Perhaps your relationship has been struggling for a while now. Maybe arguments have become more frequent, or intimacy has become less so. You’ve thought about getting help more than once, but you keep hoping things will get better on their own. Or the thought of couples counseling just seems too intimidating. But now the problems have gotten hard to ignore. You’ve thought about leaving – or your partner has talked about it. You’ve decided it’s time to take action.
Couples sometimes wonder “Does couples counseling actually work?” Fortunately, there is now a great deal of good research on how couples can improve relationship satisfaction and what makes couples therapy effective. I’m trained in the Gottman Method, a research-based approach to couples counseling. For couples wanting to get started on the right foot, I also offer premarital counseling.
Many couples wait too long to enter couples counseling. In fact, it is often undertaken as a last resort before calling it quits. That’s unfortunate. When resentments have built up over time, expectations of each other (and the relationship) have diminished and the reservoir of good will in the relationship is at low ebb, therapy becomes that much more difficult.
Working on your relationship is challenging for all sorts of reasons. The issues literally hit us close to home. Even if we feel our partner’s at fault, we worry about opening Pandora’s box and having to face our own stuff. Airing some of the most intimate details of our lives with a third party can feel scary. And we worry: what if it doesn’t work?
Here are some suggestions for making the most from couples counseling:
- Sooner is better than later. When a relationship is in trouble, every argument, disappointment or cold shoulder can tear at the fabric of your love for one another. Don’t wait!
- Realize that couples counseling is an investment in what matters most in your life. Working with an experienced therapist isn’t inexpensive, and therapy takes time, energy and commitment. Stick with it. I think it’s an error to stop and start with this kind of work; when you bring up issues that are difficult or painful, you want to work them through to a healthy conclusion.
- Come prepared to take responsibility. How did you help create the situation that is causing you distress? How can you help to make things better?
- Give and take is part of life. The right attitude helps. People sometimes think of relationships as a “50/50 split,” but I think that’s simplistic. Successful relationships move beyond winners and losers and seek collaboration so each person gets what he needs.
Finding the right therapist is important. This is no place for amateurs. As your therapist I will guide, translate, teach, support and challenge you. Having experience with a wide variety of couples, I know how relationships work – and how they get stuck. Even after 25 years in the field I frequently get continuing education to have a variety of techniques available to help you. It is important that both partners in the relationship feel supported and challenged during therapy.
I have worked with all sorts of couples. Many of my clients are same-gender couples or people in nontraditional relationships.
I am a professional counselor licensed by the State of Georgia for more than 25 years, I provide both individual therapy and couples counseling to all sorts of people. I have a Master of Science degree in clinical psychology from Purdue University. I am a member of the American Counseling Association.
My approach to couples counseling is nonjudgmental and compassionate. One of the great things about being in Atlanta is the opportunity to work with a very diverse community – busy professionals, people of varied economic, ethnic or racial backgrounds, LGBT men and women, people who have relationships or sexual interests that come in all varieties. Our work together is determined by your goals, not a per-conceived or one-size-fits-all approach to emotional health.
Good couples counseling goes beyond just listening and support. I am engaged with my clients to help them gain greater self-understanding and make the changes that make life better.
I limit the number of clients I work with so I can provide each person with the best possible care and attention. My intention is to keep us focused on your goals, which helps make couples counseling more effective. And whether you choose to work with me or not, you may want to look at my recommendations for getting the most from psychotherapy.
If you want to talk with me about working together, I’m happy to answer your questions.
Hours by appointment only.
John R. Ballew, M.S.
537 Linwood Ave., NE
Atlanta, GA 30306