Can counseling really help our relationship?
Counseling works for some and not for others, why is this?
Counseling is not a magical process that make your problems go away.
Counseling gives you new tools and new approaches, but it is up to the couple on how they will use these tools. Just like anything else, it takes practice to master a skill. The couples that put the time and effort into learning and practicing, will be rewarded with better results.
Counseling can help mediate ongoing conflicts, clarify misunderstandings, effectively and fairly address deep rooted disagreements, improve communication, increase sense of intimacy, and improve relationship satisfaction.
Successful relationship counseling does more than just minimize arguments and force the couple to compromise, because a fulfilling relationship is more than just scraping by and tolerating the other person. The higher goal of counseling is to help the couple create a relationship where both individuals can find support, security, intimacy, and happiness.
What is counseling like?
At the beginning of counseling, I ask the couple about their history and the current problems they face, to get an understanding of the current relationship and define the specific problem areas. Then we will talk about your goals and expectations for counseling, to define the specific results you want to see.
Typically, counseling sessions are scheduled to be once a week, with each session lasting around fifty minutes. Though it is common that couples request extended sessions of 80 minutes when they feel they need more time to address everything.
The course of counseling can be short-term, focusing on a specific issue and will not drag on after that specific issue is resolved. The duration really depends on the goals and expectation of the couple–some deeper rooted, complex problems would require more time to fully address.
For counseling to be effective and more than “just talk”, I assign “homework” for the couple to do during the time between our sessions. This can range from reading parts of a book, to practicing a specific skill, or to keep a track of the frequency of a thought or behavior (e.g. how often do heated fights happen, how long did conversations last).
What you can expect from counseling:
- Effective and proven techniques along with practical guidance
- Compassion, respect and understanding
- Perspectives to illuminate persistent patterns and negative feelings
- Real strategies for enacting positive change
Do you accept insurance? How does insurance work?
Currently I am in network for Blue Shield. I can also work with the Victims of Crime program that pays for the counseling for a victim of a crime. For people that have a PPO, they should be able to reimburse the cost for my services and we would talk about how we would do that.
To determine if your insurance covers counseling, the first thing you should do is check with your insurance carrier. Check your coverage carefully and find the answers to the following questions:
- Is my health plan a PPO or HMO? The only HMO that Elvina can take is Blue Shield, otherwise, she can also work with PPO plans
- What are my mental health/behavioral health benefits? Does it include relationship counseling?
- What is the coverage amount per therapy session?
- How many therapy sessions does my plan cover?
- How much does my insurance pay for an out-of-network provider?
- Is approval required from my primary care physician?
Is counseling confidential? What are my privacy rights?
In general, the law protects the confidentiality of all communications between clients and the therapist. No information is disclosed without prior written permission from the client.
However, there are some exceptions required by law to this rule. Exceptions include:
- Suspected child abuse or dependant adult or elder abuse. The therapist is required to report this to the appropriate authorities immediately.
- If a client is threatening serious bodily harm to another person, the therapist is required to notify the police.
- If a client intends to harm himself or herself, the therapist will make every effort to work with the individual to ensure their safety. However, if an individual does not cooperate, additional measures such as calling an ambulance may need to be taken.
Elvina Lui, M.A., MFT
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist MFC#51046
2603 Camino Ramon Suite 409
San Ramon, CA 94583
“Professional, Evidence Based Relationship Counseling Helping Couples Regain Intimacy and Satisfaction”