An Expert Guide to Healing from Trauma

An Expert Guide to Healing from Trauma

Even though it’s only five letters, trauma is a very big word. That’s because there are many different types of trauma that you can experience and the effects of trauma can last a lifetime. Trauma is something that can occur regardless of your gender, age, race, ethnicity, or social status, and healing from trauma isn’t the same from person to person.

In other words, if you are reading this, it’s possible that you have experienced some type of trauma in your life. Healing from trauma is a complicated process, but the first step in healing is recognizing that you need help.

Many trauma survivors are unaware that they have experienced a traumatic event. This is because as humans, we have a tendency to downplay the hard things that happen to us. It’s also because dysfunctional family systems are set up to downplay and normalize bad behavior, which leads to people in those families being unaware of how damaging some of the things that happen are. 

You may need to heal from trauma if something has happened to you and you just can’t stop thinking about it, or if you are having nightmares about an event that you try not to think about. You also may need to heal from trauma if you consistently have challenging relationships, whether they be romantic, family, friendships, or work relationships. 

If you have experienced any type of trauma, it is likely to affect all areas of your life, including your close relationships. Fortunately, therapy for trauma is very effective, and can help you uncover light in an otherwise dark situation.     

Keep reading to learn more about what trauma is, the stages of healing from trauma and how online therapy for trauma can help.

Healing from Trauma: Understanding What Trauma Is

Before we talk more about how to heal from trauma, let’s take a look at what trauma really is.

Trauma is defined as a person’s response to an incredibly stressful event. The stressful event could be life threatening, or the person could simply feel that his or her safety was at risk. The actual severity of the event is less important than how the person experienced it.

Some examples of events that can cause trauma include rape, accidents, natural disasters, and unexpected losses. When trauma happens in childhood, it can affect you even more severely because it happens while you are developing your sense of self. This means that your ability to keep yourself safe isn’t fully developed yet, which can make healing from childhood trauma that much more complicated.  

Types Of Trauma

There are three major types of trauma that psychologists study:

  • Acute Trauma – Occurs after a single event
  • Chronic Trauma – Is repeated and prolonged (think domestic violence)
  • Complex Trauma – Exposure to varied and multiple traumatic events

Although all types of trauma can affect relationships, childhood trauma, which is often chronic or complex, tends to get played out in the conflicts that you and your partner experience. Let’s look a little closer at how childhood trauma affects your relationship with your partner, and how you can heal from it.

A couple sits on a couch and fights about healing from trauma

How Trauma Affects Relationships

The hardships you experience as a child can impact almost every facet of your adult life, from the way you feel and behave in relationships to the way you manage your finances, choose to take risks (or avoid them) and the way you interact with your children.

Let’s say you were abandoned or neglected by one or both of your parents when you were a child. This could lead you to feel worthless and unlovable because kids tend to blame themselves for the mistakes that their parents make. Now, let’s fast forward 20-30 years, and say that you are married to a man who has to travel for work. 

Every time your partner is getting ready to leave for another trip, you find yourself starting an argument with him, but you can’t figure out why. You don’t even realize you are doing it until after he’s left and you just feel awful. 

What could be going on here?

Basically, your childhood trauma is affecting your current relationship. You were left when you were a child, and when your husband leaves, your old feelings of abandonment become activated. Although this is very unpleasant to experience, it’s actually happening to give you a chance to heal from your childhood trauma.

You see, your unconscious mind really wants you to heal from what happened to you as a child. That’s why it is bringing up these feelings; to give you a chance to correct what happened to you when you were little.

Healing From Trauma And Relationship Conflict

Healing from trauma and relationship conflict is messy because most of the conflicts that you are having with your partner aren’t really about what they seem to be about. You think that you are fighting about who forgot to start the dishwasher, but that’s actually code for “You don’t care about me.” This is where working with a qualified relationship trauma therapist can be really helpful, because we can help you decipher what’s truly going on.  

Stages of Healing from Trauma

So, how do you know that you are healing from trauma? What might healing from trauma actually look like?

As you might have expected, healing from trauma happens in stages, and like any healing process these stages are not necessarily in order. In fact, you might even skip some of the stages entirely. 

Sometimes you can think that you have worked through a particular stage of healing, only to find that an anniversary or other triggering event brings you back to where you were before. I like to tell my clients that healing isn’t a straight line, but instead it’s more like a sphere. You may feel like you are going around in circles, but you are actually still making progress.

