• Joseanne Spiteri

8 Commonly asked Questions about Couples Therapy

Updated: Sep 13

For many people, making the decision to see a couples therapist comes after a lot of thought and deliberation. This isn't an easy decision. My hope in writing this blog is to give you some insight into what it would be like to work with me in couples therapy.


My last couples therapist just watched us argue. How will you be different?


Couples Therapy is challenging. I won’t lie. Couples sessions can include scenes of quick escalation between partners, typically uncommon in individual therapy sessions. It can be easy for me to take a laid back and listen approach but couples will usually just repeat the communication patterns that play out in their home. The first time this happens; I will observe how you interact with one another for 2-3 minutes and then I will politely ask you both to pause. I will interrupt you-a lot, if needed. I will ask you to slow down. I will ask you to take note of what is happening at this moment. I will manage the session so that you will have a different experience from what you’re used to. I provide structure, so that you can both feel heard and understood.


What happens in the sessions?


For the first 3 session, I will be learning about each of you, your personal and relationship history, and develop goals for therapy. I am directive in my approach with clients and typically lead the sessions. As an Emotionally Focused Therapist, I have a framework that I use that provides a map for each session. We will focus more on how you communicate versus what you are communicating about. I will ask you to speak to your partner in sessions, so that you can practice communicating healthily. I may provide you with some homework between sessions (watching videos or reading articles).


How many sessions will we need?


Every couple comes to therapy with different needs and the number of sessions required may vary. However, most couples find that 12-20 sessions are enough to teach them about their unhealthy patterns and explore the more vulnerable emotions that are not usually expressed.


How often should we see you?


Appointments are usually booked weekly or biweekly for the first 2 to 3 months to keep momentum going. Once the couple is deescalated, we can space sessions further apart. Some couples cannot accommodate weekly or biweekly at the start, due to financial restraints or busy schedules. We can make this work-this is your therapy so you can choose what works for you.


Are there clients you do not work with?


Sometimes, I must inform clients that couples therapy is not suitable at this time. For example, I will not be able to proceed with couples therapy if there is a lack of safety or if

there are threats of or fear of serious violence, on the part of one or both partners. If there is an active untreated substance abuse/alcohol addiction, I will ask that you seek treatment. Couples therapy can resume once treatment has begun. Further, I will need to refer for more specialized and complex care if there is an untreated mental illness such as bipolar or psychotic disorders. In these cases, I will offer referral sources for specialist treatment.


Are your services covered by insurance? Do you do direct billing?


We do not offer direct billing. You will need to check with your insurance company to determine details of your coverage before the first session. We can provide you with a receipt for Psychotherapy or Psychology, that you can submit to your insurance provider for reimbursement.


I don’t have benefits, and can’t afford to pay out of pocket.


Therapy can be expensive, and not everyone has insurance coverage. Fortunately, we provide more affordable counselling through our Clinical Interns. We also have sliding scale options for clients with financial hardship.


Why did I choose to be a couples therapist?


Because, like you, I once needed relationship support. It so profoundly improved the level of connection I felt with my partner. It feels so rewarding when I can help others get to this place too.


These are just some of the questions I am asked. If you have any other questions or want to talk more about how couples therapy can help you, please contact me at 416 949 9878 or email at joseanne@georgetowncouplestherapy.com. I'd be happy to help.