Frequently Asked Questions for Couples Therapy
What are some reasons to start couples therapy?
When you’re about to start a big change. This can be as small as moving houses/apartments to as big as expecting a child. Even if there’s no stress prior to the big change, having a safe space in therapy can be helpful to lay out better communication, improve conflict resolution skills, find ways to support each other, and express your hopes and fears. I also offer pre-marital therapy for couples who want to create a solid foundation in their relationship prior to marriage.
When you start to blame things your partner does on their personality or whole character rather than keeping in mind other factors such as stress from work, issues with their family, etc. So if the dishes aren’t done (again) and you find yourself thinking “well it’s because they’re entitled and lazy” rather than “they’re really stressed about their Father’s health” it can mean that you’re starting to have some distance from your partner and you may be building resentments towards them. Couples Therapy can help those resentments come to the surface to bring you closer together.
When you feel like you can’t tell your partner what’s bothering you. Some clients come in because they’ve noticed something about their dynamic that’s really bothering them but they fear that if they bring it up that it’ll start another huge fight. Coming to Couples Therapy can be incredibly helpful to learn better communication skills to have those difficult conversations with your partner without it leading an enormous argument.
When you’re about to open your relationship. Non-Monogamy and Polyamory has been more openly discussed lately which can give permission to some couples to explore this option. Entering into non-monogamy can be exciting and nerve-wracking all at the same time. In couples therapy we can explore what non-monogamy entails for you, examine your hopes and fears, and have a safe space to discuss boundaries, all while improving communication and conflict resolution.
Are you inclusive of all genders, sexual identities, abilities, class-structure, relationship-structure, race and ethnicities?
All of the yes’s. I strive to offer excellent therapy that applies to fellow residents of Oakland and the East Bay. I hold a strong sociopolitical and sociocultural lens in my work with individuals, couples, and polycules. I work particularly well with clients from diverse backgrounds and identities, and hold a poly/kink affirming, as well as trans and gender-nonconforming affirming approach in my work.
Do you offer sex therapy in couples therapy?
Absolutely. Sex therapy and couples therapy go hand-in-hand. I work well with couples who are experiencing differing sex drives, differing sexual interests, reconnecting intimacy and affection, incorporating kink and poly-practices into their relationship, and managing performance anxiety. Check out my Sex Therapy page for more information.
Our arguments aren’t THAT bad, why should we start now?
Well, you’re on this website for a reason, right? So you’re at least considering the option of couples therapy. Couples Therapy works especially well as a preventive measure. Just like any other aspect of our lives, mental and relational health is best preserved when you use tools and skills to prevent crises.
Couples Therapy as a preventive tool improves upon the strengths you and your partner(s) already have, and dives deep into building better communication, conflict resolution skills, and improving intimacy. While this doesn’t guarantee total prevention of a crisis, it can give you the skills to weather relational storms in the future.
So you’re saying if we are in crisis that means we’re a lost cause?
Nope. I see far more couples come in with a crisis than for a tune-up. Coming in with a crisis can give us an opportunity to work on building relational skills and understanding each other better through some of your hardest times in your relationship. This will allow us to hone in on what the issues are and build up from there.
What are the first few sessions like?
I start with a 15-20 minute phone consultation with all partners prior to meeting in person to assess if I will be a good fit for you based on presenting issues, availability and fee. I will then meet with you and your partner(s) for an initial assessment, followed by individual sessions with each of you for an in-depth assessment. Our next session will be with you and your partner(s) to go over an initial assessment review followed by a tentative plan for our work together. This plan will be adjusted as I get to know you and your relationship over the following few sessions.
How often do we meet?
In my experience with couples I have found that beginning with once a week sets a solid tone for building trust and rapport between the couple/triad and therapist. This allows us to dive in to what the major issues are followed by developing a plan of how to improve upon your strengths. We can then explore moving to every other week for maintenance work.
Some couples find it helpful to start with a 3-hour intensive couples session to front load the assessment and skills building, then moving to weekly or every other week session. We would find a time and day that works well for everyone’s schedules.
How long is the process?
The process varies depending on how often we meet (weekly vs every other week) and presenting issues. Typically couples stay for 3-6 months, however in cases which require more attention it can be up to a year or more. I work relationally, so if you and your partner(s) are not feeling comfortable with me or my style for whatever reason, or are not seeing results after 3 months I can offer referrals for other couples therapists.
How much is it?
Couples/Triad sessions are $195 for 50 minute sessions, $250 for 90 minutes or $500 for a 3-hour intensive. I may be able to slide down due to financial needs. Contact me to discuss fees further.
What is your cancellation policy?
I require 48 hours notice for cancellation. If you are to cancel after 48 hours, or no show, you will be responsible for paying the full amount for the session.
Are you telling everyone about us?
Nope! Confidentiality is key to our work. Not only am I legally bound to hold our work confidential, I am also ethically held to standards of confidentiality. I hold our work sacred and do not want to diminish the treatment that you and your partner(s) deserve. The only caveat is when I am legally required to break confidentiality, which involves cases of:
Known or reasonably suspected abuse to children under the age of 18
Known or reasonably suspected immediate threat of violence upon yourself another person
Known or reasonably suspected abuse to an elder over the age of 65, or a dependent adult
Where are we meeting?
My office address is 4001 Howe St, #1, Oakland, CA. The office is close to MacArthur BART, and there is street parking on Howe and side streets.
Do you offer online counseling?
Yes! I offer couples therapy through online video conferencing using a secure HIPAA-Compliant program called VSee, which is free to use. Once we get started I will help you setup your account and we will choose a time and day to meet.
What’s our next step?
You can arrange for a free 20 minute phone consultation to answer any questions you may have by emailing me via my form on my Contact Page.