The stages of healing from trauma are very similar to the stages of healing from grief. These stages include:

Denial

Immediately after a trauma occurs, your mind and your body go into shock. You lose your sense of feeling, and you feel numb to what has occured. If someone were to ask you about your traumatic experience, you would not be able to describe how you felt about it. You would probably say it was no big deal.

Anger

Once feeling returns to your body and your mind, the first thing that you will probably feel about what happened to you is anger. Anger is one of the easiest emotions for us to feel because it doesn’t make us feel as vulnerable as other emotions, like sadness or hurt. 

During the anger phase, you want to lash out and you might have a hard time controlling your impulses. Many people resort to drugs, food, sex, or other numbing activities during this phase.

Bargaining

During the bargaining phase of healing from trauma, you try to find a way out of the recovery process. Sometimes, this involves promising God that you will (insert perfect behavior here) if he will just make the pain go away. 

Other times, bargaining can be closely related to guilt, in that you might start finding ways to blame yourself for what happened. “If only I had done my homework, my father wouldn’t have left.” Either way, bargaining is a way to stall feeling your very painful feelings about your childhood trauma.

Sadness

Once you have progressed past anger and bargaining, you will likely feel sadness or depression. During this phase, you might find it hard to get out of bed, or take care of your basic needs. Friends and family might express concern for you at this time, because unlike in the anger phase, you will probably isolate yourself from others. 

Acceptance

During the acceptance phase of healing, you begin to feel that you are going to be okay again. You still won’t like what happened to you, but you will start to see it from a new perspective. 

One of the signs you are healing from trauma could include feeling like a stronger person because of what you’ve been through. Going to therapy for trauma can help you come to these new understandings.

A man sits on the edge of a bed with his head in his hands while working to heal from trauma

What to Do if Your Partner is Healing From Trauma

If your partner is healing from trauma, whether it be past relationship trauma, childhood trauma, or healing from a traumatic event, there are some things that you can do to support him.

First, it’s important that you believe what your partner is telling you. Research has consistently shown that recovery is much easier for trauma survivors who are believed, than for those who are not. Whether you are the first person that your partner has told, or whether she has talked about her trauma for years, it’s very important that you believe what she is saying.

When you are listening to your partner talk about his trauma, don’t blame him for what happened! We call this “blaming the victim,” and it’s never helpful. 

For example, don’t say, “well, you are so annoying. I can see why your mother hit you!” Instead, try to be patient and understanding. Realize that your partner went through something awful, and try to respect his experience. 

Try not to take it personally when he becomes upset by something triggering, and realize that you cannot cure his trauma. You did not cause it, and you can’t cure it. 

Being a good listener goes a long way, but it’s often not enough when recovering from emotional trauma. If you or your partner is navigating trauma in relationships, it might be time to consider couples therapy or other online therapy for trauma recovery.

Online Therapy for Trauma

Online therapy for trauma recovery is a wonderful option to help you heal from trauma. Just like there are different types of trauma, there are different types of therapy for trauma too. Some of the common types include:

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a behavior therapy. Therapists work with their patients to identify negative behaviors and ways of thinking that are impacting their lives, and seek to replace negative behaviors with positive ones.

Cognitive Processing Therapy

Cognitive processing therapy teaches patients new, positive ways to address beliefs and emotions shaped by traumatic experiences. This practice can help patients identify limiting beliefs and beliefs about relationships that have been impacted by their trauma.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR therapy has patients focus on their trauma during visual stimulation. The visual stimulation helps to reduce the emotional reaction to past traumas, allowing the brain to reprocess trauma with more positive and accepting beliefs. This type of trauma therapy can even be done virtually.

No matter what kind of therapy you choose, working with a trauma-informed therapist can help ensure you get the expert support you need to finally heal from trauma.

A woman works with a trauma-informed therapist on the computer to heal from trauma

How Long Does It Take to Heal from Trauma?

Like a lot of things when it comes to our mental health, healing from trauma isn’t always a straight path. You might feel like you have moved past your trauma, only to be thrown right back into it by the anniversary of a traumatic event, a similar experience or even a specific conflict in your relationship.

If you’ve been struggling to heal from trauma for a long time, the path to healing may be long as well. Recovering from emotional trauma in your childhood, for example, often takes more therapy to uncover, identify and re-process the related negative behaviors and ways of thinking.

Trauma is a complex issue, but there is hope! Both you, and your relationship can heal from trauma, and maybe even come out stronger for it.

