A Research-Based Approach for Results
Grace Pacheco, M.A., MFT
My approach to couple's therapy predominantly uses techniques from the work of Sue Johnson's Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT) that works with past relationship traumas, disrupts negative interaction cycles, and utilizes conflict to create deep bonding experiences in the therapy roo
EFT is a short term (8-20 sessions) structured approach to couples therapy and has been validated by over 20 years of empirical research. Nearly 70-75% of couples move from distress to recovery and approximately 90% show significant improvements.
I typically spend the first session helping couples untwist and break-down the problem, set up measurable goals, and develop a plan together to eliminate the initial problem(s). This plan assists me with my road map to improve relationship functioning, and help you both to know when couple's therapy has come to an end.
Your Commitment to 12 Consecutive Sessions & to Each Other
Many couples feel positive and hopeful after the first session or two, and decide that they can take it from there. This is not a band-aid, and they often return, explaining that the good feeling didn't last or that therapy didn't work. Couple's therapy sessions are recommended once per week, for at least 12 consecutive weeks, to see a lasting and long-term change of negative behaviors within a relationship. Of course, results vary by couple and circumstances, but this particular number has been studied repeatedly, and published in my profession.
1. Both of you must want to stay in your relationship because you want to be with the other person. You are unlikely to have success if you want to stay in your relationship due to children, religion, finances, property, etc.
2. Both of you must be willing to put in 100% effort in session and outside of session and are 100% committed to your partner
Grace Guides a Dysfunctional Couple
The Nature of Couples Therapy
An effective couples therapist does not take sides, yet may challenge you, hold you accountable, or “call out" a client on unhealthy or harmful behavior(s). Your partner may upset you, trigger you of past traumatic experiences, or provoke strong emotional reactions. Couples therapy can be emotionally triggering, intense, and stressful. Because of the highly sensitive nature of the topics at hand, clients may feel hurt by their partner, overwhelmed, or even angry.
Sometimes, the conclusion of couples therapy may be that it is best to separate permanently. It is important to work with your therapist to create a way to manage your emotions during the process. Any individual mental health issues should be addressed before beginning couples work.
When Couples Therapy May Not Be Appropriate
Couples therapy is not appropriate for everyone, and in some cases, is highly discouraged. If domestic violence is occurring now, or it occurs within your relationship during the course of therapy, services will be terminated, and referrals will only be offered for individual treatment. Please note that couples therapy is not recommended for couples with active domestic violence. East Bay Area Therapy reserves the right to terminate services abruptly.
Forms of domestic violence can include any of the following, and please note that this is a non-exhaustive list:
1. Physical abuse: hitting, shoving, kicking, choking, biting, hair-pulling, or forced ingestion of drugs or alcohol
2. Sexual violence: forced or coerced sex acts, use of anger or intimidation to control sexual activity, uncomfortable sexual acts, or sexually demeaning treatment
3. Emotional or verbal abuse: put-downs, name-calling, blaming, criticism, or other efforts to diminish a person’s self-worth
4. Psychological abuse: manipulation and control of one's partner via threats of physical violence toward one's partner, family member, pets, or friends, threats of suicide or self-harm, justifying acts via blaming the other, public humiliation
5. Financial abuse: controlling a partner’s finances, stealing financial assets, or restricting access to financial resources, prevention from gaining or maintaining employment
6. Social control: Keeping a partner from socializing, maintaining normal friendships or communication with family members, or preventing one's partner from going to work or school
7. The use of children in any way, shape, or form, to gain power or control over one's partner