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First Couples Therapy Session Explained

Couples therapy in Orange County

Most relationships at some point experience challenges. Life events such as health challenges, infidelity, and financial problems can stress or break a relationship. Even if there are no significant stressors in your relationship, many couples will experience communication challenges. When a couple feels they are unable to solve their problems on their own, one or both partners may decide to seek the help of an objective third party. It may be a mutual decision, or one partner in distress may seek help and ask the other to join. Whatever the situation, it is important for one or both parties to seek help early, and not wait until one or both partners are ready to leave the relationship. When you or your partner are having trouble communicating, managing conflict, stuck in negative patterns of interacting or become emotionally disconnected, it is time to get help.

A good, licensed couple’s psychologist like Dr. Susan Pazak will listen, respect, understand and facilitate better interaction between partners. Dr. Pazak can help the couple to examine perceptions and expectations that underlie discord and core issues.

When choosing the right couple’s therapist, it is important to know that a relationship therapist has trained for and developed specialized skills and expertise that will play a major role in the couple’s success. It is a good idea to ask specifically about a therapist’s education, training and expertise in couple’s therapy.

Dr. Pazak is a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in relationship counseling. She understands that healthy relationships require cultivation with care and effective communication.

Dr. Pazak will provide you with the tools, resources and techniques that allow you to take control of your relationship and to heal together. Her goal is to help you develop deeper connection, to support, and strengthen your relationship. Managing conflict, creating shared meaning, and a developing a positive perspective contribute to happiness and life satisfaction. Fulfilling relationships take time and commitment.

Dr. Pazak answers your questions about what to expect during your first therapy session. She will explain the research – based approaches that have been proven successful with couples and that she uses in her practice.

We will develop an agreed upon plan.  Rules of engagement will be identified. Homework or a thought-provoking assignment will be given such as name one to five things that you love about your partner or identify specific ways how you want to be loved by your partner.  Oftentimes we focus on what we don’t want in a relationship and lose sight of what we do want.

It is important that both partners are willing to participate in therapy. If one partner is not motivated or reluctant for whatever reason, it can hinder or thwart the therapeutic process. I generally recommend both people be willing to participate in therapy. If one of the partners has reservations or concerns, I offer a complimentary phone session to answer any questions they may have. I find this often puts people at ease if they can first talk with me before making an appointment. One partner may benefit from learning relationship skills that they can begin to apply to make changes from their perspective. Oftentimes it is better than doing nothing at all to improve the situation. A little love and effort can have a big impact on any relationship.

This is a common question. Every couple is different and has varying degrees of challenges they may be dealing with. If a couple is motivated and willing to do the work, they will finish therapy sooner than a couple who doesn’t do the work. I typically spend 45 to 90 minutes per week with each couple. During this time, I have my couples engage in the therapeutic process which involves learning new relationship skills, healthy communication, strategies to help couples heal, deepen their emotional connection, and learn to strengthen their relationship. I often have couples practice the skills and tools I give them during our session. If couples practice and do the work, they will have better relationships more quickly. Improvement in the relationship can be noticed in as little as a week if the work assigned is applied. A consistent, persistent effort to be better and do better in a relationship are keys to a successful outcome in couples therapy and coaching. Modifying behaviors, being mindful of words spoken and shifting the tone and the energy of the day-to-day interactions can happen as quickly as you desire. It’s not what we are capable of, it is what we are willing to do.

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Dr. Susan Pazak is a Clinical Psychologist licensed in California and a life coach offering elite concierge coaching services from a psychological perspective. With a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and PhD in Clinical Psychology, Dr. Pazak has a profound understanding of people after her many years of studying and observing human behavior that allows her to provide the most unique and extraordinary coaching experience in the world. Valued by her clients for her keen perspective, caring, logic and insight as being part of the amazing coaching experience.  She has navigated her accomplished, intelligent clients through the most difficult and tragic situations to a simple resolution and change.

At a Glance

Dr. Susan Pazak, MD

  • Bachelors, Masters and PhD in Clinical Psychology
  • Voted best psychologist in Laguna Niguel 3 years
  • Studied marital & sexual satisfaction in couples
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