Many couples wait until they are considering divorce before seeking a marriage counselor; Dr. Coughlin recommends couples consult her as soon as they find themselves dissatisfied with the relationship. While it is natural and normal for the “honeymoon to end,” it is not natural or healthy for couples to repeatedly argue, begin seeking activities to exclude the other or avoid spending time together. Few others have the experience a seasoned psychotherapist will have; Dr. Coughlin has been involved in literally thousands of relationships over the years of professional practice. She is able to offer solutions quickly and efficiently to bring a relationship back on track or through a life transition. Whether a married couple or committed life partners (gay or straight), coupleship requires day-to-day nurturing and routine maintenance. Deciding to engage in couples counseling often provides the couple with the ideal venue to air differences and set future goals. Couples’ counseling also helps in holding the couples responsible to meet the goals they set through the accountability of contracting during the therapy session.
The usual pattern for couples therapy is to meet initially as a couple. During that first session Dr. Coughlin will take a brief history of each individual and of the relationship. She will inquire as to the issues each identifies as most significant in the relationship and develop an initial treatment plan. The second and third sessions are usually individual sessions with each partner. The individual sessions allows each person to express his/her views without concern for the partner’s intervention as well as offering Dr. Coughlin the opportunity to talk freely, confronting individual issues openly without concern for providing “ammunition” for the other. Typically the fourth and subsequent sessions are joint. It is preferable to meet weekly during the first two months then drop to biweekly sessions once the initial issues have been resolved.
If either partner is engaged in individual psychotherapy with another therapist, it is recommended that releases be signed to enable the therapists to confer. If either partner wishes to work individually with Dr. Coughlin that should be negotiated within the couples’ session. Dr. Coughlin is skilled in family therapy and, therefore, quite comfortable working individually and jointly, however, everyone must understand the issues of confidentiality and objectivity that can arise using this format. Feel free to consult her as to what is best for you.