Marriage Counseling Questions
Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is trained as a Psychologist, a Marriage and Family Therapist, and is a Board Certified Life Coach. She is the Founder of Growing Self Counseling and Life Coaching in Denver, Colorado.
Dr. Bobby is the host of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast.
What To Expect in Your Free Marriage Counseling Consultation
It’s understandable to be nervous about meeting with a marriage counselor for the first time. Many people feel uncomfortable about discussing personal problems with a stranger. At the same time, many people feel hopeful that getting professional help for their relationship problems can make the difference between a happy, healthy marriage…. or heartbreak and divorce. Your hopes and fears give you the courage to take a chance, and reach out for help with your marriage.
At Growing Self Counseling and Life Coaching, we will help you have a good experience in your first free couples counseling consultation session. Your first session with a professional marriage counselor can be the start of a new chapter in your marriage.
Here is what you can expect when you meet with one of our professional marriage counselors for your first free marriage counseling consultation session:
#1. Emotional Safety
One of the biggest reasons that people shy away from marriage counseling is that they really worry that a marriage counselor will take sides, and that they will be blamed for the problems in the relationship. (Or even worse, ganged up on by their partner and the therapist).
In good marriage counseling, you should expect emotional safety. Our approach works on the way that you are both interacting with each other, not you individually. We know that both of your responses are valid given your experiences in the relationship. We work hard to ensure that counseling with us is emotionally safe and validating for both of you.
We don’t make judgments about either of you. Instead, we listen to both sides impartially, and focus on helping the two of you understand each other and arrive at compromises that you both feel good about.
FYI, if you are thinking of starting marriage counseling somewhere else, here is a tip to take with you that will save you from a common mistake that many couples make: It is usually a bad idea to try marriage counseling with the therapist who has been working with one of you in individual therapy (which we don’t do around here). If a therapist and one partner have a strong relationship going in to therapy, and the therapist may have pre-existing ideas about the other partner from conversations they’ve had in individual therapy sessions. The partner stepping in to the existing therapeutic relationship is likely to feel that there is an alliance, and that they are being blamed or ganged up on. Marriage counseling is unlikely to be helpful.
Anyone you see at Growing Self is an extremely competent, highly trained marriage counselor. We are required by law to follow a process during the first session that insures that we have the information we need to help you, and that you have the information about us that you need in order to make a decision about whether or not to move forward.
Ethical, competent marriage counselors need to follow a process during the first session. We need to give your information about ourselves (our “required disclosures” and also talk to you about confidentiality, the limits of confidentiality, your rights as our client and practice policies.
We will absolutely have time to talk about the concerns that led you to seek marriage counseling. However, expect to spend some time going over some basic information and legalities about the process of marriage counseling before starting to talk about problems and solutions.
Here is more nuts-and-bolts information about exactly what you can expect if you get in touch with us for a free marriage counseling consultation session:
Initial Follow Up
If you schedule a free consultation meeting, your marriage counselor will follow up with you to say hello and confirm the appointment. Additionally, our office will follow up with you and send you preliminary paperwork to fill out in advance of our meeting. This can be filled out electronically — no printing and faxing.
If you choose to meet with your therapist in-person at one of our area locations, you’ll first check in with the receptionist who will notify your therapist of your arrival. Then your therapist will come to the lobby to greet you.
If you want to meet online through video conferencing, you can give us your preferred platform (Skype, FaceTime for Mac, or Google Hangout) and your contact information ahead of time, and we will call you at the time of your appointment.
During your first consultation meeting, we will go over the rules and regulations of our counseling relationship (as all ethical therapists are required to, by law). You will learn about your confidentiality, the limits of confidentiality, the boundaries of the therapeutic relationship, and your rights as a client. We will provide you with detailed information about our training and experience and give you the opportunity to ask questions. We will go over our scheduling and financial policies with you.
Your Hopes & Our Recommendations
When our required disclosures are complete we will open the conversation to your present concerns. You can talk about your situation, and your hopes for therapy. We will likely ask you questions so as to ensure we have a good understanding of your situation.
By the end of your consultation meeting (about 45 minutes) we will either be able to accept you as a client and describe for you what therapy will look like given the particulars of your situation, or we will provide you with direction about how to find a more appropriate provider.
If you decide to move forward with therapy you can schedule your next meeting directly with your therapist. You will most likely be meeting with your therapist weekly (at first) for 45 minute sessions. Your sessions will start with a brief “check in” period, followed by a collaborative discussion about what to focus on in the day’s meeting.
It’s very helpful for you to take notes during your session so that you have a reminder of the things we talked about and what you’re working on in between sessions. Towards the end of the session we may have recommendations about assignments or things to try in between sessions in order to further your work, depending on the phase of therapy that you are in.
