J. Mike Ross, Ph.D.
Licensed Psychologist, Life Coach
Closed Office due to move to Arizona
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Approach to Counseling C

General Information for Couple's Counseling

The approach which I use is practical, respectful, results-oriented, and collaborative. It establishes a safe environment to address effectively your concerns. A safe environment is one which is comfortable, non-judgmental, genuine, and empathetic.

Clients have described me as knowledgeable, respectful, easy to talk to--and with a good sense of humor. Considered an expert in the process of counseling and change, I am not the expert on your life. That is your role. However, I can assist you in identifying what is important to you including your goals, your values, and your perspectives. I can also describe and provide resources for your consideration which give support and specific strategies to help you to make improvements and to achieve your goals.

My approach is practical, interactive, and focused on making effective progress as quickly as possible. I may provide feedback or another perspective for you to consider. Handouts and other resources may be provided for you to examine between sessions. These suggestions are made by recognizing that different individuals have more or less time to dedicate to the process between sessions. The approaches which I use are grounded in science.

Couple's Counseling
Clients have described me as engaging (i.e., actively facilitate the process and able to engage even reluctant partners in the process), as respectful of both perspectives, and as able to make both partners feel that I can relate to them while not "taking sides".

Couple's counseling is NOT simply the application of individual counseling principles applied to two individuals. I have received extensive couple's counseling experience and training from my formal education in earning a PhD. and master's degree. I am committed to ongoing training, to consultation, and to continued learning through experience in working with couples as exemplified by a consistently high proportion of my practice being dedicated to working with couples.

I have completed advanced training with Dr. John Gottman and Dr. Julie Gottman in the counseling of couples. Internationally recognized, they are preeminent in their work with couples. Their work has been shown to be effective and is based on scientific research that they and others have conducted over several decades. This foundation is the basis of my approach in working with couples.

Research suggests that couple's counseling is more complex. Therefore, the process may appear different as compared to individual counseling. For example, it is necessary to understand the perspective of two individuals. Often couples wait longer before seeking professional assistance (research indicates six years on average). One or perhaps both partners may be reluctant--or at least reluctant in the beginning--to participate in counseling. The couple may be distressed, and the person involved in that distress is in the session with them. Thus, more time may be needed for the assessment process. Making progress may involve working on more than one thing at a time. For example, communication occurs in the context of your relationship. That is, to improve communication we may focus on (1) improving communication skills while (2) working on improving your relatiionship (e.g., improving friendship, emotional intimacy, trust, etc.).

To reduce the amount of session time required for the assessment, I give each partner the opportunity to complete a set of questionnaires after the first session. This provides information in a scientifically validated manner. Couples often find it helpful in identifying their perspectives and goals for counseling. Using this information, my goal is to provide interventions to facilitate progress as quickly as possible in working with you as unique individuals in your couple’s relationship. Having said this, I can and will work with you as a couple whether or not you complete the questionnaires.

The goal of couple's counseling is that you leave a session feeling as though you are making progress, that you are honestly addressing your concerns, that you are making improvements in your relationship, and that you will be able to continue that process after counseling has ended. I often facilitate your conversations in session so that you can feel effectively heard by your partner and so that you can constructively address your concerns. During session you may be given an opportunity to practice strategies to improve your communication or relationship.
Unlike mediation, this process is to help you to resolve conflict and the difficulties in your relationship and to assist you in being able to do this on your own. I often provide handouts consistent with your goals to highlight issues that we are addressing in session or to make suggestions for activities between sessions. These activities might be designed to improve your friendship, your communication, your intimacy, your problem solving, your working through unresolved issues, or your rebuilding of trust.