A Specialist for Couple and Relationships Issuesmore
Do you know in North Carolina any counselor is permitted to offer marriage or couple’s counseling – without any additional or specialized training? So, it’s quite common for counselors to add ‘marriage and relationship counseling’ to their services.
But, marriage or relationship counseling is a different animal from individual counseling… and being an effective individual counselor doesn’t automatically transfer to being an effective couple’s counselor.
Asheville Marriage Counseling Works Exclusively with Couples and Relationship concerns.
Using a relationship counseling specialist is like seeing your family doctor compared to a joint specialist. Your GP can diagnosis a wide variety of illnesses and treat many. But, dealing with so many different concerns they’ll know the basics in many areas, but they’re not an expert in most areas. So, they refer out when expert treatment is required.
For counselors those lines aren’t quite so clear.
While all counselors have an ethical responsibility to only offer counseling in the areas they are competent, many counselors offer marriage / relationship counseling without any specialized training. I believe it’s usually done sincerely; but with some counselors being unaware how much more effective couple counseling can be with a therapist who works exclusively with relationship issues.
Like the specialists in medical treatment, seeing clients only for marriage and relationship issues lets me dedicate all my attention, continuing education, and professional reading to improving my skills in this one area.
40 Years of Counseling Experiencemore
I began my career as a counselor when I was a young pup of 22 – waaaay back in 1974. It’s been my only profession. Over my career I’ve occasionally been recruited into supervisor and/or administrative roles, but always in the mental health field. The last 24 years I’ve had a private practice in Asheville, NC.
Ah so, what can I say? I’m getting to be an old-timer.
I’ve done ‘good work’ throughout my counseling career. But, I know I’m now the most skillful and effective counselor I’ve ever been… partly because of seeing a couple thousand clients over the past 40 years. And learning from each! All else being equal…. experience matters.
And there are a few advantages to growing older… like greater wisdom, wider perspective, more compassion…
50% Longer Couple’s Sessions (75 minutes)more
The ’50 Minute Session’ is a tradition in counseling dating back over 100 years. It’s also lousy for effective couple’s counseling.
That’s why all my couple’s sessions are scheduled to be 75 minutes, which gives you nearly 50% more actual counseling time every month than with 50 minute sessions.
If a 50 minute session is sufficient to address the needs of one individual…. how can it also be sufficient for addressing the concerns of 2 individuals AND the interactions between them?
In my experience, it simply isn’t. Too often a 50 minute session ends with a client feeling incomplete, rushed, or cut off abruptly as the time has run out. And it’s frustrating for me too, knowing we could have gotten further with more time.
A Small and Limited Caseloadmore
I work with no more than 15 couples at a time. So, why would you care how many clients I see?
For a relationship therapist, a major difference from individual counseling is every ‘client’ is actually 2 people… each with their own personality, different ways of understanding information, and their own personal story.
So for each couple I see there are 2 people I want to know at depth, grasp their pressing concerns, uncover how they’ll get the most from counseling, and keep up with their progress.
It’s something like a TV drama where characters have individual stories running throughout the season. There’s a limit on how many dramas you can watch and really keep up with all those different stories lines. And it’s the same with counseling.
Neuroscience research indicates there’s a limit to the number of close and caring relationships humans can maintain at one time. Since counseling requires a deep caring and active engagement with you… this means there’s a limit on how many couples I can be seeing and still give you each my best counseling.
For me, that number is 12 – 15 couples. Therefore, I limit my counseling to no more than 15 couples at any time, to be sure all my clients receive my best focus and effort in assisting them.
Weekly Feedback Allows Quick Adjustmentsmore
Some clients who’ve been in couple counseling previously tell me they didn’t find it helpful or feel the counselor was ‘getting them’. They also frequently mention they didn’t receive enough practical ‘real world’ guidance about what to they can do to change their experience.
And I always wonder, how could that counselor not know?
It turns out the research on this indicates counselors often overestimate how well we’re doing, unless we regularly get honest input from our clients. Ironically, this tendency actually increases as a counselor has more experience.
Relatively few counselors have a system to get input back from their clients about how the counseling is going for THEM. But, what could be more important?
My clients complete a simple (but well researched and tested) form at the end of every session letting me know how that day’s session fit their needs. This lets me know we’re on target and the approach I’m using is a good match for you.. or when it wasn’t that day.
By doing this every week we’re able to notice concerns immediately and quickly make changes to stay on track with your needs – and to be sure what I do in our sessions matches your way of learning and for putting new information into action.
