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John C. Friel, Ph.D. Licensed Psychologist

My Couple Therapy Assumptions

There are many ways to do couples therapy. David Schnarch, Ph.D. wrote that many people can't tolerate the intensity of an intimate relationship. There is a great deal of truth to this. In many, but not all cases, my approach is to work more intensely with a couple for larger chunks of time--but with larger breaks in between sessions--to allow them to get to core issues more rapidly, and to prevent dependency on the therapist. When couples "save up" their conflicts for their next therapy session, they aren't learning to have a relationship. While I do not use this method in every case--it may not be practical in all cases and situations--I have found couples to move through their issues more rapidly and effectively using this approach.

I begin by going over your Intake Form, taking a history of your relationship, framing up the problems that you want to work on, and mapping them out on the large flip chart in my office. My initial question is "What brings you two in today?" At some point early on, I do a fairly detailed genogram or "map" of each of your original family systems, which will actually speed up our work in the long run and will allow the two of you to begin to identify the unconscious rules that you brought into the relationship in the first place. Come prepared to learn how to identify and express what you are feeling, in the moment, not just what you are thinking.

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