It takes couples a great deal of courage to make the initial call to a therapist. I am very clear with my clients that the effort it took to get to my office is important. We work together in our sessions to give language and empathy to both sides of the stories.
One of the first steps is learning how to listen without our defenses coloring what we hear. Traditionally I work with couples together, only. However, when appropriate I will invite couples to be seen individually for a couple of sessions, to encourage growth in areas we feel stuck. I have completed the Gottman level I and level II marriage counseling training and employ much of this in my work.
Premarital counseling is also very important. I work with a couple of systems to help couples prepare for their marriage before their big day. It is significant to have a neutral party lay eyes on your relationship to help spot any potential difficulties as well as encourage healthy spots of their relationship.