Resolving a Marital Crisis – Intensive Couples Counseling
By: Risa Ganel, LCMFT Owner/Principle Therapist
Couples Counseling in Columbia MD
Sometimes, defusing a marital crisis takes more intensive couples counseling than what’s possible in standard sessions. When this occurs, Together Couples Counseling (TCC) offers 90-minute sessions to stabilize things. That’s what happened when Emily and Mike (names and details changed to maintain privacy) came to us.
Mike had just discovered Emily was having an affair with a coworker. Mike often travels for work, and was now anxious to leave, fearing what Emily might do while he was away. The two tried talking, but neither knew how to handle their emotional turmoil.
Emily promised she had ended the affair, but since it was with a coworker, Mike felt anxious each time she went to work. Would she see that coworker? Would she restart the affair? With this emotional storm, they could barely stand to be in the same room together, making it nearly impossible to care for their two young daughters.
Clearly, they were in severe crisis and needed intensive couples counseling to contain things so they could function. After four 90-minute therapy sessions over a three-week period, Mike regained perspective on what made his marriage worth fighting for. He moved beyond his justified anger, past wanting to smear Emily’s reputation in their extended family and out her affair partner to his wife.
Their progress during the first few sessions helped them find enough peace that they could partner again in caring for their daughters. This in turn helped them remember why they wanted to be together in the first place. Today, after hard work on their relationship, Mike and Emily say therapy saved their marriage, making it stronger than before.
The Goals of Intensive Couples Counseling
When needed, intensive sessions can:
- Help contain your anxiety and stabilize your emotions
- Put off important decisions, avoiding the poor decisions likely in crisis mode
- Avoid telling everyone about an affair or telling the spouse of the person with whom an affair happened – these can backfire and intensify the damage caused by the affair itself
- Help when one of you wants to discuss the affair and the other doesn’t
- Discern whether either of you feels the marriage is over because of an affair, and sometimes help that partner reconsider
Intensive counseling helps manage your anxiety and anger enough to bring you the stability needed for good long-term decisions.
Marriage Therapy Intensives and Retreats Aren’t Appropriate for Marital Crises
Marriage therapy intensives and weekend (or longer) retreats are typically done in groups. While such intensive retreats can help couples build on what’s working in their relationship, or address non-acute issues, they aren’t meant for crises, which require individualized therapy for one couple.
Intensive Couples Counseling at TCC
Through extended sessions, we provide the intensive counseling needed to defuse marital crises. Once you’re out of crisis mode, we move to standard sessions, providing the optimal balance between the support and guidance of therapy, and the time needed to reflect and apply what you learn in your day-to-day life.