If you’re ready to start healing from trauma and want to better understand how your trauma – or your partner’s trauma – is affecting your current relationship, then contact Couples Learn today.

Our trauma-informed therapists offer online therapy for individuals and couples, including online EMDR therapy. Virtual therapy is a great way to work on healing your trauma, yourself and your relationship.

Contact us to book a 30-minute consultation and get started today.

Navigating Different Values in A Relationship

Navigating Different Values in A Relationship

Between contentious political elections, a global pandemic, major Supreme Court decisions and evolving social justice issues…there’s a lot to disagree on these days. If the last few years have brought to light different values in a relationship, you’re not alone.

It’s hard enough when you don’t agree with your partner on where to go out to dinner or how to spend your money. But what do you do when you’re married to or dating someone with different values?

Whether you have different religious, political or moral views than your partner, it can be a point of major conflict. So can a relationship work if you have different values? (Short answer: yes. If both parties are willing to communicate, listen and work together.)

Keep reading to learn what to do when values conflict.

Can a relationship work if you have different values?

When you and your partner disagree on a big life decision or a core value, it can feel like your relationship is doomed. But it is possible to have a happy, loving relationship even if you do have some different views.

Like anything in relationships, however, the success of your partnership will depend on how you handle a difference in opinion.

The first thing to consider is why having different values in a relationship is causing conflict for you and your partner. 

Are you disagreeing on political or religious views and simply want the other person to agree? Or do you have different viewpoints on a deeply personal subject such as abortion or LGBTQ rights? 

In other words, is there an opportunity to “agree to disagree,” or are you disagreeing on something that significantly impacts the way you want to live your life (and who you want to live it with)?

There are many couples who experience different values in a relationship. Once you get clear on why this difference of opinion is causing conflict, it becomes easier to discuss and (hopefully) solve the problem.

How do you handle different values in a relationship?

Managing different values in a relationship all comes down to communication. There are plenty of long-lasting couples with different political views or couples with different religious beliefs. 

If you can communicate – and disagree – respectfully, you can give your relationship a fighting chance to make it through.

Communicate your point of view – and listen to theirs.

The first step toward discussing important values in relationships is to have an actual conversation. This doesn’t mean having yet another yelling match after watching the news. It means sitting down, sharing your perspective and genuinely trying to understand your partner’s point of view.

Try to get to the heart of why your partner’s point of view makes sense to them. Remember, we all have different worldviews shaped by how we grew up, the influences we have as children and adults, our education and past experiences. 

Childhood affects adult relationships in so many ways! Just because someone has different values from you, doesn’t necessarily mean that they are wrong (and vice versa).

A couple yells at each other in a kitchen about having different values in a relationship

Learn to fight fairly

Having different values in a relationship isn’t easy. And discussing those views is bound to bring up conflict (that is why you’re reading this, right?!). So it’s important that you learn to fight fairly – even when you’re really fired up.

Fighting can even help you feel more connected to your partner if you do it well because it can help each person feel heard. While you may never come to a compromise or see eye to eye on your political, religious or moral disagreements, you can ensure that the fights themselves aren’t what leads to the end of your relationship.

Some simple tips to fight fairly include:

  • Pause: If you can feel your blood boiling, it’s best to take a break and take a few breaths before continuing your conversation. Communicate with your partner that you need a few minutes (or longer) to cool off and make a plan to continue the conversation at a certain time.
  • Focus on the issue at hand: Try to avoid letting a fight about one issue spiral into a blow-up about every conflict you’ve ever had. It’s easier said than done but it won’t help either of you to bring up past hurts that aren’t involved in your disagreement.
  • Don’t speak in absolutes: It’s unlikely your partner “always” tries to argue with you or “never” tries to see your point of view. Try not to use that kind of language, and remind your partner to avoid it as well.
  • Speak in “I” phrases: The easiest way to avoid accusations and placing blame is by focusing on how you feel. Instead of “you always bring this up” try “I feel like we end up discussing this a lot.”
  • Be kind: You may never agree with your partner’s point of view. But having different values in a relationship is not an excuse for name-calling or mistreatment. Speak kindly to each other, even when fighting.

Determine your deal breakers

So far we’ve been looking for ways to discuss and come to terms with different values in a relationship. But there may be times when this just isn’t possible. Some important values in a relationship are so important they will make or break the partnership.

