COUPLES COUNSELING

Deciding to work on your relationship together and choosing a therapist takes considerable thought. You might wish to consider your personal situation as you read the following questions and answers. I’ve personalized some of the items to provide a sense of my values, methods and goals in the practice of couples counseling.


When do couples usually seek counseling?

Most couples seek help when one or both partners feel misunderstood, frustrated and/or deeply disappointed. Most likely, symptoms of a breakdown in communication between them have been present for quite some time. Each person may have the sense that s/he is no longer part of an understanding relationship; both partners may feel misunderstood and terribly alone.


How do I make an appointment?

Call me directly at 707-529-513. If you leave a message, please provide a phone number and some good times to reach you. In the event that I do not answer your call directly, I will return your call within 24 hours and often much sooner. You may also contact me by e-mail at DrPeltz@Psycounseling.com


Is Couple’s counseling only for marriage partners?

Although most of the couples that I counsel are married, others come for help before marriage (premarital counseling), or before increasing their commitment, planning to live together, marry or have children. Couples counseling can also be of significant value for second families moving through transition.


What is your policy on confidentiality?

Within certain required legal limits, all of the contents of your therapy sessions will be treated with strict confidentiality and will not be released without your written permission. At your written request, any part of your records or files will be released to any other person, agency or organization you request. If making these records public can be forseeably dangerous or harmful to you, I will inform you prior to sending said records.

LIMITS OF CONFIDENTIALITY: Under the following situations, I am required by law to reveal certain information to other persons or agencies without your permission. I am not required to inform you of these actions. These situations are

  • a) If you threaten grave bodily harm or death to another person, I am required by law to inform the intended victim and appropriate law enforcement agencies;

  • b) In cases of child or elder abuse, or neglect, that is potentially ongoing, I must report it to appropriate agencies.

  • c) If a court of law issues a legitimate subpoena I am required by law to provide the

  • Information specifically described in the subpoena.

  • d) If you are in therapy or being tested by court order, the results of the test must be made available to the court.

Is it O.K. to see a counselor to make a good relationship better?

Absolutely! I take pleasure in working with couples to deepen the meaning and experience of their relationship. Attention to the small things that might eventually blossom into big problems is also wonderful "preventive medicine".

When do couples usually seek counseling?

Most couples seek help when one or both partners feel misunderstood, frustrated and/or deeply disappointed. Most likely, symptoms of a breakdown in communication between them have been present for quite some time. Each person may have the sense that s/he is no longer part of an understanding relationship; both partners may feel misunderstood and terribly alone.

What happens if a couple can’t work things out?

Not all couples successfully resolve their differences. When that is the case a decision must be made 1) to accept differences and live with them, 2) to seek counseling from another provider or 3) to shift from working on the relationship to working toward separation with as little emotional pain as possible. This should be a conscious choice on the part of the couple and never the therapist's choice. When differences cannot be worked out I help couples to identify and consider possible next steps.

When separation is chosen as an option, many couples take with them an understanding of why a relationship didn't work and the ability to respectfully acknowledge individual differences. This may make it much easier to say goodbye and move forward. Personal understanding of what went wrong in the present relationship can also lead to an awareness of what needs to be different in future relationships.

What actually happens during counseling sessions? 

When frustration and disappointment mount in a marriage, couples tend to "lock horns" and sometimes find themselves at opposite poles when they try to work things out. I help individuals to move from polarized positions, to listen to each other and to be able to work together as a team. Counseling can help couples to resolve present issues and to develop skills to use in the future.

In couples counseling, attempting "to win" is a losing strategy. While it is important for each party to be supported in the expression of a full range of feelings, couples counseling is not the place to continue fighting a war. To the extent of my abilities, I provide a safe environment on neutral ground that supports individuals to communicate in ways that promote the resolution of differences. Agreement to fight fairly for the survival and development of the relationship as a team rather than against each other, goes a long way toward meeting individual and couple goals.

The therapist who takes sides cannot support the couple and in fact may be drawn into and made part of their problems. My effectiveness is based on the model of working without prejudice to understand the needs and desires of both parties and to help them develop better ways to meet their own and each other’s needs.

Often, the positive feelings and experiences that couples previously shared have been overshadowed by the trouble between them. If partners can remember a time when life together felt good, the chances for working out their differences are much better than for those who remember only dissatisfaction or conflict from the beginning of their relationship. I help couples to remember and build upon the strengths in their relationship. It really helps to have a base from which to work out differences.

In my experience, most therapists don't speak about the hidden function, or purpose that an ongoing or recurrent problem may serve. The problem that can never be solved and never goes away just might take center stage when closeness threatens to lead to emotional suffocation. Making up or dropping the issue might be likely to occur when couples feel too far apart. I work with couples to identify and understand how "the problem" regulates emotional distance (or closeness) between them and to find more effective ways to meet their needs.

Sometimes couples get caught in an endless loop. The more one party attempts to explain a position or feelings, the worse things seem to get. Improvement in communication can often help to resolve problems between individuals. To accomplish this goal I help couples to understand 1) what is being said and 2) how what is being said, is actually being heard by the other party. I then help couples to work on reaching agreement on the content and meaning of statements to each other by clarifying differences in their interpretation. Once full understanding is achieved, couples can then move forward toward resolution of issues.

Unconscious expectations of how husbands and wives are "supposed to behave and images of what constitutes a "good relationship" are often at work in relationships. When these expectations are unmet, they're often sources of great disappointment and frustration. The assumption that one's mate will automatically fulfill one's unspoken expectations is both common and dangerous. I help couples to explore the roles and expectations that existed in their original family history and to recognize how these factors may be at work in their current relationship. Expectations can then be openly examined and re-evaluated.