Couples Counseling

Michael Galbraith, LCPC

I love working with couples.  And I don’t give up on relationships.  Sometimes that means serving as a cheerleader for the healthy potential I see in an unhappy relationship, even when the partners have little or no hope.

I am trained in Emotional Focused Therapy (EFT) for couples and use this method with most couples. Using EFT has transformed the way I work with couples and, in some ways, how I work with individuals as well.  

What is EFT?

Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) is a well-known humanistic approach to psychotherapy formulated in the 1980’s and developed in tandem with the science of adult attachment, a profound developmental theory of personality and intimate relationships.  Attachment views human beings as innately relational, social and wired for intimate bonding with others.  The EFT model prioritizes emotion and emotional regulation as the key organizing agents in individual experience and key relationship interactions.

EFT for Couples

EFT is a short term (8 to 20 sessions) structured approach, originally developed for couple therapy and based on attachment science, formulated in the 1980’s. Interventions in EFCT integrate a humanistic, experiential approach to restructuring emotional experience and a systemic structural approach to restructuring interactions. A substantial body of research now exists on the effectiveness of EFT. 

Goals of EFT for Couples

  • To expand and re-organize key emotional responses and, in the process, the organization of self.
  • To create a positive shift in partners’ interactional positions and patterns.
  • To foster the creation of a secure bond between partners.

Recommended reading to prepare for couples counseling with an EFT-trained therapist:

Here are some of the ways I’ve successfully helped couples and might also serve you:

  • Learn to communicate in ways that are clear and clean, are likely to be received well by your partner, and help you get more of what you want.
  • Provide tools to help you remain emotionally connected even during the busiest seasons of life.
  • Recover from infidelity and other types of betrayal.
  • Navigate and recover from the damage done by addiction.
  • Redefine satisfying physical intimacy in mid-life and beyond.
  • Establish healthy boundaries with children, parents and in-laws.
  • Achieve clarity about direction when one partner is “leaning in” and one is “leaning out” of the marriage.  

Discernment Counseling

As a certified Discernment Counselor, I help “mixed agenda” couples to find clarity about the direction of their marriage.  By “mixed agenda”, I mean couples in which one partner is “leaning out” of the marriage, feeling little hope for improvement in the relationship and may even be considering divorce. The other spouse may be committed to the relationship but does not have a partner who is actively working with them to make things better.

Such couples don’t generally make it into couples counseling because the “leaning out” spouse can’t envision things getting better and has little motivation for the intimacy-building work of traditional couples therapy.  It can feel frustrating, hopeless and difficult to navigate.

So, what is Discernment Counseling?  It’s a process designed to bring clarity about the path forward toward one of three options:

  1. Leave things the way they are  — sometimes a valid choice due to circumstances
  2. End the marriage, or 
  3. Commit to 6 months of wholehearted, professional marriage counseling with the idea of divorce taken “off the table” during that time.

How is Discernment Counseling different from couples counseling?  

It’s not about solving relationship problems.

It’s different in that the purpose is not to solve problems but rather to help bring clarity about the path forward.  It takes the “pressure” off the idea of solving complex problems and even the idea of building intimacy when motivation for that may be nonexistent, at least on one spouse’s part.

It is time-limited, generally lasting no more than 5 sessions.  

Within 5 sessions, Discernment Counseling is designed to help a couple determine, with clarity and more confidence, whether they want to enter into couples counseling, leave things as they are for now, or end the marriage.  

I will do a mini-assessment by phone.

If you and your spouse have reached a “stuck place” with one of you “leaning in” and the other “leaning out”, consider the Discernment Counseling process.  To get started, I will have a 15 minute discussion by phone with each of you to hear what’s happening in your marriage and determine if Discernment Counseling is the best fit for you.

Call my office to inquire about fees for Discernment Counseling at 312-925-3620