Only One who Needs to Change!
You are right! It does take two to tango. You can be the most self-aware person and you can even change your steps in the dance, BUT, somehow, that will not change your partner. Then what? Well, then we can have a discussion what else might be done to bring you relief. We will brainstorm together and find a way to something better.
… But What If Individual Couples Counseling Helps Me, BUT It Doesn’t Help Our Relationship?
That might happen. And if you end up feeling better, but your relationship hasn’t improved, we will together find a way to create a meaning out of that process. We will come up with a narrative that feels true and genuine to you that will guide you in your relationship.
… But What If My Partner Thinks that I Am Only Going to Counseling Because I Want to Talk Badly About Him/Her?
That can happen, and, in fact, it happens all the time! In that case, I want to help you find ways to describe to your partner WHY you’re doing Individual Couples Counseling. Also, I want to reassure you that Individual Couples Counseling IS NOT about you venting to me about how horrible your partner is. That is not productive. This is about YOU doing your work, so that you can discover, uncover, and connect with YOURSELF in a new way and see how that process impacts your relationship.
I don’t know about you, but when I have a better clarity about myself, then my level of clarity also improves with the people I interact with. From that clear space, I feel way more equipped to handle the challenges of being in a relationship. To me, that feels empowering and inspiring to approach a relationship with that sense of emotional intelligence.
…But What If My Partner Agrees to Couples Counseling after I Have Started Working with You? Can You Start Doing Couples Counseling with Us?
I will not start doing couples counseling with you (since, at that point, I will be YOUR individual therapist), but I can spend up to 3 sessions with you and your partner talking about what YOU and I worked on. In a nutshell, I am more than happy to invite your partner to our session so that we get your partner up to speed. I had some cases where that is all that was needed for the relationship to change. In other cases, I would simply provide a referral to a couples’ counselor who I trust.
Why Should I Pick You Out of All the Other Therapists?
Because I am a couples’ therapist, so I know how relationships work and how they fall apart. Often times, individual therapists don’t have training in couples’ counseling, and they simply don’t know enough about love. They know a lot about “self-love,” independence, and they will be promoting that by saying things like “You cannot depend on him/her! You just have to make yourself happy. Maybe you should leave him/her.”
Importantly, an individual therapist who is not trained in working with couples might start “taking sides” and possibly add to your negative view of your partner. That is not helpful. My goal is to advocate for your relationship, even though I am not seeing your partner! (Well, unless you don’t want me to and have a different goal).