HOW I do Couples Therapy with Dr. Liz
I thought I’d make you a video about why I don’t do couples together anymore.
So I still do quite a bit of couples therapy but not in the traditional sense. About 15% of therapists have training in couples therapy. So, if you’re looking for a couple’s therapist, ask them because a lot of people do couples therapy without having any training in it. Ask them “Do you have specific training?”.
I’m in that 15% and I have extensive training over many years for couples therapy, marriage, and family therapy (that type of thing) but a couple of years ago, I really began to believe that the more personal responsibility you take in a relationship, that the more that relationship can improve.
I really think that when I work with an individual around healing past wounds if they have any (they may not) or beliefs about the relationship, beliefs about themselves, what they deserve, what kind of treatment, that begins to really affect the marriage in a positive way meaning: the better you treat yourself, the better you’re going to treat your partner.
The more you look at yourself, the more responsibility you take for your own actions, your own attitudes, your own little slips here and there, and the more that’s going to improve your relationship and this has worked so well that I’ve even had the other partner want to come in and see me because of the change that they’ve seen in the first partner. Now, I don’t do that. I won’t see two people individually at the same time if I see one of the people. I will not see the other person, I will refer them. Some therapists can do that, just not my gig. I can’t do that.
When we begin to work with really looking at what’s going on and really seeing what’s going on, really changing inside, then everything starts to really improve. It’s easier too. You don’t have to coordinate schedules. That’s really hard when you’re coordinating the schedules of two people, not just one. Well actually, three people: me and the two people coming to therapy. I don’t have to do that.
The other thing is that I really don’t like seeing someone who’s there under duress. So often, people show up for couples therapy they did in the past where it’s like one partner is being “forced to go” like [he, she, or they] don’t really want to be there but the partner has said, “Oh no, you have to go to stay in this marriage” or something like that. That eliminates that. I’m working with a person who wants to be there in my office to improve themselves and improve the relationship. So that’s another advantage and you also don’t have like the post-couples therapy argument that couples used to report or the pre-therapy argument. None of that happens because you’re not going together. So I think those are some sort of side benefits to working individually with somebody.
So anyway, those are some of my reasons and if you’re seeking out a therapist to work individually with to improve your marriage, my advice would be to make it very clear to them that you’re there to help your marriage. Now, if you’re there because you’re not quite sure if you want to separate or divorce or something, you can say that too If you’re in that decision point, but if you really want to stay in your marriage, be very clear with them because therapists typically will work for your goals if they can.
If abuse (like physical and emotional abuse) is going on, it’s a little bit harder. You may have to explore that with the therapist, like “why would I stay in a relationship where some physical or emotional abuse is going on?”, and there are some really good reasons there that I have heard over the years. So it’s not just, “Oh you should leave”, Absolutely not. it’s really a process of working through, particularly if there are children involved, their safety and all kinds of stuff. So hopefully a therapist would understand that and work with you in terms of: How do I improve myself? How do I take care of myself? How do I stay safe (and your children if they are involved) in this relationship?
If physical or emotional abuse isn’t going on then I would just make clear to them that “I want to stay in my marriage and so how do I improve to be able to do that?”
That’s it. All right, so if you want to work with me feel free to reach out.
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