The Second Couple’s Counseling Session and What to Expect
You’ve completed your first couples therapy session, you’re on your way. Hopefully, after your first session you’re feeling more optimistic that you’re headed in the right direction. In addition, you should come away from the first couples therapy session with a positive feeling about the therapist you selected. In this Question and Answer interview with psychologist Dr. Angela Bisignano, she answers questions about your second couples therapy session. If you haven’t yet, read part one of this series, “The First Couple’s Counseling Session and What to Expect.”
All relationships experience challenges at some point. Life events such as major illness or disease, conflict challenges, betrayal, and financial problems can certainly stress a relationship. When facing difficulties healthy communication is essential. When a couple feels they are unable to solve their problems on their own, one or both partners may decide to pursue the counsel of a professional. Enter psychologist Dr. Angela Bisignano who specializes in marriage and couples therapy.
Q: What can a couple expect in their second session with you?
In the second session I have an individual meeting with each person. This intake session is similar to the first couple’s session in regards to gathering information. In this individual session; however; I am focusing on getting a good understanding and assessment of the individual’s family of origin, history, other relationships, significant events that have occurred in the person’s life, as well as other pertinent information. I try and make people feel at ease during this session letting them know that they only need to tell me what they feel comfortable sharing. Although the more information they can provide, the better my understanding of them will be. My experience has been that most all my clients feel comfortable and safe opening up to me.
Q: Will a couple take any additional assessments during the second session?
I have each person take an attachment assessment during this session. This assessment helps me to understand their attachment style. We know from research that people have either secure attachments, avoidant, anxious or disorganized styles of attachment. This information helps provide me with more insight into the dynamics that may be occurring in the relationship and make plans for treatment.
Q: Do you use assessments or psychological inventories in your therapy with couples?
Yes, I do. I have three primary psychological assessments I use in couple’s therapy. Depending on what I may discover about an individual I may recommend further testing.
Q: When does the individual take the relationship assessment?
Between the first couple’s intake session and the first individual intake session. It is a confidential assessment that each person takes on their own. They don’t share their results with their partner. Once each have completed the assessment I analyze the results.
Q: Will you go over the relationship assessment during this session?
I won’t go over the relationship assessment with the couple, until the feedback and treatment session. This is the next session where we all reconvene. During this session I provide the couple with the results of my assessment and treatment plan going forward. I let couples know precisely the relationship areas / issues that we will be focusing on in therapy. During the individual session I will note any concerns I may have after reviewing and analyzing their relationship assessments. If there is anything I need to discuss with them, I will ask questions and get a better understanding of what may be going on.
Q: How long is the second session?
The second session generally lasts between 45 and 50 minutes.