The key here is to determine what your deal breakers are. For example, you might be OK disagreeing about which political candidate to vote for (even if it does lead to impassioned arguments). You may not be OK, however, being with someone who disagrees on a social issue that impacts your life, such as abortion or LGBTQ rights.

The sooner you can decide what core values in a relationship you want to share with your partner, the sooner you can figure out your next steps.

A couple sits along a river and talks about their different values in relationships

How do I talk to my partner about values?

If you’ve been with your partner for more than a few weeks, chances are you may have already had a few discussions about your beliefs, views and values. But if it hasn’t come up – or if you’ve been avoiding these talks altogether – then there’s no time like the present to start a conversation.

It may not be easy to talk about potentially contentious topics, but it’s a heck of a lot easier to do it when you’re dating someone with different values than when you’re married or having kids with them!

So, how can you start a conversation? The best place to start is by listing out your deal breakers, values and big life decisions that you have strong opinions about.

Some common ones include:

  • Politics 
  • Religion
  • Morals
  • Kids (to have or not to have, that is the question!)
  • How to raise kids
  • Where you want to live
  • How you handle money
  • Careers

Remember to talk respectfully about these topics, and to do your best to truly listen and understand where your partner is coming from. This doesn’t mean you need to change your mind, but it does mean at least trying to see things from your partner’s perspective.

If you’re preparing for marriage, an online premarital counselor can help you and your partner talk through these important discussions before the big day and build key communication skills for future conflicts.

Need more help managing different values in a relationship?

If you’re in a relationship with different values, you may be conflicted about whether to stick it out or cut and run. If you’ve tried to work it out on your own and are still struggling, it may be time to call in a professional.

An online couples therapist can help you and your partner discuss your differences more effectively, and can help you each identify how your childhood, past experiences and worldviews impact your values. A therapist can also help you work together to determine if you want to stay in your relationship, or if your difference in values is enough to call it quits. 

Whatever you decide, working with a couples therapist can help you and your partner navigate your emotions about the situation. If you’re ready to get help with different values in a relationship, contact Couples Learn to explore our online couples therapy services or book a free 30-minute consultation to get started.

Want to read more about this subject? Check out Couples Learn founder Dr. Sarah Schewitz featured in a recent Washington Post article.

The Real Reasons (That Nobody Tells You) About Why Therapists Don’t Accept Insurance

The Real Reasons (That Nobody Tells You) About Why Therapists Don’t Accept Insurance

When you’re thinking about starting therapy, it’s normal to have a lot of questions: What style of therapy is right for me? How do I choose a therapist? Do therapists take insurance?

Deciding to start therapy is a huge milestone in life. I’d even say it’s as big as getting married or starting a new job. I mean, think about it. What could be more important than committing to work on yourself and become the best version of yourself? Who you are and who you become influence every part of your life.

That’s why choosing the right therapist is SO important. It’s essential you and your therapist are a good fit and that the person you choose has the experience and expertise to get you to the next level in life, whether you’re working on career goals, relationships, self-exploration or all of the above.

One of the considerations you might take into account when looking for a therapist is whether that therapist accepts your insurance. 

So, Do Therapists Take Insurance?

For many people, whether or not a therapist takes insurance is a deciding factor when choosing someone to work with.

After all, you’re paying a premium every month for your insurance so why wouldn’t you want to use it? It can save you money on your session costs and it can help you narrow down your search by ruling out therapists who don’t accept your plan. You use your insurance for all other doctors so why not do the same for therapy, right?

Unfortunately, new therapy seekers with this belief are often confused and frustrated by the number of therapists they find that do not accept insurance. It can be really difficult to find someone that specializes in your area of need, is close to home, fits your personality, and accepts your insurance.

But why is it so hard? Why don’t therapists take insurance? 

Many consumers don’t realize that there are several downsides for both therapists and clients when using insurance to pay for therapy.

So what do private pay clients who are shelling out big bucks for therapy know that you don’t? Let’s dig deeper into the question, “do therapists take insurance?” and figure out why many don’t.

Two women sit in an office talking about do therapists take insurance

Here are 4 reasons why you should not use insurance to pay for therapy:

1. Less Confidentiality

Everyone knows that what happens in therapy stays in therapy. Your therapist is required to keep everything you say confidential no matter what, right? 

Wrong! When you use insurance to pay for therapy, your therapist is required to provide your diagnosis and treatment notes to your insurance company in order to get paid. This undermines the basic premise of therapy and also gives a lot more people access to private health information about you. 

