Couple Therapy with Individual Partners

Couple therapy is usually both persons in the same sessions working towards a common goal.

At times, it can be helpful for the therapist to visit with the individual partners and couples often request this. They have their own reasons, as do the therapists. And some of the reasons to meet individually have merit. For example, it might be helpful for one partner to talk through their “family of origin” without the other being there. Though, I have found it is helpful to have the less active partner to listen to the narrative again, even though they think they know it all.

But there are problems with the therapist visiting with individual partners and it is important to understand this prior to going one-on-one.

Triangles are a problem. “He said, she said” is what it usually sounds like. It can come back this way: “Did you really suggest that my husband leave me? Or were you working to have him finally make a decision about being with me?” “Hmm,” I muse. “Now how do I handle this?”

Spousal secrets are a big deal. “Please don’t tell Jack about what I am about to say…” I usually say something like, “I have a terrible memory of what I am supposed to forget. Are you sure you want to tell me?” They usually do tell me anyway and then we figure out how to disclose or the marriage-saving reasons to keep it a secret.

There are occasions when the partner uses the individual appointment to appraise the therapist of the spouse’s presumed faults. EG, “Did you know that Bob was diagnosed as ADD by our previous therapist? I think that is why he doesn’t help in the kitchen.”

Therapy is powerful. Deep listening results in feeling deeply understood and sometimes this results in a kind of fusion making for confusion. When the focus is on the individual, the person can experience herself differently than as a part of a couple. And say different things.

A few other thoughts when this situation arises: sometimes (seldom?), I will recommend the person wishing individual contact to visit with another counsellor while I continue with the couple work. This is helpful sometimes but it does result in another kind of triangle and a great deal of costly overlap. 

I also recommend that my clients understand the power of triangles. I have some articles on my website that I think are helpful and there is lots more on the web. When both parties figure out how doing individual work with their couple’s therapist can be a problem, they can often move forward with information and understanding. And that helps.

I think I have opened up a conversation without many conclusions in this blog. But I do want you, my client-friends, to be aware of some of this. Let’s talk about it during our next sessions.

My best to you.  

Counselling / Consulting Services: Times and Costs

We do not have a “flat” rate for our counselling / consulting services. Mine (Paddy) is more complicated, so I will outline my times and costs first.

  1. My basic rate is $180 per 60-minute hour. This is the cost on my regular counselling days, Mondays and Thursdays. The recommended College of Psychologist’s rate is $225 per hour and this is usually a 50-minute hour. (My rate has not increased in 8 years.)
  2. My off-time rate is $225 per 60-minute hour or the recommended rate of the College. I allow a few sessions on my non-regular-counselling-days where appropriate or necessary. This is at my discretion.
  3. I offer a 9-11 am (2 hour) appointment on some Friday mornings due to urgency or crisis. This time is often taken by out-of-towners who are visiting the Vancouver area (during non-Covid-19 weeks). The rate for this block is $450 (or 2 x $225).
  4. My group consultation rate is higher than the above. It works out to $750-1000 per block (a 2-4-hour block of time). This is offered to organizations but sometimes extended families as well. Again, non-Covid-19 weeks though I have done this on Zoom as well.

When you book an appointment, the times and costs are specified on vCita.

Carole’s rate is $165 per 60-minute hour, on her workdays (Tuesdays and Wednesdays) or other times as agreed. She works this out with you as she does not use vCita. Contact Carole at carole@theducklows.ca.

We offer subsidized fees for those who do not have insurance coverage and have financial need. We call it Thirds because we reduce our fee a third, ask the client to pay for a third and invite an organization (e.g. church or social service agency, as examples) to pay a third. You can read about this here. Note: we do not subsidize fees where an insurance company is involved. And, we do not offer Thirds for group consultation or off-time rates.

During Covid-19 we are promoting our Thirds program for those with less income and reduced employment. We are also sensitive to the anxiety of families during this pandemic time and we are responsive to requests for an adjustment of times and costs.

Regarding fees generally, please see “Counselling Can Be Expensive.”

We do not have a “flat” rate for our work because we are attempting to charge proportionately to your needs and financial ability.

If you have any questions at all, please let me know — paddy@theducklows.ca. Thanks.

Tele-Psych with Paddy and Carole (Video-Counselling with Doxy.me)

For the coming weeks, Paddy and Carole will be counselling, cajoling and comforting over Doxy.me, a hyper-secure teleconferencing system. (Did you see the pun? “Doc-see-me.”) If you have made in-person appointments with me or Carole, these will be changed to tele-psych appointments over Doxy unless you email me. I don’t recommend longer than an hour, so longer appointments might be abbreviated as needed.

Using Doxy, you don’t need to download anything — you just get an email from me on the time you have booked. Click that and you are in.

To go directly to Carole’s Doxy waiting room, click here.

To go directly to Paddy’s Doxy waiting, click here.

We are moving from Skype and FaceTime to something that is simpler and more secure. You can look up Doxy.me here. It will take you a couple of minutes to orient, but it is pretty basic and easy to use.

Having said this, if you need to visit us at our office, this can be arranged for exceptional circumstances (“What! You don’t have a webcam or a smartphone?!”). In this case, please read my blog “Current Covid-19 Concerns.” This will explain our approach to minimizing contact and thwarting this disease should you visit our home office.

Prior to starting video-counselling, I want to go over a few things with you. Here is my list.

  • There are obvious benefits to video-counselling. If you are out of the Vancouver area or if you have some sickness. Some busy business folk who are trapped in meetings video-call me from their offices and cars!
  • There are some risks too. We are using technology (and wires and stuff, that I don’t know much about) to make this work. This is why we are switching to Doxy.me. It is just more secure.
  • Confidentiality still applies to all telepsychology services.
  • We will not record our sessions and I can’t see why we would wish a recording – so we won’t record. We hope that you won’t either.
  • Note that you need to use a webcam or smartphone during the session. Otherwise, it is much more difficult with simply voice.
  • It is important to be in a quiet, private space that is free of distractions (including a cell phone or other devices) during the session. Kids can be a problem too.
  • It is important to use a secure internet connection rather than public/free Wi-Fi (eg Starbucks).
  • It is important to be on time. If you need to cancel or change your tele-appointment, you must notify us in advance by phone or email. Can you give us a day or so? Sure helps us.
  • We need a back-up plan (e.g., a phone number where you can be reached) to restart the session or to reschedule it, in the event of technical problems. Make sure we have your phone number.
  • You should confirm with your insurance company that the video sessions will be reimbursed; if they are not reimbursed, you are responsible for the payment.
  • As your psychologist, I may determine that due to certain circumstances, telepsychology is no longer appropriate and that we should resume our sessions in-person.
  • Get your coffee or pour your tea and let’s get going. Connect with Doxy.me.

 

Best to you all and stay healthy.

Paddy and Carole