What can I expect from couples therapy?:
We ask to meet with both partners first to understand the problems/concerns from both of your perspectives as well as to observe how the two of you interact. We will then schedule 1-2 individual appointments with each partner so the therapist can get a better understanding of your individual histories and symptoms that might be contributing to the overall couple issue. After the individual meetings, your therapist will meet with you and your partner together again to solidify a treatment plan and begin the couples therapy work together.
Once couples therapy work begins, you and your therapist will explore individual emotions (surface and underlying), negative interaction patterns that happen in the relationship, how past relationship hurts or family of origin experiences may play a role in current couple dynamics, direct communication between each of you, and sexual dynamics. Your therapist may also ask you to complete homework assignments or to observe your own behaviors during the week.
What type of approach do you use?
We conceptualize cases and treats couples using attachment, systems, and relational psychodynamic theories. We pull heavily from Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT), developed by Dr. Sue Johnson and Dr. Les Greenberg, as well as elements from Gottman Method Couples Therapy, developed by Dr. John Gottman. EFT is a research-based and empirically validated couples therapy approach that views relationship distress as being maintained by absorbing states of negative emotion. These emotions manifest in unhelpful and constricted interaction patterns that make safe, emotional engagement quite difficult. EFT works in three stages: 1.) Deescalate negative interaction cycles/patterns; 2.) Change interaction patterns to include identifying your own feelings, needs, and wants, accepting those of your partner's, and expressing emotions, needs, and wants to each other; 3.) Find new solutions to old problems and strengthen new interaction cycles.
What experience do you have working with couples?
Dr. Hanzlik: I have completed a 32-hour (4-day) externship in Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy facilitated by Dr. Sue Johnson. During my pre-doctoral internship, I participated in an additional couple and family training rotation. During my formal training, as well as after licensure, I attended numerous AASECT conferences that addressed treatment strategies in couple and sexual therapy. I regularly attend continuing education programming to stay up-to-date with the latest evidenced-based practice methods for most effectively treating couples.
What type of couples do you work with?
At IPCI, we see couples from a wide range of backgrounds including racial, religious/spiritual, and cultural backgrounds. We also work with couples of varying sexual orientations and gender identities including heterosexual; gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer sexual orientations; couples where one or both partners are questioning their sexual orientation; and couples where one or both partners identify as transgender or gender non-conforming.