FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
I’ve compiled a list of the most frequent questions that I have received over my career. It’s normal and encouraged for couples to ask many questions when choosing to work with a Licensed Psychologist. Here are some answers to the questions I receive the most. If you can’t find what you are looking for, please get in touch.
WHO ARE YOU, AND WHAT ARE YOUR CREDENTIALS?
I am a licensed clinical psychologist and a professor in the psychology department at Grand Valley State University. I specialize in couples therapy working with relationships of all types. My research at Grand Valley State University is focused on understanding factors that bring people together in relationships and factors that contribute to distress in relationships. You can learn more about me and my training here.
WHAT IS COUPLES THERAPY?
Couples therapy is a therapy approach that centers on both members within a romantic relationship to help them achieve their goals for their relationship.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I NEED COUPLES THERAPY?
I strongly believe every couple can benefit from couples therapy - whether it is to help with existing problems/challenges or to strengthen an already stable relationship. If you are unsure if you need to seek a therapist, some things to consider are if you feel like your relationship is negatively impacting your sleep, job, parenting abilities, appetite, decision-making abilities, or relationships with friends/loved ones. If you feel like you are having the same arguments over and over, or there is a lack of communication/affection/intimacy, or you are finding yourself like "roommates" instead of romantic partners, these may be indicators that it is time to seek a trained professional for help.
WHAT TYPES OF COUPLES DO YOU WORK WITH?
The couples I work with come from diverse backgrounds with regards to race, ethnicity, religion, gender, and sexual orientation. In addition, the couples I work with present in a variety of different types of relationships. Couples may present for counseling during early dating stages of a relationship, for pre-marital work, for marital counseling, or for long-term relationship counseling. I am committed to helping couples in whichever stage or type of relationship.
HOW DO I KNOW IF IT IS A GOOD FIT?
Unfortunately, you won’t know if it is a good fit until you meet with me for a few sessions. Having a good relationship with both members of a couple is essential for a good therapy outcome. I work hard to develop a relationship with each couple I work with that involves trust, support, and validation, but I also will challenge and encourage you to stretch your thinking, beliefs, and understanding of one another. I understand that my approach will not be for everyone. After a few sessions together, I will check in with you to see if you would like to continue, or if you would like a recommendation to another therapist. The best chances of success in therapy are made when you feel a good connection with your therapist, so I would much rather refer you to someone who can have that connection with you if it isn’t a good fit.
ARE YOU SIMPLY GOING TO TELL US WHO IS “RIGHT” AND WHO IS “WRONG?”
No. As your therapist, I will work on hearing both partner's viewpoints and validating and empathizing with your feelings. My job is not to take sides or place blame on one partner versus the other, even in cases where one partner might have done something that violated the trust of the other (e.g., had an affair).
WHAT CAN I EXPECT IN THE FIRST SESSION?
In the first session (and typically the first few sessions), I will walk you through the process of therapy, gather a significant amount of background information on your relationship as well as each individual’s own life, and we will work to determine your goals for treatment.
WHAT IS A TYPICAL SESSION LIKE?
A typical session can depend on the needs and goals for each couple. Sometimes there may be a specific agenda or issues/progress/homework to discuss, and other times we may spend the entire session focusing on core emotions or something that requires additional processing. Active participation and collaboration are important to increase your chance for improvement. There may be some homework/activities that are assigned for future sessions or simply things to work on before the next session. We will generally start sessions with billing and scheduling future appointments, and I will normally briefly check in on how things have been since we last met to see if there have been any significant changes.
HOW LONG WILL I NEED TO BE IN THERAPY?
There is unfortunately no easy answer to this question, and there is a large range of how many sessions couples work may take. Couples are generally in therapy anywhere from 8-20 sessions. However, some couples might require fewer sessions (e.g., couples working on building/enhancing specific skills with few conflictual problems, pre-marital training) and other couples might require more sessions (e.g., couples working through significant trauma or trust issues like affairs).
HOW OFTEN WILL I NEED TO SCHEDULE SESSIONS?
Typically, therapy starts off more intensive (e.g., weekly or bi-weekly) and might taper off to fewer sessions over time. Many couples who feel they have made significant progress might choose to continue coming for occasional “booster” sessions (e.g., once every couple months) to monitor their progress and have a regular check-in for their relationship.
ARE THERAPY SESSIONS CONFIDENTIAL?
Yes. Your privacy is of utmost importance to me, and you can trust that our sessions as well as any of your personal information is held in the strictest of confidence. Additionally, all forms of communication via the SimplePractice Client Portal, teletherapy, email, or phone are highly secure and HIPAA-compliant. I am ethically and legally bound to protect your personal information. The main exceptions to breaking confidentiality are in cases where there may be suspected child or elder abuse, or when someone is at risk of harming themselves or another person.
WHAT ARE YOUR FEES AND DO YOU ACCEPT INSURANCE?
I provide extended 75 minute couples therapy sessions for $260. I do not accept insurance. Please see “Investment” for more details.
WHAT IF I NEED TO CANCEL MY APPOINTMENT?
Because I only work with four to five couples a week, I am very selective about the couples I work with and I take your reserved appointment time very seriously. I expect you to likewise make the same commitment to our reserved meeting times. I therefore require at least three business days notice if you need to cancel an appointment. If you cancel within three business days but more than 24 hours from your scheduled session, you will be charged half of the session fee for the time reserved for you. If you cancel within 24 hours of your session time or do not show for your appointment, you will be charged the full session fee for the time reserved for you. The advance notification of your absence is necessary for me to see someone else during that time who may be on a waiting list.