How to Fire Your Couples Therapist in Three Easy Steps

I am always trying really hard to get myself fired. In fact it’s the goal of every session we have.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of many professions in which a practitioner can invite her own doom so vociferously. But for therapists it’s true. Don’t get me wrong–we want you to come in for a tune up now and again because our clients are kind of like our coworkers. We get invested in your successes and want to know how you’re continuing to live inside all those great goals we set the first time we met. But ultimately, we want you to get off our couches and onto the road to happiness and contentment.

My clients are coming to therapy to gain a sense of connection and mastery in their intimate relationships. We are in relationship all the time; we can’t help it. Even if it’s just talking to the guy who made your latte this morning, human connection is a fact of your life. And, I would submit to you that the world would be a better place if we all made the same sort of genuine, kind gestures to everyone that we must develop with our partners to stay in a committed relationship.

S0 h0w can you put me out to pasture sooner rather than later?

1) Fail Willingly: If you want to show your partner that you’re committed to a happy, healthy relationship you also have to be committed to falling on your face sometimes. Ask questions to which you aren’t sure you want to know the answer. Then, ask more questions. It requires a fair amount of intestinal fortitude to really get deep with someone when you’re worried you may be the problem. They may ask you to do things that you deeply believe won’t make a difference. But what if they do? What if you failed trying to do something explicit rather than creeping along at the edges of your relationship furtively making changes you only hope might work because you haven’t vetted them with your partner? This kind of courageous intentionality is ultimately the only thing that will let you know if this union can survive.

2) Change Behaviorally: Motivational guru Tony Robbins says that, “A real decision is measured by the fact that you’ve taken an new action. If there’s no action you haven’t truly decided.” Sometimes, couples come to me on the cusp of separation to “just make sure we’ve explored every option.” That’s probably not a bad idea. But, simply showing up for session and chatting while you’re here isn’t going to cut it. We won’t have magical conversations that transform your relationship. Rather, together we’ll develop a magical set of tools that you can use to make big changes. But, if you don’t go out and truly do the things we’ve talked about–if you don’t change your behavior, you best not be out telling people you gave couples therapy a shot. I often make couples have the same old conversation in different ways right in front of me. It feels awkward but we have to get at change where it lives–in the doing of the thing. If you can have that conversation differently, really see a new reaction from your partner and commit to doing things differently outside of session too, we’re winning. It only has to work once for you to agree that change can happen. Then, you’re on the hook for carrying it forth into the future. What a delightful burden!

3) Give Unashamedly: There is a difference between being sacrificial and demonstrating compassion and generosity of spirit. Folks who have been taken advantage of in the past, or came from a family of origin in which they were made to feel like a chump for taking care of others have a hard time with this one. Nobody wants to extend themselves if they can’t say for sure that their nurturance will be reciprocated. It feels icky–and vulnerable. But, this kind of openness begets openness and develops a kind of circular reinforcement of caretaking. The risk you take to really take care of your partner in whatever way he or she needs is one that is worth it. It reinforces for you that you are a kind, effective partner. It reinforces for your partner that he or she is safe and loved.

Could your relationship use a tuneup as we head into the new year? Would you like to see how we can transform your relational habits into actions that reap real rewards? Why don’t you come on in so that we can talk about it.

Your Partner in Healing,


Are you looking for individual, couples or group therapy in Raleigh? Call me today to schedule a consultation to learn how counseling can help you. Please contact me at (919) 714-7455 or email me at Visit me on the web at or:

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