One of the questions we are often asked at Vermont Talk Therapy concerns couples counseling. Many times, a couple comes to us for help and eventually decides they would like to have some individual sessions as well. Then the question arises, “Can you see us both in individual therapy?”
The heart of this question is about confidentiality. Is it possible to work with both partners in a couple without discussing what each says with the other person? It takes focus and hard work, but the answer is yes. Each person’s privacy must be respected by their therapist. We do not discuss one partner’s session with the other partner.
Another concern many couples voice is fairness. “Will the therapist take sides?” The best way to answer this question is to think about who the therapist is serving. When a couples counselor is working with an individual, their attention and concern is for that person. They are the client. When they are working with the couple together, the client is the relationship between the partners of the couple. So, the focus is on the relationship and how to support and strengthen it.
In our experience, it is beneficial to work with both partners of a couple. It allows us to get to know each individual, to understand their outlook as it applies to the relationship, and to observe what each partner brings to the relationship. When we understand the inner dynamic of each individual, we can better understand what the interactions between them mean; we can more easily find ways to help the partners communicate clearly and work as a team to solve problems. Seeing each of the partners individually as well as together often has the result of accelerating the progress of the couple’s therapy.
A final question many couples have is, “How long will our couples counseling last?”. We like to think of couples counseling–and individual sessions– as a means to an end. Just as you might work with a doctor during the duration of an illness, you’ll probably want to continue counseling until the conflict in your relationship is resolved. It might take a few sessions; It might take a few months, but if the relationship is valuable, keeping it healthy is valuable as well.
If you–or someone you know–are curious about Upper Valley counseling and would like to know more, get in touch. We would be happy to talk with you.