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Couples Therapy

Over the past 25 years at the Couples Clinic, we have pioneered a new approach for helping people develop more satisfying relationships. Our approach, the Pragmatic-Experiential Method for Improving Relationships (a.k.a., “the PEX Method“), translates new discoveries in the fields of neurobiology and relationship science into practical strategies for improving relationships. Detailed in the books, Emotional Intelligence in Couple Therapy, and Developing Habits for Relationship Success, our approach is used by therapists throughout the world.

You can read several stories about how we have helped couples improve their relationships:

At the Couples Clinic, you can expect your that your therapist will…

  • understand and care about the things that are most important to you.
  • expertly guide you (and/or your partner) through the stages needed for healing and change to occur.
  • provide clear leadership and direction during therapy sessions and give step-by-step guidance about how to do things differently.
  • operate on the basis of established scientific evidence about relationships, rather than personal opinion.
  • challenge you and/or your partner when needed in a direct, yet non-threatening, supportive way.

What is the PEX Method?

The Pragmatic/Experiential Method for Improving Relationships (a.k.a., “the PEX Method“) helps partners build and use the skills of emotional intelligence to resolve impasses, avoid frustrating interactions, and create truly enjoyable relationships.

A series of landmark studies in the past three decades have identified exactly what people who succeed in their intimate relationships do differently than those who fail.  Researchers discovered a core set of emotional habits that are so powerfully positive that, when people have them, they end up having satisfying long-term relationships over 90% of the time.  The PEX Method will help you and your partner more fully develop these emotional habits that are so highly predictive of relationship success.

The attitudes and behaviors necessary to succeed in relationships are easy to understand and learn, but can be very difficult to do, because, at key moments, you may find yourself in a state of mind that isn’t compatible with the needed behavior or attitude.  In order to change your thinking or behaviors, you must develop the ability to get into the right frame of mind for the task.  Marriage researchers have discovered that, when a marriage is distressed, each partner generally reacts to the other during arguments in highly predictable and patterned ways.  Thanks to some very helpful brain research in the past 25 years, we now know that this is because, across our lives, our brains get conditioned to produce highly specific response programs.  These are conditioned brain circuits that are pre-programmed so that, once triggered, they unfold as if they had a mind of their own, producing a predictable pattern of thoughts, feelings and behaviors.  Brain researchers call these brain states “executive operating systems” or “intrinsic motivational circuits.” Ordinary people call them “states of mind” or “moods.”   The important thing is not what they are called, but to recognize that these internal response programs can dramatically dictate how you interact with your partner. To improve your relationship, you will need to become familiar with the specific mood state patterns that happen inside of you during key intimate situations.  Your best shot at acting differently comes when you develop the ability to shift internal states when needed.  Your therapist will help you and your partner increase your abilities to shift out of mood states that often propel you into non-productive fighting.

Couples therapy at the Couples Clinic usually begins with an assessment process that spans three sessions.  Typically, the therapist meets with both spouses together in the first assessment interview, then schedules separate appointments with each partner. Partners are also asked to complete some well-researched and established relationship assessment instruments that they can take home and fill out.  In the assessment sessions, your therapist will be looking for the presence or absence of the habits that are highly predictive of relationship success and failure.  Then, s/he will lay out a plan for how to break outmoded habits and strengthen needed ones.  Counseling sessions will be supplemented by dozens of between-session exercises designed to rewire your brains for more flexibility (These exercises are detailed, step-by-step, in our book for couples, Developing Habits for Relationship Success). 

The length of therapy varies according to each couple’s needs.  However, effective couples therapy generally involves weekly sessions for a minimum of three months. At three months, couples are encouraged to re-evaluate to see if further therapy is needed.

If you want to see changes happen really quickly and you can set aside time in your schedule to accelerate the counseling process, you might want to consider intensive couples counseling where you meet with a therapist 4-5 hours per day.  If you live some distance from the clinic, you might want to consider video-conference sessions so that you can avoid travel time back and forth to the clinic.  Feel free to discuss the pros and cons of different formats with your therapist before beginning therapy.

Fees Covered by Health Insurance

Many clients find that their health insurance covers a portion of their fees for therapy at the Couples Clinic.  Couples Clinic Therapists have contracts with a variety of insurance companies and PPO’s, such as Blue Cross Blue Shield, United Behavioral Health, United Health Care, Value Options, PHCS and others.  Policies vary in their coverage, but most people find that their insurance companies pay all costs except for deductibles, and coinsurance/co-payments.  If you have questions about how to investigate what your insurance will cover, call our office manager Lori at 630-232-7457, extension 115.