It is estimated that the average couple endures 6 years of conflict in their relationship before seeking 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!

Talking Turkey About Couples Counselling

Couples sessions are 50 minutes and are in-person or by secure video (providing you are both able to be in the same room together). 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 Enhanced Relationship Checkup questionnaires, individually at home. These online 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.

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 one hour 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, for two separate 50-minute sessions. 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 could frame future therapy sessions. We clarify goals and I share my therapeutic observations. Couples then receive a personalized report of their questionnaire results to reference and review.

Intervention

Total sessions range in number, depending on the couples’ need, budget, availability and interest. I generally meet with couples every two weeks to begin, although some couples wish to accelerate progress with weekly sessions. As we see improvement in the relationship, we move to once every 3 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 with the option of progressing to skill building in the areas targeted for needing improvement. I may do an exercise with you in session and often assign between-session homework. This “continues the therapy” throughout the week and helps  maximize the value you are receiving from counselling. Many couples, whether they are working with me or not, also choose to download the free Gottman Card Decks app, which offers a myriad or activities, or “decks” that you can do together.

Ongoing client feedback is encouraged to ensure that we are on a therapeutic path that is meeting your needs as a couple and couples have the option of completing their original questionnaires again, later in the course of counselling, as another way of measuring progress.

Fees

My couples session rate is the same for individual counselling. Please visit the fees page for general information about my pricing.

There is an additional cost of $39 USD for couples who have chosen to complete the Gottman Enhanced Relationship Check Up questionnaires plus a fee of $100, to partially cover the time it takes me to review and summarize the questionnaire results and develop specific recommendations for you. This fee must be paid before I can complete my review.

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