What Is Couples Counseling Like?
Gottman Method Couples Therapy is one of the most effective ways to help couples in distress. John Gottman has followed couples for 40 years to observe what helps a couple stay together and what eventually leads to divorce. I am level 2 trained in Gottman Method Couples Therapy and use it to guide my work with couples in counseling.
The assessment process for couples therapy is three separate sessions and an online survey from each person. The first is a 90-minute joint session as a couple where we explore your current difficulties, the history of your relationship, and how you manage conflict. The next two sessions are done individually to understand better your perspectives of the relationship, your life history, and how those impact the relationship as a whole.
During this initial assessment process, you complete an online survey from the Gottman Institute. It consists of each person getting an email, requiring a $30 payment (paid to the Gottman Institute, not me). From there, each person completes about a 45- to 60-minute survey of both individual and relationship questions. Once complete, a full summary is sent to me for assessment, goal setting, and treatment monitoring.
The session that follows is a summary of areas of strength and areas in need of growth so that together we can develop relationship goals.
Throughout couples therapy, I will be doing my best to observe and describe the process between the two of you so that we can identify where you get stuck. I use the everyday issues you bring to session to introduce skills and exercises that can strengthen your relationship and help you process conflict efficiently at home.
What Is Counseling Like?
An individual assessment is a 90-minute session where we take an overview of your history, what you’re struggling with, and what your goals are for counseling. It can include surveys to assess your symptoms and give us a good baseline. I try to make this initial session as casual and comfortable as possible – however, you may see me jotting notes. When you tell me something, I want to make sure you don’t have to repeat it later. As we get to know each other, that will be less and less of an issue.
Subsequent sessions should feel more like a conversation. Therapy should feel comfortable and validating. We must first understand ourselves and feel understood by others before taking courageous steps toward change.
The difference between this and a chat with a good friend is that I may point out what I see happening in session – emotionally and relationally. Together, we can see if this happens in your everyday life and explore how that may be working or not working for you. Doing this in a safe, non-threatening environment can help transform what happens outside of counseling.
I am also a believer in what I refer to as committed-action. If something isn’t working, active change is needed. But the steps you take toward change need to align with your strengths, values, and motivations. We will work together to identify those and develop small steps to move slowly but surely toward a thriving life.
How long or often will I have to come in?
Sessions are generally 60 minutes. As far as frequency, most of the time I like to let clients decide how often they need to feel supported in the progress they are making. Generally, weekly or every other week is a great place to start. It helps us move through the initial process of paperwork and getting to know each other quickly and gain some momentum towards your goals.
From there is all depends. I have many people who maintain biweekly for quite some time. It feels like a good rhythm for updating, processing, and progressing. Others move to every 3-4 weeks. I like to think of this as “maintenance”. Others still, decide to take breaks or feel they have accomplished what they came to do in therapy at some point in time.
Ultimately, you are the decider about how therapy supports your goals and your life.
What if I don’t feel like therapy is helping?
Thank you for asking! Too often it seems like when people don’t feel like therapy is working, they bail. While I totally understand this response, it misses a great opportunity for growth.
It may be that the therapist or the approach isn’t working for you—and that’s ok. If we can talk about what is and what isn’t working, you can truly get what you need, without writing off therapy altogether, and even if it means changing therapists.
It may seem a little odd, but therapists wonder how things are going too. We don’t always get to hear your feedback and often that’s simply because client’s either don’t feel like they can offer it, or they are too nervous about doing it.
So, please, in our work together. Don’t be afraid to be open and honest about how therapy is going. There is always room for adjustments, both big and small.
What Are You Like?
Well – um – people closest to me describe me as honest, caring, and a good listener (also outdoorsy and adventurous, but that probably doesn’t matter in therapy). Past clients have said I’m easy to talk to. I’m candid, probably because authenticity is one of my most deeply held values. I believe authenticity stitches relationships together and allows people to be seen and truly known (something vital to emotional and relational well-being).
In a therapy relationship with me, you can expect me to be my true self. I will be real and honest with you about what I see happening, with a great deal of compassion and understanding as a fellow human.
