The Three Person Couples Counseling Team

Couples counseling as a team

Couples counseling with Cardinal Point Counseling is a team effort between the couple and your counselor. Different clients go into counseling with differing expectations of how the interaction should work. Sometimes opinions are cultural, with members of some cultures wanting someone to take charge and tell them what to do fully. Others come into counseling with a clear idea of what they want and are not afraid to share it (which is excellent as well). Finally, some people are not in a great position emotionally to know what they need.

Counselors at some places, take a purely non-directive approach. The client is in charge of the agenda and essentially leads the session. This is great for clients who are generally doing well and know what they want.

Other counselors are very directive, have a clear and consistent process, and take a decisive leadership role. This is great for clients who do not know what they want, have never been to counseling before, or are not in a position to think about their agenda.

Cardinal Point Counseling tries to meet you where you are. For some clients, a more directive approach is necessary; for others, less so. Some clients also prefer more structure and process, while others prefer spontaneity and want to come in and talk about whatever is on their minds.

In working with couples, it can be helpful to start with some basic assessments, and if necessary, work on some communication strategies first. For example, if you or your partner are struggling to communicate, you may not want to dive headfirst into sensitive issues. Some couples also need a referee at first to serve as a neutral party to control the tone and focus of conversations.

Treatment plans are developed as a partnership, where after a couple of sessions, you can review a tentative plan and give feedback about your specific needs. Plans can always be adjusted (and should be, as conditions inevitably change). Couples who like a structured approach can benefit from the Gottman Method, which is more directive.

The approach is also likely to differ between couples and individual counseling. For example, individual counseling typically works better when the client is more involved in setting the agenda. The duration at which you attend sessions also changes the approach. For example, some couples choose to be seen monthly, which is often recommended more for maintenance and talking about what has changed since your last session.

Long story short, there is no one perfect process, but we can work together as a team and not just hope the counselor will try to fix your partner, to find the process that is best for you.