Can a Therapist See a Couple Individually?


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For many, remedy is a secure area; someplace they will say something and know that they received’t be judged. As a substitute, they’ll get assist unpacking their feelings, be taught wholesome coping abilities, and obtain sage recommendation from a educated psychological well being professional. In {couples} remedy, preserving that sense of security is simply as essential, as two (or extra individuals) work out how one can get susceptible and work by way of their points collectively.

Provided that it may be so tough to discover a therapist as of late (not to mention a great one), it’s tempting to contemplate double dipping if you happen to’re in {couples} remedy but in addition in search of particular person assist, or vice-versa. However can a therapist see a pair individually for one-on-one remedy?

Technically, sure. There’s no legislation towards your {couples} therapist doubling as your particular person therapist, says Dana M. Harris, LMFT, who treats people and {couples}. Nonetheless, “that is usually an moral battle,” Harris says. “Most of us are educated that this isn’t a greatest observe and there are many explanation why.”

That mentioned, there are some instances the place having your {couples} therapist additionally serving as your particular person therapist could also be useful. However there’s a whole lot of nuance round this matter to unpack—and explanation why therapists won’t be into the thought in any respect.

When a therapist mustn’t see {couples} individually for remedy

As Harris talked about, there are fairly just a few instances through which it wouldn’t be moral or advisable on your {couples} therapist to be your particular person therapist.

For instance, it’s a nasty concept when the therapist is barely seeing one particular person within the relationship (versus everybody concerned). “If a therapist is seeing one particular person from the couple individually, it may be laborious—at the same time as a therapist—to make it possible for they’re not biased,” says Harris. In any case, they’re listening to much more about one particular person than the opposite particular person or individuals within the relationship.

“If a therapist is seeing one particular person from the couple individually, it may be laborious—at the same time as a therapist—to make it possible for they’re not biased.” —Dana M. Harris, LMFT

And if it’s laborious for a licensed therapist to verify their biases, think about what it could be wish to the one that isn’t receiving particular person remedy from this supplier. “It’s laborious for the opposite particular person within the couple to actually imagine that the therapist isn’t taking sides,” Harris says, which could influence the end result or efficacy of the {couples} remedy periods. (For instance, you may be much less receptive to suggestions or workout routines steered by the therapist if you happen to really feel such as you’re not getting a good shake in the course of the group periods.)

There’s additionally a difficulty of confidentiality, says particular person and {couples} therapist Anthony Phillips, AMFT. “As therapists, we at all times adhere to a secrecy coverage, that means that no matter is talked about throughout particular person remedy has to remain in that session so far as the therapist is anxious.” When your therapist is treating you and the couple you’re in, it instantly challenges a therapists’ capacity to keep up that secrecy coverage, Phillips provides.

Additionally, we’d be remiss to not level out that when therapists are treating people, that singular particular person is their shopper. “However after we’re treating a pair, the connection is our shopper,” Harris says. What Harris means by that is that the therapist won’t deal with any session as one companion versus one other companion. Essentially, it’s all companions versus the argument, situation, battle—you get the purpose. This strategy helps stop individuals from experiencing perceived biases and retains them on the identical collaborative web page.

For all of those causes, not one of the therapists we spoke to deal with people separate from their {couples} counseling. “I’ve labored with {couples} who determine to cease remedy and I’ll proceed seeing one member of the couple as a person, however I make it possible for they perceive that we can not return to {couples} remedy as soon as that occurs,” says Harris, referencing the hazards of perceived biases.

Is it ever okay to get particular person remedy out of your {couples} therapist?

That mentioned, there are some situations the place it may be useful on your {couples} therapist to double as your private therapist. The commonest incidence for that is earlier than you totally decide to {couples} remedy, says intercourse therapist and licensed medical social employee Chanta Blue, LCSW.

“That is useful for the therapist as a result of we’re in a position to get a full background historical past of every particular person within the relationship,” Blue says. She provides that this will likely additionally present a chance for one companion to totally specific how they really feel with out worrying about hurting individuals’s emotions.

It may also be useful for people to individually get remedy from their {couples} counselor in the event that they’re having a tough time speaking of their {couples} session, says Phillips. “If the couple is unstable in session and so they do not do effectively speaking with one another, getting a narrative from each views may be useful if you convey it to {couples} remedy,” he says.

This therapeutic double-dipping might also be useful in ensuring that the targets of the couple and respective people are aligned, says Harris. Say that one of many individuals within the relationship is engaged on their defensiveness. “When that’s arising within the couple’s session, it is a lot simpler if the identical therapist is aware of that [and handles it in individual sessions],” she says.

TL;DR: You possibly can have the identical therapist for your self as you do for {couples} counseling—however you’d wish to make it possible for all the individuals within the relationship are seeing the therapist individually to be able to stop perceived biases.

And, bear in mind, if you and your companion(s) battle, it’s hardly you versus them. Essentially, it’s y’all versus the issue—so proceed accordingly.


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