Clients’ Satisfaction Ratings Over 90%more
The average level our clients’ satisfaction with their couple counseling sessions has been over 90% each month since 2015 when we began getting feedback at every session.
Of course, that doesn’t mean I never get an evaluation below 90% from individual clients or a particular session. It’s common for new clients to have lower levels of satisfaction the first few weeks as I’m getting to know them. And there certainly are sessions when a client doesn’t like something I’ve said or done… resulting in lower ratings that day.
But that’s exactly what the session evaluation is for – to let me know when this happens, so I’m able to quickly discuss the concern with you and we can make adjustments.[details on how this is calculated can be found here – or you can ask me to describe the process in our consultation.]
Evening Appointments Availablemore
Pulling together 2 peoples schedules is a challenge – and with couple counseling we need to coordinate 3 people’s schedules. It’s often difficult for couples to both get free for regular daytime appointments
So, I currently offer a 5:00 appointment 4 days a week and a 6:30 appointment 2 days a week. This allows 6 ‘late appointments’ each week – enough to serve about half of my usual weekly clients.
There’s no added cost for these ‘outside of business hours’ appointments, but I do give priory to clients who can commit to using the same evening time slot for several weeks.
Gold Standard Service at Affordable Costsmore
I understand counseling is an expense… and one that’s usually not been anticipated. Sometimes insurance can help, although insurance companies frequently decline marriage counseling as not being ‘medically necessary’.
And to be eligible for insurance reimbursement, almost certainly one person must be given an eligible mental health diagnosis. (Becoming a permanent part of their medical record.)
I do not participate with any insurance plans directly, although for some clients I provide the information needed to file claims on their own.
But, I still want my clients to get the best counseling I can provide – and be able to afford it – even without insurance.
I have developed a system to provides high quality counseling at a reasonable and predictable cost. We can cover the details in our consultation, but basically it provides 3 couples sessions (75 minutes) and 2 individual sessions (50 minutes) each month for a flat rate under $500 a month.
It’s by using this monthly approach I’m able to offer my services at 30% less than my standard per session rates. If some month you need an additional session – it’s also reduced 30%. Same thing for when we start winding down and having fewer sessions per month.
Just for some comparison. If you break down the total counseling time you receive into standard 50 minute sessions, you get the equivalent of 6 1/2 sessions each month at a ‘per session cost’ under $75.
I hope you, like my current clients, conclude that’s a solid value for counseling with a relationship specialist bringing four decades of experience to your sessions.
Central Location, Easy Access and Parkingmore
It might not be fancy, but getting to my office couldn’t be simpler…
My office is located right at the intersection of I-240 and Charlotte Street on the east edge of downtown Asheville. No need to deal with local traffic – I’m 1 minute off 240. There’s also free parking available in the building’s parking lot.
Although the building is old and a bit shabby, the Asheville Marriage Counseling suite offers you a comfortable and private waiting room for your appointments.<br>
If you feel I could be a good match for you, give me a call at (828) 686-9601 to arrange a time for us to meet.
We’re fortunate to have many counselors and therapists in Asheville. There’s certainly no shortage of quality folks to choose from. It may actually be a little overwhelming even figuring out where to begin.
Here’s one starting point. A 20 year research study clearly concludes the NUMBER ONE most reliable factor for how helpful counseling will be is your comfort, confidence, and trust with your therapist. So, it’s well worth taking a little time to find someone with whom you both feel a good connection.
This is why I offer a free hour long consultation and encourage you to spend some time with me in person, before making a decision… and encourage you to meet with a couple other counselors, as well.
Of course, a solid relationship is crucial, but it’s not the only important consideration.
You also want a counselor who’s an expert with couple and relationship issues, can offer affordable rates, and is capable of adjusting counseling to fit your unique situation, needs, and personality styles.
As the owner of Asheville Marriage Counseling, I strive for excellence in my work and the counseling I provide you. If you choose me as your relationship therapist, I want you always feeling you’re getting solid, practical, real-world value for the investment you’re making in your marriage.
So no, you won’t find me in a shiny office building with fancy new furniture and expensive art on the walls. (That’s all nice, but ultimately it’s YOU paying for it.) And we may play phone tag occasionally, so I don’t have to charge higher fees to cover the cost of an office assistant.
Instead, I’ve designed my practice to simply offer you highly effective couples’ counseling in a comfortable private space… with a mind towards helping you manage your cost.
Call me to schedule your free consultation at (828) 686-9601