At the end of the session we will check in with you about the most meaningful or helpful (of unhelpful) parts of that day’s conversation so that we can make sure that your sessions together are as valuable to you as possible.
Billing & Insurance
Our office will follow up with you regarding payment. Generally our clients provide us with a credit or debit card number that we charge after your scheduled sessions. We also accept payments from Flexible Healthcare Savings Account Cards. If you prefer to pay by cash or check, our office will assist you.
If you would like to use your insurance to cover marriage counseling we can help you submit claims to your insurance company for reimbursement for your sessions, provided that you are covered for out-of-network behavioral health care.
#3. A Plan
One thing that differentiates our practice from others is that we exclusively use empirically validated strategies to help you improve your relationship. Many couples that I’ve seen have tried marriage counseling before and been disappointed by it, because they simply talk with the therapist about their problems in marriage counseling and nothing changes. (Click here to learn more about essential tips for finding a good marriage counselor).
Endlessly talking about problems does not help you improve your relationship. Good, effective marriage counseling requires having a plan that is tailored to your unique experience. At the start of marriage counseling, you two will outline your goals with your marriage counselor. Every week, you will address one of your goals. The content of your session will likely include information about:
1) What is causing the problem in your marriage.
2) Practical, evidence-based strategies for how to improve your relationship.
3) Homework assignments that will help you learn the skills and have the new experiences with each other that you need to move forward.
How it Ends
The day will come when you find yourself talking extensively about the positive progress and successful changes that you have made in your life, your time with us will likely come to an end. (Although you can always contact us for follow up meetings in the future, if you arrive at another “growth moment” or would like support in maintaining your positive gains).
You provided us such a safe place to be honest with ourselves and with each other our fear of being vulnerable and weak were transformed into a feeling of opportunity to be heard. My husband and I are better friends, parents, lovers and companions than we have ever been.
Meet a Few of Our Relationship Experts
The marriage counselor, couples therapists and premarital counselors of Growing Self have specialized training and years of experience in helping couples reconnect. We use only evidence based strategies that have been proven by research to help you restore your strong bond, and love your relationship again.
Teresa Thomas is a marriage counselor and couples therapist with years of experience in helping couples communicate more effectively, find new solutions to old problems, repair their strong bond, rebuild trust after affairs, successfully blend families, improve their sexual intimacy, and parent joyfully together. She is a couples therapist and parenting coach with a positive, solution focused style who specializes in helping you both make positive changes to your life, as well as to your relationship.
Meagan Terry is a relationship specialist. She is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with over nine years of experience in helping couples reconnect, and enjoy each other again. She uses effective, evidence based forms of marriage counseling including Emotionally-Focused Couples Therapy and The Gottman Method. In addition to working one-on-one with couples, she teaches our Lifetime of Love premarital and relationship class.
M. A., LMFTC
Seth Bender is a marriage and family therapist with specialized training and experience in helping couples heal their relationships, improve communication, release resentments, and achieve new levels of enjoyment and fulfillment with each other. He practices Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy to help you strengthen your bond, as well as positive, empowering and solution focused coaching strategies to help you both take positive action in your relationship.
M. S., ASORC
Dori is a kind, empathetic couples counselor, individual therapist, and life coach who specializes in sex therapy, and helping couples create healthy emotional and sexual intimacy. Her friendly style makes it safe to talk about anything, and her solution-focused approach helps you move past the past, and into a bright new future of intimacy and connection.
Amy-Noelle specializes in relationship dynamics and personal development, and has over 10 years of clinical experience in helping individuals and couples grow into the fullness of their potential. She uses the Gottman Method and also draws from Ester Perel’s work, which integrates psychodynamic, attachment, and systemic theories, as well as body-oriented and mindful therapy approaches to help you both create transformational change in yourselves and in your relationship.
Dr. Chelsea Twiss
Dr. Chelsea has specialized training in Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy as well as Sex Therapy. She can help you both understand yourselves, and each other, so that you can create new, positive ways of relating that heal your bond — on every level.
M.A., N.C.C., LMFT-C
Anastacia's authentic, caring approach to marriage counseling and relationship coaching helps couples find each other's "noble intentions," and re-commit to showing each other love and respect. She can help you heal old hurts, improve your communication, restore trust, and work together as a team.
Amanda is a Marriage Counselor and Relationship Coach with a warm, gentle style that will help you both feel comfortable, respected, and understood. She has a gift for helping couples understand each other compassionately, feel emotionally safe, and start enjoying each other again.
Polly is a marriage counselor with over 25 years of experience in helping couples "come back from the brink," heal their strong bond, and enter into a positive and satisfying new chapter of life together. Her warm, competent style will put you both at ease and help you find new solutions to old problems.
Just knowing that you were going to ask me about my homework made me do it. I did things with you that I couldn’t do on my own.