©2019 by Vickie Bhatia, Ph.D.

couple therapy

Are you and your partner having difficulty communicating or getting into frequent arguments?

Are you having trouble connecting on an emotional or intimate level?

Has there been a significant relationship betrayal?

Are you moving in or getting married and want to discuss the transition and its impact on your relationship?

 

All of these, and more, can be the focus of couple therapy. There’s a misconception that you must be extremely unhappy or dissatisfied with the relationship to come to couple therapy. Not true! In fact, addressing concern early helps prevent them from becoming major problems.

I am certified in Integrative Behavioral Couple Therapy (IBCT), a treatment developed by Drs. Andrew Christensen and Neil Jacobson, and my primary modality. I was trained by Dr. Christensen in 2018. IBCT teaches couples how to make changes in their relationship while also increasing the level of emotional acceptance of one another. IBCT has extensive research demonstrating its effectiveness. Overall, about 2/3 of couples choose to stay together after completing IBCT and show significant increases in relationship satisfaction.

 

IBCT consists of two phases, an evaluation/feedback phase (generally 4 sessions) and an active treatment phase (generally 12-24 sessions). Generally, sessions are weekly during the assessment phase and at the beginning of treatment and are often spaced more widely (every other week or monthly) towards the end of treatment. Overall, a typical course of couples therapy lasts between 6-12 months.

During the evaluation phase, I will meet with the couple for an initial session to discover what brings you to therapy and to obtain a brief history of your relationship. I then have two sessions where I meet with each partner individually to learn more about their individual life history and explore their relationship concerns. The final session of the assessment phase is where I provide feedback on the strengths of the couple and the difficulties the couple is experiencing. I also present a conceptualization of why the couple is experiencing the problems we discussed and how therapy can help.

 

If the couple decides to move forward to the treatment phase, the focus of sessions is often on important recent events (positive or negative) with a focus on the couple’s cycle. We will discuss more about what treatment will look like in the feedback session.

Areas of Expertise

  • Communication Difficulties

    • Frequent arguments when trying to discuss a topic

    • Conflict avoidance and shutting down

    • Difficulty talking about specific topics (e.g., parenting, finances)

  • Relationship Betrayals

    • Emotional and/or sexual affairs

    • Discovery of a major secret

  • Premarital Counseling

    • Identifying and strengthening communication style

    • Examining values and goals as a couple

  • Life Transitions as a Couple

    • Transitioning to parenthood or “empty nester” status

    • Transitioning to retirement or other significant lifestyle shifts

    • Deciding to divorce and going through that process in a respectful manner

    • Coping with an illness or chronic health condition