I can’t get my spouse or partner to come to counseling. What can I do?

You have several options.

*One is to suggest going on a one-time basis to get introduced and see if this therapist is someone with whom the two of you might feel comfortable.

*Another idea is to suggest that the reluctant spouse be the one to choose a therapist. Pressuring usually does not work and can be a deterrent to having a successful outcome.

*Engaging your spouse in a heart to heart talk about how he or she feels about counseling could yield results. Often, the reluctant spouse feels he or she is being blamed for the problems and is expecting to be put on the “hot seat.” Encouragement goes much farther than criticism.

*Finally, you can come in for individual counseling instead. Working on one’s personal issues often has a positive influence on a relationship, and in any case will provide clarity in how to handle problems in marriage.

What is the difference between all the different kinds of counselors and does it matter?

Some differences have to do with the theories a therapist works from, and some have to do with the kinds of people and problems the therapist specializes in.

*For example, if you are dealing with substance abuse, domestic violence, or past trauma, it makes sense to find someone experienced in working with those problems.

*What theories a therapist has studied and majored in may be less important to your choice than other factors.

*The most important thing to consider in finding a good therapist–given that he or she is adequately trained and experienced, and practices in an ethical manner–is how you feel about working with that particular therapist. Success in the therapy relationship is built on trust.

Do you see individuals or just couples?

I like to tell people I see women with or without their spouses.

That is because it is so often women who take the initiative to get help from a counselor. There are times a spouse will join in the therapy after they see the benefits the partner in therapy is gaining. But many men also take the initiative in this matter, and I do see many individuals, both male and female. I also like to say that I see people from pre-engagement strategizing to post-divorce recovery!

What are your specialties?

The people who come to see me bring in a variety of issues. Many times, we do work on self-esteem, stress management, and grief. Communication skills and conflict resolution are common topics. I have a special sensitivity to cross cultural diversity and have particular experience with the chronically mentally ill and those suffering with depression and past abuse issues.

What is your training?

I have a Masters degree from Seattle Pacific University and am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. I belong to the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (AAMFT). My work with people is from a “systems based” perspective. This means that I consider people in the context of their family relationships, even when doing individual work.

What happens first?

Of course, first there is some paperwork which I keep as simple as possible. Then, I work with people at the level where they present themselves. If you come in overwhelmed or in crisis, we will work around that first. Deeper work can be done once you are more stabilized. For example, if you are suicidal or in danger of assault, we will first establish a safety plan for you. Therapy is a process, and actually, much like a journey. It is different for everyone, but the basic elements are the same. You have someone professional and objective with whom you can discuss personal and difficult matters, and you make progress toward solutions.

What about using my health insurance?

Many of my clients ask me about using their health insurance. My standard reply includes the following.

You are more than welcome to use your health insurance. I do not contract directly with any health insurance company, but since I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with the State of Washington, many insurance companies will reimburse their customers when they use my services.

As my client, you will pay me up front, week by week, and I will help you complete the one page HCFA form – otherwise known as the Health Insurance Claim Form. (I have copies you may use.)

In this case, I would be considered an out of network provider. Read more about this here.