Are you feeling disconnected from your partner?
Is your communication ineffective, vague, or generally poor?
Do you frequently argue, bicker, or have disagreements?
Are both partners willing to attend therapy?
Couples or marital therapy is intended to support people in relationship who may be considering separation or seeking improved intimacy and understanding. In couples therapy, the relationship is the focus, although each partner can expect to focus on self-improvement and self-awareness. Couples can sometimes be hesitant to pursue couples therapy due to thinking that the therapist will side with one partner over the other. Dr. Leavell does not believe there is ever one person to “blame” in relationship problems. Issues in relationships are often the result of an interaction between unmet needs and miscommunication. Early in couples therapy, Dr. Leavell will explore the couple’s presenting concerns and facilitate each partner in understanding the roles they have played in contributing to the issue before moving forward. Although balance in each session is the goal, there will be time when one partner’s responsibility is emphasized more in a session, and then the focus will shift to the other partner in the next session. The openness and honesty required by both the couple and the therapist in couples therapy is paramount for effective therapy and opening the lines of communication within the partnership.
Dr. Leavell clearly reviews in the beginning of couple’s therapy that her role is not to “keep couples together,” but to work toward the agreed-upon goals such as improve communication, create rules for fair-fighting, or improve emotional intimacy. In most cases, work toward the couple’s goals improves the relationship for both partners and therapy ends with the couple experiencing a happier and healthier connection. It is possible that during the course of working through the presenting concerns that a couple decides to pursue separation. Research suggest that on average, partners will not seek therapy until they have been unhappy for six years. The more time that has passed, the more difficult it may be to repair the relationship. In some cases, a couple who has already decided to separate may pursue therapy in order to end the relationship amicably and respectfully. Dr. Leavell’s role is to help the couple make the most healthy decision for both partners and any children or dependents that this decision may impact.