Couples Therapy & Marriage Counseling | Columbia, Mo
But first, a caveat…
This is a hard page to write.
More specifically, what we mean by that is that we wish there wasn’t a need for this page - that our goal for folks who are lgbt+ is to be able to assume that a counselor is affirming and accepting and that there is no issue based on sexuality. That’s it, really. Our goal is that the experience of being lgbt+ is commonplace and celebrated and welcomed, rather than treated with disdain or somehow lesser than.
The above might seem obvious, but it still feels important to share.
And now, the research…
For the record, the Gottman Method is the couples therapy and marriage counseling approach that our team primarily uses. Not only is it highly effective at helping people work through conflict and reconnect on a deep level, but the research has also included sexual minority partners (huzzah!!). This might not seem like a big deal, but it’s a pretty freaking awesome thing.
Here are some random things that we know is that same-gender couples.
They tend to make improvements in half the time as heterosexual couples. Basically, if a heterosexual pair takes about 14 sessions to make significant improvements in their relationship, their gay couple friends take about half that time, totaling around 8 sessions. Please note, though, that the numbers in this example are arbitrary and the number of sessions it’ll take you and your partner will vary based on you.
Same-gender couples tend to take things from their partner less personally. What this means is that a conflict can be just that - conflict. It can exist without the ‘other’ person being bad, innately wrong, or shamed. This is great for healing from past hurts and recent conflicts, and also great for your friendship.
Same-gender couples are kinder when they bring up hard topics. Given that relationship dissolution can be predicted within three minutes of an interaction (yes, seriously - and with 96% accuracy), it should come as no surprise that the way a conversation starts is critical, and if the tendency for sexual minority pairs is to be kinder, then this means there’s a better chance the conversation will go well (and also a better chance at healing long-term).
Same-gender couples seem to have a better capacity for soothing one another during conflict. Also awesome. This basically means that physiology isn’t super aroused during key moments (i.e. conflict, pre-hard topic conversation, post-conflict), and that the implication is that maybe same-gender partners are better at being soothing with one another.
Long story short is that same-gender couples have some distinct advantages when it comes to being in a committed relationship.
LGBT+ Couples Therapy and Marriage Counseling
Ya know, we call it couples therapy and marriage counseling, but it’s really just relationship counseling. And here’s what it entails.
First and foremost, a thorough assessment. It’s crucial that your therapist gets a very clear sense of what’s going on in your relationship. Most people come in and think, “The problem is communicating/money/sex/in-laws, so fix that!” The reality is that there are way more things going on in your dynamic than what you’re aware of right now. We don’t mean that in a righteous way - we mean that in a this-is-what-we’re-trained-to-assess-for way. Basically, there are things that predict your relationship health and success. We want to know, as much as possible, what things are in place and what things are lacking.
Feedback and treatment planning. This sounds super formal, but it’s not. Your therapist will go over what they’ve found regarding the strengths and areas for growth in your relationship, and then you’ll all discuss the amount of time counseling should/could take and the frequency of sessions. Easy as pie.
Topics for sessions. Here’s the long and short of it - whatever you decide to talk about needs to be emotionally relevant for you. Boom. That’s literally it. It can be a fight from the past week, it can be an affair, it can be how you feel totally disconnected and that you “never communicate.” The only thing that we care about is that it’s important to you. Yes, seriously. If your therapist chose a topic for you to talk about that didn’t feel important, then it wouldn’t gain any traction and you would probably leave saying, “That felt like a waste of time.” <-Not at all what we want, and we’re sure that’s not what you want.
Dyadic interaction. Maybe this one seems obvious (sorta doubt it, but it’s possible), but couples therapy should be between the people on the couch, an not through a third-party mediator. Here’s what we mean. The counselor role in couples therapy is to help teach partners how to engage in meaningful dialogue, to help facilitate deeper, meaningful conversations, to help process through conflict, and to help unpack resistance to the process of therapy. This role does not include interpreting everything one partner says and relaying that message to their partner. Why not, you ask? Because what help would that be for you (long-term)? None help, that’s what! We opt, instead, to teach you to fish so that you can feed yourself for a lifetime. A lifetime of love (#CheesyButTrue).
How will I know it’s effective?
The reality is that you probably can’t know until you do it. Wait a second - the second reality is that we know that the Gottman approach is effective (otherwise we wouldn’t spend so much of our time reading and writing about it - ha!), but what we don’t know is how much effort you and your partner want to put into the relationship, how committed you are, whether there’s an ongoing affair, or if one of you is planning on leaving. When we have two committed people who are interested and invested in making it work, then the likelihood of it working is much higher. So, the tl/dr version of this answer is that this approach is effective, but the work is up to you.
Fine, you’ve got me hooked. I’m interested. Now what?
Now, my friend, you just reach out to us to get started with sessions! Super easy. Just click the button below to submit your contact information, we’ll answer any lingering questions you might have, and then we’ll get you set up for sessions. Couples therapy is one of our passions, and we’re happy to be here for you!