I am first a wife and mother. My journey to private practice telehealth was to honor these roles, as well as my own self-care. My faith guides all my interactions with every human because I believe we are all fearfully and wonderfully made. It is connection with other humans that gets us through the inevitable yet unexpected difficult times and helps us thrive. And that connection can only happen when we feel safe and free to share our most vulnerable selves.
Have you every been to therapy?
ABSOLUTELY! I don’t think I could do this job without it.
You see, therapists are not some sort of relational, emotional superheroes. The only reason we are able to help (aside from a ton of training) is because we are not emotionally tied to your situation. We do not have to live your life and all its challenges and outcomes.
You know when you listen to a friend and the answer is so clear to you and you can’t understand why it’s so hard for them? It’s the same sort of thing. When the outcomes and the energy don’t impact us, everyone is better able to listen and support.
But that doesn’t mean we don’t have our own difficult mess—we absolutely do! And some of us are no better at separating from difficult feelings, negative self-talk, and challenging relationship dynamics than any of you.
One thing that makes it a little more difficult moving through life as a therapist is that you notice more—you absorb more—you reflect more. It’s just how we’re built and what we have been trained to do, and that can make life a little more complicated. And that is exactly why I have been and will continue to make therapy an important part of my wellness as a therapist yes, but generally as a human.
Why do you do this? How can you listen to people’s problems all day?
Part of the answer is in the above question: being separated from people’s problems. But the larger answer is how much I believe it matters. If I’ve made any generalizations about humans from my work over the years, it’s that we all just want to feel seen. We all just want to know that we’re not crazy, weak, alone, or broken. In some ways, we’re all all of that. But it’s normal—It’s human. One of my favorite catch phrases is, “Being a human is hard”. It’s why we need each other.
I consider it an honor and a privilege to support other humans in their story. I don’t take their vulnerability lightly. It isn’t easy to share those parts of yourself not knowing if they will be accepted or supported. That’s what I aim to do for my clients—support and encourage.
Fast Fire—This or that?
Sweet or Salty
Definitely sweet but if you can combine both I’m all in.
Water or Mountains-
I spent the bulk of my early adult life in the mountains and they will always hold a special place in my heart
Coffee or tea-
Coffee! Caffeine optional—I just like the taste.
Early bird or Night owl-
I wouldn’t exactly say early bird (the hour of 5:00 is definitely sleepy time) but I’m usually up by 7:00 even without an alarm
Summer or winter-
When my core is warm but I’m bundled up breathing in cold air I feel alive and joyful. Snow is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. That said, I just like experiencing each season for what it offers.
Rugged or city vacation-
This is a tough one. My family bends towards rugged. We love camping and wilderness adventures. I love losing track of time and having nothing to do but set up camp, cook food, and get by. But I can straddle both worlds. I love experiencing the bustle and lights of the city. Live music or comedy is my ideal date.
Do You Take My Insurance?
Insurance is a tricky relationship for both you as the client and me as the provider. Using insurance is a personal decision that only you can make, so I want you to know what is involved.
Currently, I am a provider for a company called Alma. Alma is a wonderful group that does all the heavy lifting for clients and therapists when it comes to insurance. They will check your eligibility & benefits and then let us both know what your out-of-pocket cost will be. They will collect all payments and do all the claim submissions for us! Currently Alma and I work with the following insurance companies:
- Oxford Health Plans
- UHC Student Resources
- AllSavers UHC
- Harvard Pilgrim
If you currently have one of these plans we can move forward using Alma for the insurance process. Please reach out to me to find out about next steps.
If you do not have one of these plans, I am an out-of-network provider, which means I cannot directly bill your insurance company. However, I can provide you with a “Superbill” to submit to your insurance for personal reimbursement. Payment for services is still required upon the day of services per my payment policy discussed and signed upon assessment.
