Counseling for Couples

If you’re tired of fighting or feeling disconnected from your spouse, I’m here to help.  Couples counseling might feel intimidating, but I will work hard to make it a positive experience for you so your relationship can become a safe haven rather than a source of stress.

I have training from Dr. Sue Johnson, founder of Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), and I use this method to help couples address the core issues that impact their ability to not only stay together but to love their relationship.

 

When is Couples Counseling Appropriate?

Boise Couples Counseling with Natalie Thomson, MS, LPCWhether you are dating, newly married, or many years into your marriage, I will work to help you develop a more secure connection with your partner.  I work with couples who struggle with high conflict, couples who feel distant and lack intimacy, and couples who generally like their relationship but want it to be even better.  I have experience helping couples heal from infidelity, connect despite high-stress careers, and learn how to support one another when there is a history of trauma.

Major life transitions and times of loss are also good times to seek out couples counseling.  Even positive events, such as a new baby or a job promotion, can create stress, and if each partner has a different way of coping, the couple can become disconnected.  Using a proven approach called Emotionally Focused Therapy, I help couples in these situations learn how to connect so they can face life’s challenges together. 

Couples counseling is also appropriate for partners considering divorce but who are genuinely willing to work on the relationship before making this decision.

What Couples Counseling is NOT

Boise Marriage Counseling with Natalie Thomson, MS, LPCI do not conduct couples counseling with couples who are in physically abusive relationships, couples who maintain “open” relationships, or couples where one or both members continue to pursue other romantic/sexual connections.

Couples counseling is also not appropriate if one or both members have a serious mental health or substance abuse issue that is not being adequately addressed through individual counseling or other resources.

Proud Member of the National Registry of Marriage Friendly Therapists

The National Registry of Marriage Friendly Therapists

Boise Couples Counselor Natalie Thomson, MS, LPC

I’ve done couples counseling before, and I didn’t like it…

Most likely, the form of couples counseling I do is different from what you have done before.

Many counselors focus on the symptoms of a weak relationship, not the causes. They attempt to change how the couple talk to one another, suggest the couple spend more quality time together, and try to resolve the couple’s disagreements. ​

However, couples who are in a lot of distress or feel deeply disconnected are unlikely to succeed in any of these activities, and this lack of success may make the partners feel even more hopeless about their relationship. I am a firm believer that most of us have the communication skills we need to succeed in relationships, but we may not use them because powerful emotional responses take over when we feel at odds with our significant other.

I also believe conflict is not the enemy; it is the way we handle conflict that can harm the relationship. I help couples identify their problem patterns, understand why the patterns continue, and become aware of their emotional responses that trigger and get triggered by these patterns.

I help couples talk about and make sense of what happens for each person in the midst of these problem patterns so they can understand one another’s experience in the relationship and during conflict. Through this, couples are able to choose new ways of responding to each other.

When couples achieve this, their bond and communication naturally improve and they understand what it feels like to be truly loved, accepted, and able to tackle life’s challenges together.

Boise Couples Counslor, MS, LPC

My Qualifications

While many counselors have never been formally trained to work with couples, my graduate training was in marriage and family therapy, with a significant portion of my studies, instruction, and supervised counseling experience focused on couples and families.  

I continue to pursue advanced training in couples counseling through the International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy (ICEEFT) and have training from Dr. Sue Johnson, founder of Emotionally Focused Therapy.

PTSD Counseling with Natalie Thomson, MS, LPC

Trauma & Relationships​

If you or your partner has a history of trauma, chances are it has impacted your relationship.  Trauma impacts our ability to form and engage in healthy relationships, and problems in our relationships impact our ability to handle the symptoms of trauma.  

However, Emotionally Focused Therapy is particularly helpful in addressing how trauma and relational distress intertwine.  In some instances, couples counseling alone is helpful at addressing the impact of the trauma, and in other situations a combination of individual and couples counseling may be best.

Counseling Session with Natalie Thomson, MS, LPC

Sessions

Couples sessions are 75 minutes.  Attending weekly at the beginning is encouraged because it tends to result in better outcomes.  

For some couples, including those with a history of trauma, therapy may take longer.  Factors that impact the speed of progress include: frequency of attendance, severity and duration of the relational issues, openness and honesty in the counseling process, and willingness to practice what is learned in counseling.