Several CPC staff members specialize in providing counseling services for those who are experiencing distress in their relationship.
Often this distress is experienced through miscommunication, feelings of distance or emptiness, feelings of discouragement or anger, or loss of interest in being close or enjoying time spent together. The source of dissatisfaction may be the result of a specific problem or an accumulation of hurt or frustration through the years.
The initial focus of relationship counseling is to assist the participants in identifying the events or patterns which contribute to the conflict or distance they are experiencing. Next, the emphasis is on developing more constructive ways to address concerns and develop skills to establish new, more satisfying patterns. This may involve learning new communication patterns, how to navigate conflict more constructively, how to make peace with past hurts, and acquiring tools to develop a stronger foundation for friendship, a better working relationship and intimacy. The final stage of relationship counseling involves developing a plan to maintain the new direction and effectively manage future conflicts and stresses.
In some cases, one or both parties may decide that reconciliation is not possible and seek assistance to deal constructively with the various challenges partners face in navigating the dissolution of their relationship. When this occurs in a marriage, divorce has a real impact on all involved, and we seek to provide assistance in minimizing its impact and in facilitating the recovery process.
In addition, CPC staff participate as speakers in Second Presbyterian Church’s Divorce Recovery Program.
The emphasis in relationship counseling is different than in traditional psychotherapy. In traditional counseling, the focus is on the individual who seeks counseling services, to assist them in resolving particular concerns. When appropriate, a diagnosis is made (e.g. depression) and the services may be covered under the client’s insurance policy.
However, in relationship counseling, “the relationship is the client.” We believe that when couples seek marital or premarital counseling, or family members or work colleagues seek assistance to deal with conflict, it is the relationship that is in need of attention and repair. As a result, the initial assessment, and the direction of relationship counseling is very different than individual psychotherapy. In relationship counseling, the focus is not on the individual, but on assisting the participants to develop common goals and to learn skills to achieve these goals for a more solid and satisfying relationship.
Relationship Counseling: Frequently Asked Questions
How does relationship counseling differ from other types of counseling?
Relationship counseling is considered a separate modality than other types of counseling at CPC. In relationship counseling, the client is the relationship, rather than either individual in the relationship. Because of this, the following is done differently:
- There is one chart for the couple, rather than a chart with only one person’s name on it.
- Both individuals sign all the consent forms in the chart.
- If information is released from the chart, both individuals have to agree that the information be released, and have done so in writing.
- The therapist is generally not going to see the individuals separately, unless it is planned that way for a short time, and each person gets the same consideration.
Can I use my insurance to pay for this service? If not, what is the cost?
Relationship counseling at CPC is self-pay only. Some information regarding this:
- In order to bill an insurance company directly, we have to be able to give a mental health diagnosis. Such a diagnosis is given to an individual, not a couple. Although there is a diagnosis code that can be used for marital issues (V code) it is generally not reimbursable with insurance companies, (and can still only be given to an individual, not a couple).
- A couple may choose to seek reimbursement from their insurance company for services as an out-of-network service. CPC can provide a superbill for the couple to use in this case. However, there will not be a mental health diagnosis, so chances are the insurance company will not reimburse.
- Some couples may want to use their healthcare savings account – we can provide a superbill for this as well. It is usually not necessary to have a diagnosis to access funds from a healthcare savings account.
- Even though one individual or the other may separately qualify for a mental health diagnosis, we would probably not be treating that diagnosis in couples’ counselling, so that diagnosis code cannot be used.
What Should We Expect in Relationship Counseling?
Relationship counseling is an active process. Your counselor will first collaborate with you to assess the factors that have led you to seek relationship counseling. The focus of counseling, and the guidance provided by your counselor, will be based on the goals you, as a couple, establish.
It is important for couples to come together unless otherwise directed. We ask that each individual fill out the Relationship Counseling Background Information Form and bring it with you to the first session.
In order to get the most out of your counseling sessions, it is important to do homework assignments between sessions, if assigned by the counselor. Working on a relationship in this way is a significant investment in time and finances – active participation results in maximum benefit.
How many sessions will I need? For how long a period will I need to come to counseling?
The answers to these questions depend greatly on each individual situation. An important aspect of the counseling process is periodic discussion between the couple and counselor to be certain that the identified goals are being achieved and to make agreements regarding the focus and length of therapy. It is not unusual for couples to schedule periodic “refresher sessions” once counseling has been completed in order to maintain gains made.