Presenting Complaints

Couples come to Couples In Step with a variety of issues they’d like addressed.

  • Communication

  • Conflict resolution

  • Addiction

  • Depression and/or anxiety

couple complaining to therapist

Each of these concerns (and others) are ones we’ve heard, and helped couples with, during many years of experience in providing couples and marriage therapy.

Face-to-face marriage and couple counselling sessions, scheduled weekly, are a typical choice for couples. We offer alternatives to weekly/biweekly face-to-face sessions including 3-Day Counselling Intensives and Couples Retreats.

Founder Irene Oudyk-Suk writes about her passion for helping couples here and her experience and training is described here.

Couples Counselling – Initial Treatment Focus

Usually, the first treatment goal is restoring the marriage or couple friendship in order to decrease the loneliness each of you feels in the relationship. Years of distance and isolation may make trust a challenge.

Where open hostility and anger is a major problem, learning to recognize and manage intense emotion is a priority treatment issue. You will learn how to calm yourself and your partner before your emotions hijack you and ruin any chance of a productive discussion between you and your partner.

You may be tempted to stop treatment as soon as things get a bit better. This is not wise because at this point the work of weaving a long lasting relationship begins. As you learn to manage the overwhelming emotions that are part of recognizing your marriage is in trouble, you will begin to have success negotiating your way through situations that used to end in anger or isolation.

If a recent affair is the presenting issue, the first sessions focus almost exclusively on containing the chaos each of you feels. We help you deal with feelings of betrayal, ambivalence, curiosity and anger about the affair partner, as well as the conflicting and rapidly changing emotions you have about yourself and your partner. Sometimes the chaos after the discovery of infidelity requires scheduling more than one session a week for a time. More information about how Couples In Step works with affairs is here.

Couples Counseling Benefits You

Research has demonstrated that most couples come to couples counselling seven or more years after first becoming aware of problems. By then partners desperately want a quick fix. However, couples counselling requires intense work. Improvement takes time.

  • attend regular therapy sessions

  • think of the money you spend on therapy as an investment in the future of your relationship (counselling fees are less than attorney fees!)

  • dedicate time between sessions to practice the skills you learn in therapy (regular practice may mean you’ll achieve your goals with fewer therapy sessions)

  • commit to learning new habits

  • nurture the desire for a healthy and intimate marriage

Patience will pay off. Loneliness can be transformed into companionship. Even after betrayal, trust can be rekindled. And hostility can evolve into kindness.

Our therapists are trained in EFT therapy (more about EFT here), and that’s the approach we use with the couples who come to Couples In Step. EFT has an excellent success rate in clinical studies.

Couples Counseling Benefits

Couples Counselling is an Investment in your Future Together

While the investment is almost always worthwhile, there are some ways you can lighten the financial load:

  • Your extended health benefit is likely to reimburse you for some or all of your couples counselling. The fee schedule we will send you when you contact Couples In Step outlines how to determine coverage, amount of coverage, etc.

  • Most extended benefit plans go from January to December. If you are able, you could postpone the start of your marriage counselling until the fall. You could then use up your yearly maximum from September to December and have access to your full benefit again in January.

  • Couples In Step has reduced fees during weekday hours (before 3:30 pm). Perhaps you can flex your work hours to accommodate marriage counselling. Your doctor may be willing to provide you with a note.

  • Couples who spend time between sessions doing the relevant readings and watching the DVD’s use the actual therapy time more effectively, and in the long run often need fewer sessions.

  • You can schedule longer sessions further apart. Typically therapy begins with weekly sessions. However, you could arrange for bi-weekly sessions.

  • Remember that in nearly all cases divorce, even collaborative divorce, is a lot more costly financially and emotionally than marriage therapy.

Relapse Prevention

No marriage or couples counsellor can guarantee that a successful course of marriage therapy will mean you and your partner will never run into relationship problems again. However, effective couples counselling focuses, from the beginning, on helping the two of you develop interaction patterns that help you talk through your concerns in a constructive manner. At the conclusion of couples counselling, you will spend some time developing rituals for fun and relaxation, and for stress management.

Alternatives to Traditional Couples Counselling

There are other ways to focus on your relationship.

Couples In Step offers a 3-Day Intensive Couples Counselling option. Couples who want to jump start therapy sometimes choose this route. So do couples who are in crisis, or who feel very desperate about their relationship. Occasionally couples who are very pressed for time will elect a 3-Day Intensive.

Many couples profit from a couples retreat. At Couples In Step you can choose from a Hold Me Tight® retreat focusing on emotional connection or a retreat focusing on touch and physical intimacy. Retreats are a cost and time effective way to focus on improving your relationship. Couples In Step Retreats are grounded in EFT, a couples therapy model with excellent clinical outcomes.

Therapists all over the world offer Hold Me Tight® Couples Retreats.  They are listed on the ICEEFT website. These retreats are offered all over North America.

There are literally hundreds of relationship books. I have a few favourites.

My blog posts are about relationships.

Video conferencing is another way for some couples to get counselling. At Couples in Step we’re happy to work with you and your partner by way of video conferencing after we’ve met you through face-to-face counselling sessions, a 3-Day Intensive, or a Hold Me Tight® retreat. The first sessions may be a bit rocky as you get used to the medium. Occasionally video conferencing is not a good medium for counselling. That will become clear after the first two or three sessions.