If this is news to you, you’re not alone. It’s all written into the HIPAA document you get when you start therapy (or go to any doctor’s office) but most people don’t read all the fine print.

2. Higher Insurance Premiums

Even if you’re okay with your information being shared with your insurance company from a confidentiality standpoint, you probably didn’t realize that sharing this information can have unintended consequences in the future.

As mentioned above, your therapist has to provide your insurance company with your diagnosis to get paid. But what if you don’t have a mental illness? After all, many people seek therapy for personal growth and exploration, not because they are depressed or anxious or have a serious mental illness.

In the eyes of your insurance company, these are not valid reasons for seeking therapy on their dime. If you don’t have an actual diagnosis, they aren’t interested in paying for your sessions and will not continue to authorize future sessions.

This puts your therapist in an awkward and ethically challenging position if you don’t meet the criteria for a mental illness. 

How do therapists get paid by insurance? 

If you don’t have a diagnosis, he or she is left with choosing between 3 options.

  1.  Assign a diagnosis you don’t meet the criteria for so that your insurance company will continue authorizing sessions.
  2.  Discontinue therapy.
  3.  Continue to work with you without assigning a diagnosis but risk having claims denied and not getting paid for the work.
A man and woman sit and talk to a therapist after answering the question, "do therapists take insurance"

At this point, you are probably starting to understand why so many therapists don’t accept insurance.

Ok, so you might be wondering how this all relates to increased premiums for you.

Let’s say your therapist opts for option 1 and assigns you a diagnosis so that your insurance company will authorize future sessions. Maybe you meet criteria for a diagnosis, maybe you don’t. Either way, you now have a diagnosis on record with your insurance company.

When it comes time to renew your insurance or switch plans, your premiums could rise as a result of your “pre-existing condition.” In addition, you may be required to share your diagnosis in future job interviews, which is awkward, to say the least. I would like to add that it’s rare to have to disclose something like that for a job but it can happen in security, government, and some other professions.

3. Insurance-Driven Treatment Plan

When therapists take insurance, they are required to use treatment methods that are covered by your plan. This means they have less say in how to treat you based on your specific and individual needs. 

Ironically, the people who work in your insurance company and decide which methods of therapy can be used, are usually not even therapists! And they certainly haven’t met and assessed you personally like your therapist has.

This leads me to my next point…

4. Questionable Quality

Do therapists take insurance because they can’t build their practice otherwise? Possibly.

Let me preface this by saying that there are some fantastic therapists who take insurance. Sometimes highly skilled therapists accept insurance clients as a way to “give back” to society and offer high-quality services to those that wouldn’t be able to afford it any other way. 

If you don’t know anything about insurance payouts (and why would you if you’re not a therapist or a doctor?), this last statement probably doesn’t make sense. Bear with me while I help clear that up and give you some rarely discussed insider info from the therapist’s perspective.

The going rate for a great therapist in most major cities is between $150-$350 per session. Most insurance companies pay therapists between $40-$90 per session. This is a fraction of what therapists receive from private pay clients and it requires a lot more paperwork and time to get paid by insurance companies. Submitting insurance claims is time-consuming and confusing as is getting approved to be on insurance panels in the first place. Many therapists have to hire a billing professional to help them manage insurance claims and make sure they actually get paid.

So why do therapists take insurance if they get paid less and have to jump through paperwork hoops to get paid?

The answer is because they have to. Let’s explore this in more detail…

a man's hand writes on a white paper on a black clipboard while answering the question, "do therapists take insurance?"

Do Therapists Take Insurance Because They Have To?

Something that is rarely discussed with consumers is the fact that insurance companies provide a steady flow of referrals to therapists. Let’s take a moment to think about who might need a steady flow of referrals to their practice and would be willing to take a major pay cut for said referrals.

New therapists just starting a private practice. 

Therapists who just graduated usually have some serious student loans to pay off and they need to start making money fast. It can take time to build up a positive reputation in a community so getting referrals from insurance panels (even if it means making significantly less per client) is a great way to get started. 

Often, therapists who opt for this route will start phasing out insurance clients as their reputation grows and they start getting more organic referrals from satisfied customers.

Therapists who don’t want to market themselves.

Sometimes therapists get and stay on insurance panels for the bulk of their career because they prefer the safety of knowing they will always have referrals. Perhaps they don’t know how to market themselves, don’t want to invest in marketing, or are risk-averse and can’t or don’t want to risk having fewer clients when they are getting started as private pay.

