Marital Program

Couples’ Treatment Approaches

Dr. Beth Johnson, Clinical Psychologist

What is traditional  Couples’ Therapy?The classic approach to couples’ therapy is when one therapist treats the couple. Exploration of individual needs is limited and the focus is issues common to the couple. The therapist meets individually with members of the couple on only a limited basis to gather information or clarify issues If individual work is needed (and it often is) a referral could be made to a separate therapist for individual therapy while the couples’ therapist continues working with the couple.

  • This approach is less costly (one co-pay per visit vs. two co-pays for Conjoint couples’ therapy) and potentially less time consuming.
  • Many couples prefer this approach as they wish to focus on the marriage and they do not anticipate that they need individual support.

What happens to our therapy if we decide to divorce or separate? In traditional couples’ therapy, the couple can continue to see their therapist for assistance with separation and divorce issues when both agree and it is low-conflict. This is unusual. Typically, the couple is referred for individual treatment should they desire to continue with supportive care. This is because the couple’s therapist is put in a position of conflict of interest should he/she see one or both members of the couple during or after divorce.

What is Conjoint Couples’ therapy? As a solution to some of the limitations of Traditional Lakefront Wellness Center offers Conjoint Couples’ Therapy (CCT). The approach is intensive and is best for complicated relationship problems. The director assigns an individual therapist to each member of the couple. By using two therapists we avoid some of the common problems encountered in the traditional approach. You are treated individually and in couples’ therapy at the same time. Your issues and history are thoroughly examined and understood in the first sessions of treatment in individual sessions. Your therapist also works outside of your sessions with your spouse’s therapist discussing issues relevant to your couples’ therapy. The couple meets conjointly with both therapists on a schedule agreed upon by all parties. Together, the therapists and the couple come up with a plan that accommodates the unique problems in each relationship.

  • The advantage of adding individual treatment while doing couples’ work is vital when complex issues arise in couples’ therapy. We may break for one or more weeks to discuss the issues privately. If your marriage has been in trouble for awhile, or is in serous trouble now, this may be the treatment option for you.
  • If couples work is ended due to separation or divorce, there is no need to transfer to a new therapist, as in Traditional Couples’ therapy.
  • A barrier for beginning CCT is that it may take longer and be more expensive because each therapist bills separately. If insurance is involved, this is usually not a significant issue for couples as cost only applies to co-pay, co-insurance or deductibles.

Therapeutic Separation: When the relationship is not improving…

Tammy Groszczyk, MA, LPC

We hear many people say they want to make their relationship work but deep in their heart they hold another truth that determines the true destiny of their marriage. We have the tools to improve every relationship unless there is a lack of motivation. We can help you with the things that have led to poor motivation but ultimately motivation and the power to change rests in your hands.

Unfortunately, many couples come to treatment after people have lost their motivation to try and bitterness has set in. Unless there is forgiveness and a restoration of motivation, it may be too late for the couple to make the changes necessary to restore their marriage. In the couples’ assessments that each couple completes, we ask about motivation for change and their commitment to the marriage. We feel that when motivation and commitment are low (and non-responsive to change after therapy), it may be the therapist focus to assist the couple in the process of separating. Our approach may change to include Therapeutic Separation (TS). TS is the last resort treatment for couples who have been stuck and are not responding to couples’ therapy. It includes separation, without attorneys, and a continued commitment to couples’ therapy. The hope is that separation will move the couple into a clear direction to stay together or to move toward divorce.

Does your relationship have symptoms that are commonly associated with marital dysfunction?

  • Avoidance of communication with spouse
  • Pornography abuse
  • Fear of conflict with spouse
  • Mid-life crisis
  • Passive-aggressive behavior (behaviors meant to make your spouse mad)
  • Emotional or sexual affairs
  • Work-aholism
  • Lack of self/other awareness
  • Emotional Divorce
  • Feelings of inadequacy as a spouse
  • Depression that manifests as irritability
  • Lack of leadership/structure in the family and or withdrawal
  • Disappointment and anger at spouse
  • Low libido/sexual incompatibility
  • Financial problems
  • Nagging and criticism
  • Overwhelmed with Responsibility
  • Excessive conflict (e.g., sarcasm, criticism)
  • Decreased satisfaction with life
  • Lack of friendship with spouse
  • Behavior problems in children
  • Taking on parent role with your spouse
  • Chronic Unemployment
  • Loss of respect for spouse
  • Drug/Alcohol Abuse
  • Blended Family Issues
  • Domestic Violence
  • Verbal Abuse
  • Mental Illness

Yes, my marriage has some of these symptoms but is it worth it to work on my relationship?

At Lakefront Wellness Center, we believe that even good relationships benefit from proactive efforts to enhance the relationship. Every couple’s relationship has some issue just as every person has some quirk. If you believe your relationship is in trouble, we encourage you to call to set up an appointment. We value the institution of marriage and our mission is to help strengthen and save marriages. Here are some reasons to give your marriage that fighting chance.

  • Couples often endure years of pain in their marriage before help is sought and often divorce occurs with no counseling at all. If you’ve made the choice to stay with your marriage this long, isn’t it worth giving your marriage a little more time to see if change is possible? We encourage you to experience a different kind of pain…the pain that is associated with positive change. Yes, to be successful in repairing your relationship, you will have to give up habits and resentments and it may feel like you are being robbed of your “right” to feel a certain way. This can cause (good) pain. Positive changes will require hard work and a commitment of at least six months to a year. That might seem like a long time; however, the reality of the commitment is less than 30 hours of work to change patterns that have evolved over many years.
  • People seek divorce to make the pain go away; however the pain that is escaped with divorce may be replaced by different types of stressors (e.g., single parenting, loss of income). As these new stressors are negotiated, people may think: Did I give my marriage the chance it deserved? Did we make the right decision? Often, when marriages end without a thorough analysis of what has gone wrong, the behaviors that existed in this relationship are then transferred to a new relationship. The statistics for second marriages support our assertion: you may be better off fixing the relationship you are in rather than finding a new one. Divorce rates climb for every successive marriage.
  • Not every couple is in serious trouble when they make the decision to work on their marriage. Some couples are proactive and have issues that can be corrected within a few sessions. Simple changes sometimes improve the quality of the relationship and provide new inspiration for the relationship.
  • The marital relationship sets the tone for the entire family. Your success as a couple is the environment that helps your children thrive, now and in the future.
  • Your relationship with your spouse is the model for your children’s relationship with their future spouse. Quite often we duplicate patterns from our parents’ relationship. Is your marriage worth duplicating?

Johnson, B., & Groszczyk, T., (2006).
Conjoint Marital Treatment Introductory and Assessment Packet,
Property of Lakefront Wellness Center.

Contact Us

Lakefront Wellness Center, S.C.

Phone: 262-695-8857
Fax: 262-695-8879


Monday through Thursday
9am to 5pm

Evenings, Friday and Saturday:
Limited availability of some Therapists, call for more information
Changing relationship at a time!