Today, millions of couples will wake up and realize they need counseling in order to save their relationship.
Only a small percentage of them will reach out for help. But unfortunately, many of those who reach out for help will find a traditional form of marriage counseling that is still in use today… Even though it’s not very effective at all.
From 1990 to 1996 I had a moderate success rate in marriage and relationship counseling, but that all changed when I changed my approach to this incredibly important form of counseling and coaching.
Like most counselors and coaches, for the first six years of my professional work, I used the old tried but not a true form of marriage and relationship counseling. And what do I mean by that?
If I was working with a couple in distress, it didn’t matter if they were dating or married, we would all get together once a week for 8, 12 or 24 weeks in our attempt to save the relationship. Up until 1996, I worked with everyone together. Whether it was on the phone, or in my office, it was always the three of us sitting down trying to figure out a way to save the relationship.
Then in 1996, when I radically changed my whole approach to counseling and coaching. I knew I had to do something totally different in the area of relationship work as well.
I noticed in almost all sessions when our couples were visibly upset with each other, that they would get into arguments, disagreements, interrupt each other, just like they would do at home when they were trying to come to some type of conclusion on how to save the relationship.
Working with couples separately
And a lightbulb went off! I realized, that they were paying me to do exactly what they did at home. And that to me was insane. So in 1996, I told one of the couples I was working with that I was not going to continue working with them together, I was going to separate them and work with them individually on their relationship.
And I said to them quite to the point. “You shouldn’t be paying me to argue. You can do that for free at home. My work is to help you come together and get over the challenges you’re currently facing.”
So here is the method that I use, that I highly recommend all other professionals catch up with and use as well.
1. Get an idea of how the couple interacts
Depending on the amount of anger in the relationship, I usually work with couples one time, the first session, either in person, via Skype or phone. This gives me an idea of how they interact in unhealthy ways, and if they have any type of idea how to interact in healthy ways.
2. Pay attention
For the next 6 to 12 sessions, I work with each individual once a week for one hour one on one with me. This allows me to give them undivided attention, they feel safe that they can say anything that they need to say without their partner there, it builds an incredible amount of faith and trust in my process.
3. Bring the couple together
At the end of 4 to 6 weeks, depending on where we are in regards to a diminishment of the anger and resentment between the two people, I will bring them back together on the phone, Skype or in my office to see how they have improved their relationship skills.
4. Get back to counseling them separately
Depending on where they are in the healing, we may continue to work with individuals once a week again in order to help them heal. It is very common to take approximately six months for a couple to start to turn the relationship around. This is, of course, depending upon the amount of anger, resentment, and bitterness that a couple brings into my practice.
The response has been incredible. This counseling method has helped couples reach healthy conclusions at the end of 4 to 6 months, if they can save the relationship, or if it’s time to Move on. My role as a counselor and coach, of course, is always to look to try to save the relationship first, but after intense work if it’s best for the couple and if there are children involved to separate and move on, they make that decision on their own.
I hope as the years go by, that more professionals will start to use the techniques that I created in 1996. It’s effective. It’s powerful. It’s safe. It’s confidential. And most of all, we get the results that we want in relationship work.”
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