Couples Counseling: What Approach is Right for Your Practice?


Couple's Counseling: What Approach is Right for Your Practice

Written By: Kelsey Someliana-Lauer, Virtual Assistant with Therapy Practice Solutions

It’s Valentine’s Day, and what better day to talk about couples counseling?  Couples counseling is increasingly popular in America with nearly half of all couples reporting they’ve utilized the services of a couple’s counselor while together.  Of those couples, nearly two-thirds - 66 percent - have reported benefits of attending counseling in less than twenty sessions.  There is certainly no shortage of trainings mental health counselors can attend to increase their competency in counseling couples - PESI, one of the leading sites counselors can find courses for continuing education credits, has 215 trainings for family and couples counseling listed at this moment alone.  With multiple approaches to couples counseling, how do you choose?

Choosing a modality or an approach to be trained in can be a tough decision.  You may look to peers who have taken the training for advice, or check out the evidence-based statistics of the training (be sure the approach you are interested in has some studies posted proving the effectiveness of the modality!).  If you want extra training in couples counseling but don’t have an approach in mind, check out these three modalities you may be interested in:

The Gottman Method

John Gottman and Julie Gottman crafted this approach to couples counseling after 40 years of data collection - that’s a lot of couples!  This modality includes addressing some of the most common habits that break down a relationship - criticism, contempt, relationship, and stonewalling.  Just some of the strategies you’ll learn in a Gottman training is how to teach couples to send and receive messages, explain the Sound House Theory which has shown to be both reliable and valid, build love maps, and create a vision of the future that includes each individual in it.  The Gottman Method has a number of studies showing its effectiveness with couples, families, domestic abuse survivors, children, and more.  If you’re interested in receiving formal training in The Gottman Method, you can find training here.

Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT)

Emotion-Focused Therapy can be used for both individuals, families, and couples.  In couples counseling, EFT is used to decipher the emotional meaning under a conflict or behavior in a relationship.  For example, a couple that fights over a partner that leaves clothes on the floor is rarely actually fighting about the clothes - more likely, one partner feels the other is being disrespectful to them and their needs by this action.  In EFT, couples will learn how to identify underlying emotions, utilize communication skills instead of actions to express needs, and be ready to receive the messages of their partner.  EFT is significantly researched and shown to help couples in under 20 sessions.  If you’d like formal training in EFT, it can be found here.

Discernment Counseling

Discernment Counseling is a relatively new - less than a decade old - approach to couples counseling.  This modality is useful for when one partner attends counseling with hopes to end the relationship and the other partner would like to continue the relationship.  You may find yourself needing to utilize this approach as 30% of all couples that attend counseling have one partner ready to call it quits and the other wanting to continue!  Discernment Counseling helps each partner name what the main conflict(s) in the relationship is, their part in the conflict(s), and collaborate on a path forward - whether that be together or separate.  If you’d like to receive training in Discernment Counseling, it can be found here.

We hope this blog provided you with a better understanding of just three modalities you can utilize when counseling couples!  Whether you choose one or all three, we can help you advertise your new skills and book some couples on your calendar.  At Therapy Practice Solutions, we know how to talk with couples in crisis, and we’re happy to help both them and you.  If you’re looking for someone that can help fill your schedule by social media creation, answering phones and emails on the same day they’re received, or organize your schedule, fill out a contact form here.  We look forward to hearing from you!


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