Looking for a couple's therapist is stressful, because both of you need to like this person enough to be willing to talk to them about the intimate details of your partnership. Add in the fact that this may be a point in your relationship where the two of you are having difficulty coordinating or agreeing about anything.
I get it. No one wants to go to couples therapy. It often means that the couple as a unit is in danger. One or both of you are unhappy, and you're uncertain of how things are going to play out, and that's a scary and frustrating place to be.
I want to help you gain clarity about what is going wrong in your relationship and what you want to do about it.
To start, we'll feel out the fit between the three of us in the first session, to make sure that I'm someone that you both feel comfortable with. Aspects of my identity, particularly race and gender, may impact whether or not I will be a safe enough person for you to be vulnerable with, and differences between the two of you may mean that what feels safe for one person does not feel safe for the other.
If I'm a good enough fit, we'll move on to identifying what each member of the couple needs from the other. This includes differentiating between needs that you can meet on your own or with a friend or family member, and those that can only be met by your partner.
Next we'll pinpoint the obstacles that prevent these needs from being met. This could be a difference in values, a time or energy deficit, built up resentment, or difficulty understanding the other's perspective. We will also examine the patterns of how you relate to each other, and work to interrupt those that lead to conflict and misunderstandings.
You'll practice actively listening for the emotional undertones in your partner's requests, and demonstrating empathy for your partner's sadness, frustration and longing. As the therapist I will ensure that both partners receive time to speak, guard against finger pointing and mind-reading, and encourage self-reflection.
We'll brainstorm creative ways in which to meet the needs of each partner while accounting for the impact that this has on the other, as well as their limitations.
If it is relevant to your situation, I will hold space for a discussion of whether or not the relationship should continue, or if it would be better to separate.
If reading about this framework makes you feel calmer or more hopeful for the future, I encourage you to take the next step and schedule an initial phone call.