Relationship therapists use different approaches, at Healing Connections we only use evidence-based methods to help couples heal and thrive. I am trained in the Gottman Method and Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy, both models have over four decades of research backing their effectiveness. After completing my graduate program, I knew that to specialize in relational work I would need additional training. I constantly keep seeking knowledge by getting my hands on the latest books, researching, and attending trainings. Couples work is complex, it takes passion and skill to facilitate long-lasting change.
If you are seeking a couples therapist, I recommend you ask them the following questions prior to scheduling:
What models do you use for couples work?
Have you received specialized trainings in these models?
Are these models evidenced-based?
Where can I learn more about these models?
We start by scheduling a brief 10-minutes phone consultation. Both partners can be part of the call or just one. We discuss what you are hoping to get from therapy and why you are coming to therapy. I tell you about my online private practice, my approach to couples therapy, and we discuss logistics. I answer any questions you may have. You might choose to schedule right away or contact me when you are ready. In the event that you are set to schedule, I input your contact information along with your partner's into the HIPPA compliant EHR system and in just a few seconds you'll both receive the intake paperwork that I will need from you. The intake paperwork needs to be completed 48 hrs prior to our session. I am strict on this because I like to prepare before I meet my couples for the first time. So I need time to read through your forms and note things that need to be covered in our first session.
At Healing Connections, we take the assessment process very seriously. We believe that without proper assessment we cannot provide proper care for our couples. The assessment process is four sessions long and is typically completed in a span of two weeks. Some couples want to keep the momentum going and dive into the real work, so they opt for an intensive. The intensive is 5 hours long and allows us to complete the entire process in one day.
This is my opportunity to meet you and your partner. I go beyond the basics and really want to get a snapshot of your relationship. We go back to when you first met and travel through all the milestones you have reached, up until the present. Throughout the 70 minutes, we will spend together, you will be sharing the story of your love. We don't just focus on the crisis or the particular reason that's bringing you in because that's not representative of your entire relationship. I am a hopeless romantic at heart and want to feel your love story. My couples often say that they find it refreshing to reminisce on what brought them together.
At the end of the session, I provide you with a link to complete online questionnaires through The Gottman Institute. These assessments are research-based and provide me with more information about your relationship and your mental health. The scales ask about your satisfaction in the relationship, how attuned your partner is with your needs, sex life, trauma history, depression, etc. There's so much we can cover in 70 minutes, every relationship has a rich history, the online questionnaires ensure nothing important is missed.
Session Two & Three
I then meet for one session with each partner separately. The purpose of these individual sessions is to truly get to know each of you. A relationship is composed of two individuals who have their own histories, which they bring into the partnership. I want to make sure I connect with each of you and take the time to know what it is like to be you. I often describe these sessions as verbal autobiography. This is also the opportunity to be very candid about your relationship without fearing hurting the other person's feelings. Note that I am not a priest, so anything discussed during the individual sessions can come up during our couples sessions. I don't hold secrets for my clients because that defeats the purpose of therapy. I encourage and guide clients to disclose these during upcoming sessions, but if they refuse I have the right to share the information with their partners. I have all of my couples sign a form stating they understand this.
By the time we meet again, as a couple, you should have both completed the online questionnaires. Prior to our session, I spend time reviewing the notes from all of our sessions, intake paperwork, and questionnaire results to put together a strategy plan. This session will feel a bit like school because I will introduce you to the Gottman Method. I focus on the main theory, The Sound Relationship House. I then share the pre-made strategy plan and help you connect the theory to your relationship. Strengths and weaknesses are identified. Notable events in your individual and relational history are discussed. Any mental health concerns, past or present, are noted. Problems are defined and goals are created. This is a very collaborative process, we add and subtract, as we go through it. Based on our strategy plan, we will decide how often we meet and the length of our sessions. I will provide my clinical recommendation but the choice is yours. We wrap the session up, by setting your next appointment.
During our follow-up sessions, you can expect to learn and practice new skills. We will also go over homework assignments that will open new dialogues. We dive deep into core values and deep-rooted dreams/hopes we have for the relationship. I think couples that have worked with me would agree that my sessions are a mix of structured and casual. I prepare for each of my sessions and ensure we are on track with our strategy plan. Yet, I am flexible and throw the plan out the window when needed.
I absolutely love working with couples through all phases of their relationship. I see couples that have been dating for a few months all the way to empty nesters. I help couples rekindle their spark, communicate in a healthy way, reconnect, overcome relational trauma, and adjust to life transitions.