Couples Counseling …
By: Kurt LaRose MSW LCSW CHT and LICSW
I’ve been treating couples in private practice since 2005. In my work with couples I’ve seen that emotional communication, ownership of thoughts and feelings and increased quality time are not, in and of themselves effective in helping most couples. Over time, I have investigated and developed a method I label as a modified EQ/PETC based approach; I favor these concepts because they contain a more scientific basis for helping couples understand how their brains work (and why). The other reason is that the couples I see here, get better faster and spend less time in care—and more time in living.
In healthy couples and those who can tolerate a method that is based on Emotional Intelligence concepts (a model discussed in a text written by Brent Atkinson) couples counseling sessions are completed in 10-15 hours. Many couples are finished with as few as eight one hour sessions using the Atkinson literature, research and basic neuro-biological concepts. For those clients who do favor a pragmatic experiential approach, modified here in this practice to focus on solutions and shorter treatment times, improvement is generally experienced by the couple within two or three sessions.
Along with an educational component my approach focuses on communication techniques, ways of thinking, ways of de-escalating, ways being assertive without putting the other down, and practicing EQ/PETC strategies using real life topics that the couple chooses (usually in session three). The method is ideal too, because as couples practice in the session, they feel/think/see simultaneous experiential shifts for each party during the discussion of very difficult topics. The relationship moves from who to blame, who is right or wrong, and why something should or should not have happened to an incorporation of psychological and cognitive enhancements with increased understanding and appreciation of all human emotion (especially that which is expressed by your partner)! Sounds different, huh?
Of course couples counseling DC is also modified to account for LGBTQ clients, and couples counseling cases if mental health disorders become a factor. Couples counseling Washington DC (and LaRose working with TalkifUwant) may be shorter or longer in treatment time. Healthy couples generally complete treatment in fewer than 10 one hour sessions.
Couples are treated based on a number of considerations and variables. Health, sexuality, treatment tolerance, married and unmarried, heterosexual and LGBTQ couples, young and aging couples, and evidence of mental health conditions or safety risks are included in couples assessments and intakes. All of these variables can/may affect a couples success and a couples pace in couples therapy.
One of the challenges for a couples therapist (and for those seeking couples counseling Washington DC) is that there are three clients being treated in every couples therapy session: each spouse or partner and then the couple itself. For couples seeking therapy (coined here in this brief introduction as “couples therapy Washington DC” and as “couples counseling DC”) it is helpful to know that all three parties have to find better ways to communicate, to be assertive, to spend increased quality time together, to enjoy sexual interests and to be aware of and pay attention to the biological processes known in the science of love and the science of happiness (each are added/included to the couples therapy EQ/PETC modified intervention).
If substance use disorders, anxiety, depression, high stress, and in certain cases domestic violence and battering are at play (or other mental health and environmental limitations to couples therapy DC) the couples counseling treatment must be adjusted. Couples therapy may need to be modified and customized if EQ is for some reason seen as unacceptable to the couple being seen (and if the modified approaches do not align with the couples real world views and experiences).
If no significant matters are apparent (and if they are treatment can still proceed, is just may move a bit slower) healthy couples will be asked to change their judgements (of themselves and their partners) so that a significant predictor to relationship demise can be reduced/removed (it’s greater than infidelity, greater than the death of a child, greater than active addiction …. And it has to be removed or reduced for the couple to predictably succeed!).
Most people seeking couples counseling and couples therapy in Washington DC are seen in the office; and some couples are seen both in the office and online. Ideally couples counseling is best completed in face to face sessions, with asynchronous online service options useful if needed and as supplemental to face to face sessions. Some couples therapy consumers enjoy having digital journaling, secure emailing and being able to review files in their client portal as they are shared during sessions.
Additionally, unique to my practice in couples therapy is that while I recommend couples be seen initially 3 to 4 weeks in a row (and then ask them to move to every other week as things progress) couple schedule sessions online 24 hours a day. Because I am not controlling the scheduling, and the couples do so, those entering care are more motivated and responsive to interventions during the 8-10-15 week process!
For an example of a couples educational file from a session, shared in their secure server … click here. This file covers communication tools. A couple friendly publicly accessible budget form (auto calculating and ready to go) for couples to use be found … by clicking here. This file is useful in making adjustments to spending, income and savings if / when couples find that they keep disagreeing when “things just keep NOT adding up.”
NOTE: If you are in a relationship where you are a batterer or a victim of battering you should be seen individually to discuss in private safety risks for you and your partner. Couples counseling MAY be an option for batterers and victims, but this would need to be assessed individually before doing so.
A few other links to consider as you look around the site:
| Conflict Resolution | Relationship Counseling | Boundaries PDF | Communication Tools PDF | LGBTQ | Online Therapy Sessions | Batterers and Violence | Sexual Behaviors and Addiction | Anxiety Treatment | Depression Treatment | Stress and Options|