Common Questions about Couples Therapy: Who, What, How?
by Deniss Pleiner, M.A.
There's a lot of stigma and confusion about couple's therapy. That it is only for relationships at the brink of ending. That it is only for married couples. And the though that you may need couples therapy can be a very scary question to ask in the first place.
Once you do decide this may be the right kind of support for you, you still have to figure out how to get started. How much does it cost? How do we start? Where?
Don't worry, to help you manage some of this overwhelm and anxiety, we will be answering the most common questions we get about couple's therapy.
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How do we know we need couples therapy? Who is it for?
Couples therapy is for any couple who is interested in a safe space to learn ways to communicate with one another about what is causing stress in the relationship.
You do not have to be married or engaged or even in a monogamous relationship. There are therapists who support people in open/polyamorous relationships.
You don't have to be a the brink of ending your relationship-- but if you are, it may be helpful to consider couple's therapy to process. You can go to couple's therapy as a preventative measure-- to address stressors in your relationship that have popped up and keep them from building into something that will threaten your relationship.
Who is couple's therapy not for?
Couples therapy is for most couples but it is contraindicated for relationships where there is IPV (intimate partner violence). Most couples therapist will instead attempt to support the partners in accessing the individual support they need.
Other than that, any couple who wants to be in couples therapy can be.
What is couples therapy like?
There are many different types of couples therapy, and many different types of therapists. Our style at TOC Therapy is to treat the relationship and help you develop healthy communication and coping tools. Some modalities that we use at TOC Therapy are:
EFT (emotionally focused therapy)
Gottman Therapy (based on research with monogamous marriages and aimed to help relationships deepen their intimacy and friendship to manage conflict and practice problem solving)
Solution-Focused therapy (couples aiming for a solution to problem now)
Narrative Therapy, aimed at helping couples understand their individual stories and the story of the relationship to identify areas of miscommunication and potential growth/improvement.
As with all therapy at our practice, we provide culturally congruent therapy--we integrate your individual cultures, beliefs, and views into your couple's therapy and help you get a better understanding of how to build a relationship that melds those together-- and trauma informed therapy-- we assess for trauma and are mindful of interventions we introduce and use to help you learn how to support one another when triggers arise.
Couples therapy sessions are about 60-90 minutes long-- your initial sessions may be longer for assessment purposes.
How much does couples therapy cost?
Unfortunately most insurance companies won't cover couple's therapy but it may be worth making a call to your insurance provider.
Be mindful about using your HSA account and contact the appropriate people to confirm that you can use your HSA for couple's therapy.
Out of pocket costs for couple's therapy in California without insurance will be about $150-250.
TOC Therapy's usual fee is $250/session but we offer sliding scale. Contact us to inquire-- we may be able to meet your budget.
Does couples therapy make things worse? Will it work?
Depends on your goals. Like all therapy, if your goal is to be “fixed” it wont work. Therapy is so much about gaining knowledge- about yourself and about the relationship. What is the story of the relationship, where is it at, and where do you want to go from there?
Because couple's therapy is a safe space to talk about your feelings, sometimes those feelings are of wanting to leave-- so yes, sometimes relationships end after couple's therapy.
It is also important to note that you are there to talk about things that you have been avoiding because its painful or scary (or both). Your couple's therapist is there to help you learn how to have these conversations and manage the discomfort that comes from them.
If you are considering couples therapy and would like to work with a culturally congruent and trauma informed therapist, request a free consultation with us down below:
Deniss Pleiner, M.A. is the founder and Clinical Director of TOC Therapy-- a group practice in California tailored to meet the mental health needs of BIPOC adults through online individual and couple's therapy. As Clinical Director, Deniss guides the clinical development of TOC Therapy Associates and oversees clinical services and offerings. Deniss also works as a Mental Health Advocate, hosting workshops for organizations interested in supporting their member's mental health and developing emotionally intelligent leadership.