Couples

It is estimated that the average couple waits 6 years after the beginning of conflict in their relationship to seek professional help. Many enter the Willow Tree Counselling office on the brink of divorce or separation with doubts that their relationship is salvageable. As a therapist, I enjoy inviting clients into the neutral ground of my office and facilitating helpful dialogue. I bring hope and practical suggestions to the sessions; you bring a desire to learn new skills and make concrete, healthy changes in your relationship.

I utilize Gottman-method couples counselling.

This is a research-based couples therapy approach based on more than 3 decades of studies by psychologist John Gottman. It is sometimes known as “nuts and bolts” counselling due to its emphasis on practicality.

Gottman-method therapy emphasizes a thorough assessment phase to precisely target areas for change as well as better understand the strengths of your relationship. Identifying and mobilizing strengths is a key component of achieving meaningful change; relationship counselling needn’t be dour and depressing! Sessions range from 50-75 minutes depending on session availability and you can expect the following format:

Assessment

Session 1: Couples attend the first session together. I learn about your history as a couple, we review your reasons for coming to counselling, your expectations for the relationship and your expectations for therapy. At the end of the session, I invite you to complete the Gottman Relationship Checkup questionnaires, individually at home. These questionnaires are not intended to predict the outcome of your relationship, but rather to help us get an in-depth picture of where things are at, including your relationship’s strengths and challenges.

As of July 2017, I transitioned from the paper and pencil Gottman Relationship Check Up questionnaires to an online version, sent via email, to participating couples; this is an effort to improve the accuracy of results interpretation as well as to maximize ease of use for both couples and myself. This new format also allows me to focus in more depth on your results as opposed to tabulating them! Couples’ feedback to the online Gottman Relationship Checkup has been positive.

While completing the questionnaires is optional, it is highly recommended, as doing so yields important information about the health of your relationship, seen from multiple angles. Each member of the couple completes the questionnaires separately which take approximately 90 minutes to  two hours to complete. Results are emailed to Megan once both partners have finished, ideally before session 2.

Session 2: I meet individually with one member of the couple and then the other, either dividing the session time in two or scheduling two separate 50-minute sessions if this is preferred. Here I learn more about you each as individuals and your respective commitment to the relationship.

Session 3: Feedback session. Based on session 1, 2 and the questionnaires, I help you target areas for change and identify the strengths of your relationship. We review the Gottman-method therapy in more depth and how this would frame future therapy sessions. We clarify goals and I share my therapeutic observations.

Intervention

Sessions continue at 50-75minutes each, and total sessions range in number depending on the couples’ need. I generally meet with couples on a weekly basis to begin, depending on scheduling availability. As we see improvement in the relationship, we move to once every 2 weeks, then once monthly, once every 3 months and then once or twice a year. The purpose of the yearly session is to ensure that gains are being maintained over the long term.

Sessions will always start by addressing pressing or immediate issues and then will progress to skill building in the areas targeted for needing improvement. I do frequent exercises and almost always assign between-session homework. This “continues the therapy” throughout the week and helps  maximize the value you are receiving from counselling.

Ongoing client feedback is encouraged to ensure that we are on a therapeutic path that is meeting your needs as a couple.

Fees

Due to the thorough assessment process unique to the Gottman method, there is an initial financial investment, in addition to the 50 or 75-minute session fee, for those choosing to complete the questionnaires.

The cost to complete the questionnaires is $29, USD, which will be charged to you at the time that you register to complete the questionnaires. I will email you a link to get you started.  There is an additional fee of $75 CDN to cover the time it takes for me to review and summarize the online questionnaires as well as develop specific recommendations for you. This fee must be paid before I can complete my review.

If you do not wish to complete the online version of the questionnaires, but would prefer the paper version, I will provide you with paper copies. Please note that the charge for this option is $250, which covers the 2 hours it take for Megan to manually review and summarize the questionnaires, payable at the time that the questionnaires are issued to you.

Appointments

Please note that I am accepting new couples via my waiting list only. If you require urgent intervention, I recommend asking a friend, family member or a health professional for a referral. I have also published some guidelines on choosing a counsellor who is right for you.