• Couples

    Couples Counseling

    People come into couples counseling from a lot of different places. Whether your marriage is in crisis or you’ve been thinking about therapy for a while, here’s what you can expect.

    Couples counseling is an approach to therapy that focuses on strengthening and supporting the relationship between partners. Rather than seeking the good of each partner individually, couples counseling promotes the wellbeing of both partners THROUGH strengthening the relationship. In this setting, the couple is the client. A couples counselor works with the couple-unit to identify goals for the relationship and develop a plan to make changes, work through challenges, and get to where they want to be.

    Couples sessions are 90 minutes long and typically meet weekly. Although each couple is different, it is common for couples to be in counseling between 8 – 20 sessions.


    Emotion Focused Therapy (EFT) for Couples

    EFT is an evidence based approach to working with couples. It is grounded in science and research about human development, attachment theory, and the function of emotions.

    In EFT, the couple is considered to be the expert on the relationship. The couple brings issues or challenges that they would like to address in therapy. The therapist gathers information and works to identify patterns that cause stress, conflict, or distance in the relationship. Together, they work to determine what legitimate needs may be motivating the negative patterns in the relationship.

    Partners will learn how to ask for what they need and how to respond to the needs of the other. Couples develop skills for healthy communication and strategies for navigating situations where conflict is likely to occur. In session and between sessions, couples will practice the techniques and skills that they have learned.



    How do you handle situations where one partner is reluctant to attend therapy?

    It is not unusual for one partner to initially be more motivated toward therapy and change than the other. However, both partners do need to agree to therapy. There needs to be some amount of openness to change and willingness to learn and grow. It is important for both members of a couple to understand that there are no sides. There is only the couple. No one will be ganged up on in therapy. It is the therapist’s job to create a space that feels safe for both partners and to show them that both people are valued and cared for. Interactions are intended to be soothing, not confrontational.

    How do you handle confidentiality? Especially in cases where one partner might disclose something privately?

    There are no secrets. Individual partners do not have an expectation of confidentiality from the other partner. The couple is the client.

    Are the members of the couple ever seen for individual counseling?

    On occasion, individual partners may be seen for an individual counseling session. In these circumstances, the individual session is still considered part of the couple’s counseling process. If a partner chooses to share private information with their therapist that may have an impact on the “couple unit” overall, the therapist will provide feedback and guidance related to communicating this information to the other partner and/or next steps taken in the couple’s process. If there are individual therapy needs that a partner seeks to address, the therapist will provide a referral for that partner for concurrent individual therapy. The majority of couples sessions are held with both members of the couple present.

    Will there be homework?

    Yes. New skills take practice to master, and new habits require repetition to form. As with most things, the amount of time and effort that you put in will correlate with the tempo and amount of benefit that you get out.


    Interview with Stacy Ricotta about Couples Counseling

    What do you do to create a safe and non-judgmental environment for both partners?

    I insist upon it. I set guidelines and expectations at the start. I will shut down interactions that are meant to hurt or harm. Read More