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Frequently Asked Questions - General

FAQs - General

Solutions for Couples is forward thinking and works from the perspective of "from now on".  Counseling will often delve into your past before going forward.

Counseling is a therapeutic process by which you sit with a trained and certified psychologist or counselor and talk about your feelings as it relates to what is not working with your partner and your relationship. The counselor will help you to deal with those feelings and work through the problems. Counseling tends to go deeper into each person to see what might be underneath the surface that is causing the problems to persist. It will often deal with your past and how it is affecting your life currently. It is a great process and very helpful if that is what you need. I can give you referrals if that is what appears to be necessary.

Solutions for Couples deals more with issues than feelings. We will work on strategic solutions to specific problems. It will be a focused, facilitated session geared toward coming up with here-and-now answers to ongoing friction points. The focus is on agreed upon solutions, not on each other. The idea isn't to face each other and blame the other person for the problem. We will work together and write down solutions to problems. Since you both care about each other and want to stay together, then the brainstorming is about solutions to stay together, not about how the other person is a problem. Feelings and emotions are not avoided entirely and both sides will be able to hear the concerns of the other side. You can think of Solutions for Couples as being similar to sitting with a CPA to help you do your taxes.  You might be able to get your taxes done on your own, but you are far more likely to get it done right with a professional checking your work and keeping you accurate.

What keeps the process moving and quicker than other methods is that we will stay on track by not allowing the participants to go over the same issues obsessively in a circular fashion without end. It is a linear process with a beginning and end point. We will keep the outcome realistic and not based on a fantasy of either side. The idea is that it is better to have a good relationship rather than an unachievable one.

Below is a table that shows some of the main differences between Solutions for Couples Family Mediation and couples counseling:

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SOLUTIONS FOR COUPLES

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COUPLES COUNSELING

 

Usually 1 or 2 sessions per specified issue

 

Can be ongoing depending on the needs and desires of the couple

 

Always future oriented

 

May explore past as well as future

 

Feelings are acknowledged and not ignored, but they are not explored in depth

 

Feelings may be examined in depth to see what is underneath and driving current conflicts

 

No diagnosis of mental health conditions is done

 

A diagnosis is sometimes sought and given for insurance purposes and for therapeutic understanding

 

The practitioner is a neutral Rule 31 Family Mediator

 

The practitioner is usually a Psychologist or Counselor, who may take an advisory role

 

Mediation is a structured process that is explained at the beginning and often followed the same with each couple

 

Counseling is a process that is less structured and may change for each couple

 

The goal and outcome is a clear actionable written agreement or plan between the people

 

The outcome is a greater understanding of the people involved in order to improve the relationship

 

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Absolutely, unmarried couples can benefit from this process. In fact, it would be a very good idea to get some issues (and potential issues) worked out before you get married or plan a long term relationship. If couples have never lived together or they are living together and noticing some problems coming up, they can go a long way toward stopping problems before they take root and grow.

If you can, great. Many couples in crisis find that when they start throwing out ideas and solutions the other person becomes "triggered", because the solution doesn't work with their needs and the other person may not feel that they were considering enough in the equation. The couples unassisted brainstorming session then can quickly deteriorate. With a trained mediator, the trigger gets neutralized quickly and the brainstorming can continue, because the mediator is making sure that the interests and needs of both sides are equally considered.

Almost everything can be addressed in a mediated session. Here are some example issues that couples often need help to work out:

  • Household chores if both work
  • Money issues
  • Raising children
  • Whether to have children and when
  • Which school or college to send your child to
  • Moving to a new town
  • Living together issues
  • Which church to go to
  • Nights out with others (He with the guys, she with the girls)
  • Annoying behaviors
  • Anything that is causing your relationship to begin to derail

Many partners, especially men, find it difficult to get used to the idea of going to couples counseling or therapy. They may worry that they are going to be asked to change things that are really important to them or that lots of feelings are going to be discussed or they are going to be forced to "work" on their relationship endlessly. So if you approach the hesitant person by showing them this website and explaining that this is a process by which solutions rather than feelings are the focus, you are more likely to have someone become interested.

Some people will bring up the idea of couples counseling and find great resistance from the other partner. If this happens to you, you can tell them that there is now an alternative called Solutions for Couples, which is not counseling at all, but a process by which problems are worked out quickly, inexpensively and with less emotions.

Solutions for Couples is much more like working on a family project with a professional rather than counseling. It is also less expensive and you can always go to counseling if you both feel it is a good idea.

My role is a facilitator and I remain neutral throughout the process. I may push you to come up with more ideas and I may do what is called "reality testing" whereby I remind you of what might happen if you don't resolve certain problems, but my goal is always to get you to come up with the answers. Agreements are more durable when the solution is from you.

I won't be just sitting there, though. There is a process by which I will keep things moving in a way that you could not do by yourself. I won't allow the same stories to be told repeatedly and I won't allow hurtful remarks to be a part of the discussion and I won't allow one side to dominate. These are some of the reasons that this process works better than unassisted couples trying to work things out.

Yes, completely. Confidentiality assures that you can talk about anything in a mediation and it stays there and is not discussed outside.

I have a Masters Degree in Conflict Management from Lipscomb University. I was also a Tennessee Supreme Court Approved Rule 31 Family Mediator. You can see all my education, training and certifications here.

I am not an attorney. In many ways, I feel that this has helped me to think less legally and more compassionately. Not that attorneys are not compassionate and many attorneys become great mediators. It is just that their training often focuses more on advocacy for one side and the legal implications. I have interned with two law firms, including a divorce attorney/mediator, and have some legal knowledge, but my training at the Institute for Conflict Management is much more on being a faciliator and being neutral, so I am able to step back and help both sides equally.

Each situation is different, but I will say that one issue can usually be worked out in a couple of sessions of 1 to 2 hours in length. Regular rates are at $85 for the first hour and $1.25 per minute thereafter. We can finish at any point after the first hour. Compare that to weeks or months of counseling. Also think of the eventual cost of ignoring the problem and going through a break up or divorce and you can see the value in working on things now. Also, sliding scale fees can be considered in cases of financial hardship.