Once a claim is submitted to your insurance, they require a psychological diagnosis, which becomes part of your permanent medical record. They also have more involvement in your care (similar to how parents might want to have a say in wedding planning when they offer to help pay for things). They may dictate how often you can be seen, and they may request a copy of my written records. Sometimes, they come back and say they won’t pay for something they’ve already paid for, and then you are financially responsible for that service. These are some reasons I have been hesitant to work directly with insurance companies; however, I understand why clients choose to do so.
I also understand that insurance coverage may be vital for some people to receive services. Therefore, and because of my concerns with insurance, I am in the process of seeking out insurance contracts that are mental health-friendly. This means they value mental health services and do not often limit, micromanage, or interfere with services. I will update the website if and when these contracts are put in place, which would allow me to begin accepting insurance coverage.
How Does Payment Work?
Part of my payment policy, outlined in the full informed consent you sign when beginning therapy, requires a credit card to be held on file. This gets charged at the end of our session together. I find this keeps money discussions out of the therapy room and makes it easier and more comfortable for everyone.
If you choose to use your insurance, it is required that you provide me with an outline or statement of your benefits so that we know what to expect your out-of-pocket expenses will be.
How Is My Privacy Protected Online?
My duty and obligation is to protect your privacy, no matter where we connect. All of my platforms are HIPPA-compliant, which means that those companies have committed to keeping your information safe to the same extent that I do. I would not work with a company that didn’t. I use an electronic health records (EHR) system called Simple Practice. They offer a client portal that is the most secure form of communication between therapist and client. They also integrated a protected Zoom platform for our sessions. Furthermore, your credit card held on file is a safe and secure way to pay through the portal.
I use Hushmail for my email account, which uses encrypted email to protect any communications. I use RingRx for my office number that provides protected phone calls and text (more on that later).
It is important to be aware and alert to your own privacy with all of this in mind. These companies and I will do our best to protect your information; however, we know that nothing is guaranteed in the world of technology we live in. Keeping our exchanges on these platforms to a minimum and sharing more sensitive information for a live session is the best way to protect your privacy. And in fact, I only discuss billing and scheduling outside of Simple Practice exchanges.
What If I Can't Make It To A Session Or Something Comes Up?
Hey, I’m a burnout therapist! I know life gets crazy. If it does, and it gets in the way of a scheduled session – I understand. However, if things regularly get in the way and become a pattern, I will discuss the timing of committing to counseling with you. Currently, I have a $75 reservation fee if you are unable to provide advanced notice of a cancellation. If we are able to reschedule within the same week, no charge will accrue.
Can I Call or Text You In-Between Sessions?
My work number operates on a HIPPA-compliant web-based app. Therefore, from my end our communications (calls, texts, and voicemails) are cyber-secure. However, there can be no guarantees in the world of technology, particularly when the messages transfer to your (potentially non-secure) device.
Under HIPPA privacy law, you are able to opt-in with a signature to non-secure forms of communication. I, however, do NOT discuss personal or clinical information via these channels. I only respond to issues related to billing, scheduling, and logistics, with perhaps the occasional resource as discussed within a session regarding work we are doing together.
If you are in crisis, it is important to get the best and most immediate help, which is NOT me.
Some numbers that may be useful are below:
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-799-8255
Text: HOME to 741741
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-273-7233
Veterans Crisis Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-373-7888
Text: HELP or INFO to 233733
Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990
Text: TalkWithUs to 66746
Trevor Lifeline for LGBTQIA+ Youth: 1-866-488-7386
Ok, I Suppose I Need To Do This, What's Next?
First – if I didn’t say it yet – “YOU ARE BRAVE”!
Even searching online for help is a MAJOR step forward. It’s easy to believe we should have this all figured out by now. I know that isn’t the case, and I just want to acknowledge every seemingly small step you’ve made to get here.
If after reading this content, deciding that “enough is enough,” AND you feel ready for the next small (MAJOR) step, please call or email me or click on the connect button. We can set up a 20-minute FREE consultation. We can chat and get even more of your questions answered to take the next right step. If I’m not your person, I will work to connect you with that person or service because
EVERY LIFE SHOULD THRIVE
If you have a question not listed above or are ready to begin, schedule your appointment with me today.