Guided Couples Work vs Couples Counseling

What is Guided Couples Work + How is it Different than Couples Counseling?

For over a decade, I retained a designation of “Registered Psychotherapist” in order to do formal couples counseling. In the last few years, I’ve intentionally left the registration behind. 

I’m now focusing on “couples work” or “therapeutic guidework.” 

Since many people have asked me about the difference between couples work and couples counseling, I wanted to share some of the biggest distinctions I’ve noticed. To be sure, each has its place within the spectrum of assistance couples may need at times.

But the TL:DR? My latest approach delights my clients and serves their relationships better. 

Here’s the breakdown.

Traditional “Couples Counseling” treats mental health 

“Couples counseling,” also known as “couples therapy” addresses major relational conflicts while treating mental health disorders and assisting individuals to heal from past traumas. Couples therapy is a professional service provided by licensed mental health professionals. 

I am a trained (formerly licensed) psychotherapist and worked in the capacity of couples counselor and therapist from 2011-2020. However, after nearly a decade of working this way, I decided to forgo my license in March of 2020. I needed more geographic flexibility at that time, among many other reasons outlined below.

Today “Couples Work” further strengthens relationships

Couples work helps couples improve their communication, resolve conflicts, and strengthen the relationship. Couples work aims to help couples develop a deeper understanding of themselves and each other. This often leads the couple to foster a more authentic and fulfilling connection.

In my opinion, the “couples work” or “therapeutic guidework” I offer provides the best of the couples counseling model and the coaching or targeted guidance model. As a trained and formerly licensed psychotherapist, I will always bring a couples therapy eye to your relationship. As a guide I offer psycho-education, tools, insights, support and facilitation to practice the new skills needed to find (or re-find) harmony within your relationship. 

We can address a wide range of issues, including communication problems, trust issues, infidelity, sexual difficulties, parenting disagreements, financial conflicts, and more.

And yes, I am subtly tracking attachment styles, relational toxins, corrosive habits, regulation, co-regulation, tone, non-verbals, prior wounding, and more. I support you to find honest, examined and healthy ways of relating. 

However, in these sessions I’m not a “blank slate” as a traditional therapist might be. I bring my whole self. I can interject and provide guidance with more authenticity–as a guide and fellow traveler. This is essential for deep foundational change. Clients enjoy and are comforted by my presence as a real person who offers my thoughts, (sometimes strong) opinions, advice, feedback and insight.

Benefits and requirements of doing couples work with me now

Today I find that the coaching model (through couples work or therapeutic coaching) is simply more expeditious for my clients. 

One very important benefit is being more honest and direct with clients. I can push them harder, and do more expeditious work, to get clients out of toxic situations faster. And I’ve seen that relationships can be saved by going faster. And serving as a coach or advisor, I can work with the partners both jointly and separately which can further expedite the work. 

In terms of requirements, you do need a certain level of health to work with me in this way. I’m no longer working with people who have not yet worked through deep trauma, addiction, or other serious issues. So I refer out and connect clients to specific resources as needed.* The nature of the work I do requires stable mental health, a growth mindset and emotional sophistication.

It’s helpful for clients to know from the start that I don’t hold myself out to be an expert or guru. When I work with couples, we’re three people working shoulder to shoulder. We’re working on behalf of the relationship, rolling up our sleeves and grappling with issues together. 

Some reasons informing my decision to work this way

Since I have all the training of a therapist, you can rest assured that you’re in really good hands. But I’ve let go the anchor of licensure to be of greater benefit to more people. Of course, I still subscribe to the ethics of a therapist. 

Yet some areas were I’ve found constraints with traditional therapy include: 

  • Diagnosis/ Insurance Panels. Therapists are required to issue a diagnosis. I’ve put down the framework of diagnoses. I’m not just focused on behavior and outcomes. I’m focused on the whole person/ couple and the relationship as a whole. Furthermore, I don’t work with insurance (which requires a diagnosis).
  • Dual relationships. Therapists are not allowed to have “dual relationships.” When it surfaces, yes, this can be an important concept. I believe it’s important to protect people from exploitation given certain positions of power. But I do like that I can evaluate whether I can serve my neighbors with couples work or individual coaching as needed.
  • Geographic flexibility. I like to be able to work across state lines. As mentioned earlier, I began working with clients nationwide via Zoom (and in-person for intensives) in March 2020.
  • Space for spirituality. I’m fiercely agnostic. Yet I also believe in great mystery and spirituality, and many of my clients appreciate being able to discuss aspects of this mystery and the unseen world with me. I like being able to weave in respect for our natural environment and all living things–the anima. 


Ultimately, I find it’s not necessary to work within the traditional confines of licensure – which frankly can feel somewhat arbitrary at times. 

How I describe my “therapeutic orientation” now:

Healing, true healing of current and ancient relational wounds, is at the core of my practice and my life. For over a decade, I have had the privilege of dedicating my career to guiding couples through the intricate and often challenging dynamics of their relationships. 

My successes have earned me a reputation for providing a compassionate, effective, and skills-based approach to therapy, which has helped innumerable couples heal and fortify the bonds that bring them together. I am deeply committed to empowering couples with the tools and insights they need to cultivate fulfilling and lasting partnerships, and I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to help people navigate the complex terrain of love and intimacy.

Throughout my career, I’ve seen firsthand the struggles that couples face, from communication breakdowns to infidelity and everything in between. And I have also witnessed the incredible resilience of the human spirit, and the power of love to heal even the deepest wounds. 

Less focused on offering “deliverables” or making forced behavioral changes, I care more about inviting you to step into the totality of your human experience. From there, you can learn to ‘do better’ through increased awareness. 

The objective is to help you get to the very core of your challenges, so you may transcend them. At times this includes holding you accountable, challenging your story, or pushing you to dig deeper in order to grow. You can count on my direct, honest and compassionate style. Don’t expect a one-size-fits-all approach either; I treat you like the unique, complex being that you are.

Together we can map out a plan for you to embark on this phenomenal voyage of self-discovery and transformation–whether as couples, parents, business partners, or individuals. I know firsthand that there is freedom and wholeness on the other side of deep personal work and examination of relationships. I would be honored to share these beautiful, life-changing experiences with you.


Experience couples work 

Let’s help you go deeper in partnership. Book an appointment with me today. 


*If you’re unsure whether you and/or your partner needs couples counseling or couples work, feel free to book a free consultation with me or a mental health practitioner.

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