What is Marriage and Family Therapy?

Marriage and Family therapy is a form of therapy conducted by licensed mental health professionals called marriage and family therapists (MFT's).  They work with single or married individuals, committed couples, families of all types and groups to explore emotional and relational concerns.  Marriage and family therapy is highly effective because of the "systemic" orientation that its therapists bring to treatment.  Meaning, marriage and family therapists focus on understanding their clients' symptoms and interaction patterns within a "system" or in the context of his or her current and/or prior relationships.

Do I have to be married or have a family to go to a marriage and family therapist?

No.  Individuals often seek marriage and family therapy for help with behavioral problems, relational issues or mental health and emotional disorders.  MFT's provide the same services as other mental health professionals but with a different orientation.

How do I prepare for my first session?  What will subsequent sessions be like?

The first session or two will be getting to know each other.  It will be most helpful if you arrive with the intention of being as open and honest as you can be.  We will most likely discuss what brings you into therapy, your job, significant relationships, hobbies and other aspects of your life that are important to you.  As I am getting to know you, it is likely that you will have some questions about my training and approach to therapy.  I am always happy to answer questions about my professional background and the counseling process.  We will also discuss what you would like help with and talk about your mental health history and previous treatment, if applicable.  

The structure of ongoing sessions will depend on the type of therapy - individual or couple and the goals we develop.  They will generally consist of checking-in about what has transpired since our last session, reviewing any homework, practicing skills or discussing roadblocks, discussing upcoming homework and reviewing progress.

How often we meet will be decided together and dependent on the issues that have brought you into therapy.  In general, it is helpful to meet weekly and as we gain traction, stretch our sessions out to every other week or longer.  Of course, scheduling, commitments and financial considerations will also be a part of the conversation.

Do I bring anything with me to my sessions?

If you are seeking couple or relational therapy, you will need to bring all individuals participating in counseling.  All clients will need to bring their preferred method of payment to each session.  For your initial session, it is helpful if you read, complete and submit paperwork that is set to you online.   Finally, if you have documents from previous mental health treatment that you feel would be helpful to share and discuss, feel free to bring them to our appointment.

What I have to talk about is very personal. How do I know that our conversation will stay private?

As a licensed therapist, I am legally and ethically bound to keep our conversations and all of your personal information confidential.  There are exceptions to confidentiality that are outlined in my disclosure statement and will be addressed at our first meeting and throughout therapy, as needed.

What if I don't want to answer a question or I feel uncomfortable?

One of your rights as a client is the right to refuse to answer a question.  You may also decline to participate in homework assignment or any part of treatment, if you feel uncomfortable. I strongly believe that therapy is a collaborative process and I welcome feedback.  it will be helpful to discuss areas of therapy that may be difficult, uncomfortable or unhelpful.

What is counseling homework?  Will there be tests?

Counseling homework is anything that I suggest you do between our sessions.  Homework could be anything from taking daily walks to writing down your thoughts and feelings to practicing a new relational and parenting skill to reading a book or handouts.  Like all parts of treatment, it is optional but tends to greatly enhance your treatment.  No tests, but we may check-in and talk about how your experienced these activities or had difficulty trying them.

How long does therapy last?  When does it end?

Good question!  The length of treatment will be different for every individual and couple based on their identified needs and goals.  Counseling ends for a variety of reasons.  Ideally, treatment ends when you have met your goals and feel significantly different about the issues that brought you into counseling.  You may notice a new energy, interest and enthusiasm about aspects of your life and confidence to tackle new challenges.  However, you are not bound to attend therapy sessions and have the right to end counseling whenever you wish.

What is sex therapy?

Sex therapy helps you to learn how to increase intimacy and create a sex life that you desire.  In sex therapy, I focus on helping my clients verbalize the difficulties they are having and work towards a sex life that feels more authentic, exciting, pleasurable and fulfilling.

Won't it be embarrassing to talk about my sex life?

Conversations about sex and intimacy can be uncomfortable at first.  I understand and anticipate some discomfort and strive to create an atmosphere that is safe, nonjudgmental and relaxing.  I am passionate about this subject and endeavor for everyone to enjoy a great sex life!  We are all created to love and be loved.  I hope that my enthusiasm will help to decrease your anxiety.

What can I expect from our sex therapy sessions?

Sex therapy is based on talk therapy.  Although all of the therapy in my office is talk therapy, I may suggest exercises or techniques to practice outside of therapy, either alone or with your partner. As always, it is your right to decline to participate in homework assignments or any part of treatment if you feel uncomfortable.

Is there touch involved in sex therapy?

Nope. None. There is no physical touch, nudity and no sexual contact of any sort.  We sit in a room and talk, keeping it professional.