Couples Counseling - Marriage Therapy involves two-to-one interaction with a trained couples therapist. In couples therapy, the two people in a relationship typically meet weekly with a therapist. Couples Counseling is appropriate for all persons in relationships. Many people seek couples therapy to save a failing relationship or to work through a specific issue (depression, sex, codependency, grief, trauma, past trauma, parenting clashes, boundaries, anxiety, social anxiety, ADHD, ADD borderline personality, or narcissism). Others seek couples therapy to prepare for marriage, or to gain clarity about their vulnerabilities as a couple. Sometimes one or both partners pursue individual therapy concurrently – in addition to couples therapy – to address individual issues interfering with the relationship. Couples therapy can strengthen the bond between partners.
For example, while most therapists have some knowledge about sexuality, sexual problems are best managed by a therapist who concentrates on sexual function/dysfunction issues and has received specialized training in these areas. Similarly, someone seeking help for their child is best helped by a therapist who has specific training in play therapy. For a better understanding of our therapists’ specialties, and please refer to our biographies in the About Us section of the site as well as our Information Center where you can read many self-help articles written by our therapists. We have an office in Society Hill as well as in the Art Museum / Fairmount area of Philadelphia, Ocean City, NJ, Santa Fe NM, Richmond VA, and Alpharetta GA.
Deciding to go to couples counseling, marriage therapy can be a difficult decision. In fact, most couples put off going to couples counseling, marriage therapy either because they want to avoid further conflict, or they don’t want to spend the time or money. This often means that by the time you’ve decided to go to couples counseling or marriage therapy, you really need the therapy. It also means that it’s really important to choose a couples counselor or marriage therapist that’s going to be a good fit for you and your relationship. If you’ve decided to begin couples counseling or marriage therapy and want to make sure you get the most out of your couples counselor or marriage therapist here are three things to keep in mind.
Most couples counselors and marriage therapists will list their credentials, as well as a specialized certifications on their website. Give yourself a gift by screening for therapists that specialize in couples counseling specifically. You may not know that while any licensed therapist can technically offer couples counseling, not all therapists are specifically trained in it. Look either for where a therapist did their training or specific post-masters certifications: Marriage and Family Therapy, Imago Therapy, Gottman-style, or Emotionally Focused Therapy. This list of post-masters certifications are by no means exhaustive. If you and your partner are experiencing any kind of sexual intimacy issues, therapists certified by the American Association of Sexuality Educators and Therapists (AASECT) can also be helpful. A simple google search for any of the certifications listed on a therapist’s website can provide you with useful information on their background and the approach they use with couples.
Health care should be a right, and not a privilege, but unfortunately in the US that is not the case. If you have health insurance, you can go to your provider’s website to see what couples counselors are covered. You may find that your insurance provider will not cover couples counseling specifically, so make sure to ask your potential couples counselor on the phone how they typically handle insurance. If you don’t have health insurance, you can go online and find some amazing fee for service couples counselors.
A couples counselor, no matter what you might wish, is not a judge. They are not there to hear both sides of the story and tell you who is right. Couples counselors should help you and your partner to listen to each other, share information and feelings honestly, and identify common negative patterns the two of you fall into. The goal is to teach the two of you better communication skills so that you can resolve issues on your own. A skilled couples counselor won’t tell you who is right or wrong, they may simply help the two of you see the situation from a different perspective and give you some new tools to help the two of you resolve the conflict in a more constructive manner.
During your initial session, or intake, the couples counselor will ask you and your partner about why you are coming in. Notice how it feels to share with them. Do you and your partner feel like you’re getting equal time to speak and balanced feedback? What’s their policy on seeing the two of you individually? Will the couples counselor hold secrets? And if so, what type of secrets? Do you both feel respected? If not, this might not be the best fit for you. Not all couples counselors are the same. Typically, we recommend trying several people and then making an educated guess. If someone says something you don’t like, it might be them. If three therapists are say the same thing, then it’s you!
Both you and your partner should intuitively trust your therapist and feel respected by them. You don’t need to become friends with them, but if you don’t like what comes out of their mouth, it will probably be difficult for you to be vulnerable enough in session to do the work you came to do. If either of you feel like it’s not a good fit, look for another therapist. It can be frustrating to tell your story all over again to someone else, but it’s harder still for good work to get done if one of you doesn’t trust the therapist enough to be honest during session.
If you don’t get along with your therapist, that’s ok. Finding a good couples counselor is all about fit, and good counselors know this. If you are with a good counselor, their feelings won’t be hurt, when you ask for a referral.
The Center for Growth has offices in multiple states. We offer both Couples Counseling and Marriage Therapy inperson as well as virtual appointments.
The Center for Growth Therapy Offices in PA, NJ, VA, GA, NM, FL
If you would like to schedule a couples counseling or marriage therapy appointment, you are encouraged to look at our clinician biographies and schedule online. Each therapist's phone number is listed on their home page, or you can call (215) 922-LOVE (5683) x 100 to speak with one of our intake specialists. You may also contact our Director, “Alex” Caroline Robboy, CAS, MSW, LCSW at (267 324 9564) to discuss your particular situation.