"Finding the right professional isn't important. It's essential."
We had gone to "marriage counselors" before. But I found them passive and they just sat there and let us fight.
We'd sit down and I'd start complaining about how he wasn't listening to me. Then he'd start complaining that I was being critical. We'd both get more and more upset. My heart would pound. I felt so vulnerable in that chair, and I kept wishing that the therapist would step in and help him to listen to me...to make it safe for me to express my loneliness and disconnection.
Just at that point, he'd say: "See if you can talk more calmly about this at home. I'll see you next week..."
And we'd go home miserable. And not talk about it, of course. If we couldn't talk in front of him, why'd he think we could do it on our own?
Looking back, to be honest, I blamed my marriage and my husband. I didn't know any better. I never thought in a million years that the couples therapist was to blame.
He'd focus on our complaints, and I learned later that this was all wrong, too. We never got to the issues behind the complaints. We never had the time to, in our 5o-minute sessions.
I don't need to tell you how painful living in a troubled marriage is.
I was living a horror movie. I'd open my mouth, and the words would come out all wrong. I'd try to share my deepest feelings with him, but he couldn't hear me.
So I started to distance. I stayed later and later at work, and would leave for work before he'd get up. When I'd be at home, I'd tell him how unhappy I was, and he'd take it as a criticism of HIM. He avoided me, more and more. The sex stopped. Even the "fun times" traveling were miserable. It was during a 4-week trip to Europe that I realized if marriage counseling and exotic trips didn't help, I had no more options.
I left my marriage out of desperation. The failed marriage counseling
told me it was hopeless,
but I was wrong. When I learned the truth, I said to myself:
"I'm going to learn effective couples therapy, so this won't happen to the couples work with."
What I learned about Couples Therapy was factual and simple:
You need 1 hour 2o minutes to get things accomplished.
You need an Expert, not an "All Purpose Therapist."
"Couples on the Brink" need an intensive weekend.
Please, just cancel your next session. They're probably doing you more harm than good.
“...most therapists learn couples therapy after they get licensed, through workshops and by trial and error. Most specialize in individual therapy,and work with couples on the side. Most have never had anyone observe or critique their couples work.” Bill Doherty 2002, pp. 26
If you think I'm kidding, talk to the couples we help every day. Honest, hard-working people who have struggled to save their marriage with 1, 2, even 3 or 4 counselors who "claimed" they could help, but didn't. These often well-meaning professionals took the couple's insurance. The therapist offered false hope they could help. After a few sessions, they then left the couple with a false sense of despair...
As well-meaning as they might be, they had no business doing couples therapy. But no law prevents them from doing it.
Most of therapists have no training at all in Couples Therapy. A few may have taken one course in graduate school. And they're practicing with outdated ideas that actually harm and not help the couples they see.
"... no mental health specialty group, including even students in marital and family therapy (MFT) training programs, are universally required by national training standards to have even one course specifically on couple therapy, although in practice most MFT programs do require one and few offer two... Furthermore, direct clinical experience with couples is not required anywhere for licensure as a mental health professional, even for licensure as a marital and family therapist. "
Gurman, A. S., & Burton, M. (2014)
So here is what you need to know... the most important points:
I go through more than a thousand resumes each year. I sift through mostly "All Purpose Therapists" who THINK they can do couples therapy. There's so much ignorance out there, that therapists themselves don't realize they're unqualified to practice Couples Therapy.
I know how to recognize a real Couples Therapist when I read their resume and you can, too. Here's what makes them stand out:
They List their Couples Therapy Training Right Up Front
They say things like: "I've completed Gottman Method Couples Therapy Level I & II." Or "I've done the Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy Externship and I'm going for certification." That's what you want to look for too.
What makes these therapists so different, is that they know what they've doing. They are active, and don't sit there and let you fight. They are experienced in seeing couples.
While "All Purpose Therapists" dread the "Couple in an Affair" or "The Hostile Couple," these folks welcome you in. Why? Because like any skilled professional, they know what they're doing.
Real Couples Therapists Don't Focus On Your Complaints.
They don't "feed you the fish." They TEACH you to fish. If someone is telling you how to solve your specific problem, you aren't dealing with a real Couples Therapist. We know that complaints are usually not the problem. It's not your personality differences. Or that he's a slob and she's a neatnik. It may not even be the affair, painful as that sounds...Real Couples Therapists focus on HOW to talk, and lets the couple figure out their own solutions. That's what the evidence says to do.
But It's More Than Good Communication. They talk about things like: "neuroscience," "attachment"and "differentiation." Couples Therapists help you focus on the: "Me without you" as well as the: "Me with you."
Effective, Evidence-based treatment that is conducted over 1 hour 20 minutes. Done by Experienced Couples Therapists.
We're also international, which means we treat couples in any of 12 different languages. We can see you over a weekend couples retreat or online, to make Couples Therapy super-convenient.
But we're also thorough. We conduct an Extensive Assessment we call a "State of the Union" before we do a bit of therapy with you.
"Science" means "exacting." We don't cut corners.
See what some of our clients have to say:
"A happier home life..."
“Thank you so much for helping us to have a happy home life again.”
"You helped us have deeper conversations..."
“Words cannot begin to describe how thankful we are! Your coaching helped us have conversations on a deeper level and in more respectful ways.”
"It was far more useful than our work with others..."
“We both really valued your perspective. It was far more useful than our work with others in the past.”
See what a difference we can make in helping the two of you be happier in love AND in intimate relating.
Dr. Kathy McMahon
Couples Therapy Inc.
Didn't get everything done over the weekend? No worries. You have two full sessions to complete in an online or in a face-to-face follow-up. That's TWO one hour-20 minute sessions to provide a refresher, or work through a current disagreement. We make sure you are satisfied and know the direction to take in turning things around.
“My heartfelt thanks for your gifted counseling.”
"If it weren't for you..."
““If it weren’t for you, we wouldn’t be HAVING a wedding…””
"We have seen numerous therapists over the last three years.."
"... and our Couples Therapist at Couples Therapy Inc. by far exceeded all of our expectations.”
Our Intensive Couples Retreat and online couples Assessments are an investment of your time, energy, and resources. What's your marriage worth to you? And there's work our therapists do behind the scenes. You'll use a tool we call: "The BIG BIG Book." It's completed online. We spend hours reading every word you write about your current situation. You each fill it out separately, and then it's carefully read, scored, and studied.
So when you do see us face-to-face, you've already told us a lot...about yourself, how you see things, and what you want out of therapy. In this we're unique. Our BIG BIG Book is the most extensive assessment tool you'll find anywhere, and for our couples, it is the start of their therapy.
This way, you will save hours in scheduled, face-to-face marriage counseling. You also don't need to say things in front of your spouse, that might be better written to your therapist after you've given it some careful thought. Put it the right way. In your own words. Without pressure.
That's because insurance pays for the treatment of mental illness,
not troubled marriages.
Most insurance companies refuse to pay for code V61.01 Relationship Problems. If they pay for it, you can submit a bill. But you'll find, like most of our clients, that they pay:
"We’ll bring our experience, enthusiasm, and energy to helping you reach your relationship goals..”
P.S.: Your marriage is the best investment you can make in your family's future happiness. You deserve to be happy as well. . Our couples therapists
are some of the best trained on the planet. So many couples wait over 6 years before seeking help. Don't be one of them. If you're marriage is in trouble get help now and start living a happier life. A marriage retreat just takes a weekend!