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John C. Friel, Ph.D. Licensed Psychologist

1.  I prefer to work in larger blocks of time with bigger spaces in between sessions. Whether a couple is "stuck" in something or not, I find that it is often more cost-effective and works better in the long run to do it this way, even though it is a bigger investment of time and money up front. And while you might think 4 hours is a long time for a session, the most common reaction from clients is, "The 4 hours is already up?! I can't believe that much time has passed."

2.  I like people a lot. When clients or audience members ask me how I can sit and listen to people's problems all day long, I reply by saying, "If that's what I did all day, I would have quit long ago." It is fascinating for both my clients, and me, to unravel the family system patterns that are keeping them stuck, and then to help them unravel and then learn new patterns in the here-and-now that will help them get un-stuck. There isn't a boring moment to be had.

3.  With that said, the only way to help a couple move out of wherever it is they are stuck is for me to stay outside of the relationship, and so I cannot have an investment in whether or not you improve your sex life, solve your financial problems, or even if you  stay together. But, I am invested in whether or not you are aware of where these patterns came from and when you are acting with emotional integrity. If you want to learn how to handle situations with more integrity, I am there with you 100% to help you learn what that behavior looks like. The paradox here is that while I care deeply for my clients, it is 100% up to them  whether they "make it" or not, which, as you may already be able to see, means that over the past decade, many more of the couples with whom I work eventually do make it.

4.  As mentioned above, a good chunk of the work I do throughout the sessions is in helping each person acquire responses that have more integrity. If you get "quiet and nice" when you are angry, you are actually punishing the people around you in the service of looking like the nice guy all the time, which isn't very nice. You may decide that you want to learn to do something more constructive with your anger, in which case I am very willing to help. If you scare people with your anger--if you rage, criticize, bristle, snap, and use sarcasm--then you may eventually desire to learn how to soothe the fear, hurt , shame, or loneliness that are there beneath all anger. In that case, I am more than willing to help.

5. I do not give homework assignments, because they keep the couple dependent on me rather than working through their issues, and it often deflects the "heat" that is generated in the session. It is the heat that creates the passion that creates the intimacy--but only if you know how to handle it with integrity. I try to get each person in a partnership to confront herself or himself, rather than spending a lot of time confronting each other. After all, you don't need to spend money to have someone listen to you complain about your partner.

6. Each "block" of time stands alone. You may do a 4-hour session and then do no more after that. Also, it is rare that we will go more than 12 hours with these larger blocks of time, because in most cases, it simply isn't necessary.

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