Working with insurance long-term is more likely to lead a therapist to burnout because they are doing double the work for half the pay. There is a higher chance that this therapist will be overworked and less passionate about their work as a result.

Therapists in low-income areas. 

If there are very few clients that can pay full price for sessions in the area, therapists in private practice may opt to accept insurance or move to a community where there are more affluent people. For this reason, lower-income communities do not have a lot of therapists in private practice but they do have more government-subsidized community treatment centers where people can get help. 

This is a sad truth about the systemic issues and barriers that limit low- to moderate-income folks when seeking mental health care. If insurance companies paid therapists rates commensurate with the amount they have to spend on their education, many more therapists would opt to be in-network and many more people would have easily affordable therapy.

Therapists who do not have a lot of satisfied customers. 

As a therapist myself, this is a delicate situation for me to discuss and I suspect it will upset some of my colleagues. That said, the ones it offends are probably the ones who fall into this category. Many therapists who accept insurance do so because they are not good enough at what they do to facilitate referrals and command a higher fee.

Yep, I said it.

Satisfied customers talk. They leave positive reviews online. And tell their friends and family how happy they are with their therapist and they refer the people they love. They build their therapist’s practice for them by becoming walking billboards. Their friends and family start to notice positive changes in their personality and ask them what they are doing…and they tell them about their therapist.

Not only do satisfied customers refer to skilled therapists, other professionals do too. Medical doctors hear from their patients that they got great results working with a therapist and they send more patients. Other therapists who get asked by friends and family for referrals, send them to other skilled therapists in the community.

Why Therapists Don’t Take Insurance (And Why You Should Pay Them Anyway)

Therapists who don’t take insurance have to be really good in order to create and maintain a thriving practice. With therapy, you usually get what you pay for and if someone is charging a high fee, it’s usually because they are worth it.

Speaking of that price tag, I know it can feel scary to drop a couple of hundred dollars on a therapy session every week, especially if you don’t have a ton of disposable income. 

So, are therapists worth it?

What I’ve seen in my practice (and in many other settings besides therapy) is that those who pay the full fee and make a substantial investment, are actually more committed to doing the work than those who pay less.

Think about it. If you paid $20 for a meal or $200, would there be a difference in how you treated it? Would you rush through the $200 meal and then throw half of it away if you didn’t feel like eating anymore? I’m guessing not. You would savor that meal and ask to take anything you couldn’t eat home with you to enjoy later.

People who pay more for therapy are literally and figuratively more invested and it shows in their results. They make the most of every session, they do their homework, and they get great results. 

In my opinion, there is nothing worth more than your personal growth. If you take the work seriously, you will see your investment pay off in every area of your life. 

By the way, this is coming from someone who has spent a lot of money on personal growth. I truly feel it’s been worth every penny.

Two women sit and talk in chairs in front of a brick wall, enjoying a therapist session after determining, "do therapists take insurance?"

What to Do When Therapy Doesn’t Take Insurance

Ok, but what if you literally CANNOT afford to pay the full fee but you also want to make sure you get a great therapist? Fortunately, there is sometimes an in-between option.

Depending on your insurance, you may be able to get reimbursed for out-of-network benefits. This can mean savings of up to 20-60%. This is typically available with PPO plans. To find out, call the number on the back of your insurance card and ask how much your plan pays for out-of-network therapists.

Then, if you do have out-of-network benefits, ask your therapist if they can provide a superbill for you to submit to your insurance for reimbursement. You will pay your therapist for the sessions up front. Then, your insurance company will reimburse you for some of the session fees. 

Your therapist will still have to provide a diagnosis on your superbill in order for you to get reimbursed. Not every insurance plan has this benefit but it’s definitely worth a phone call to ask!

The other option is that you can use your health savings account (HSA) or flexible spending account (FSA) to pay for therapy. This allows you to save money because you are paying with pre-tax dollars.

Finding The Right Therapist for You

So there you have it. That is the good, the bad, and the ugly of using your insurance to pay for therapy as I see it.

Still not sure how to find the therapist that is right for you? Consider your mental health needs and your schedule to determine if a specific type of therapy might work best. For example, virtual therapy or couples therapy might be an option.

Do online therapists take insurance?

It depends. Just like in-person therapy work, online therapists have to go through many steps to accept insurance as payment for their services. Finding an online therapist will be unlikely to affect how much you pay for therapy. It can help make it more accessible.

Do couples therapists take insurance?

Some do! Just like individual therapists, there are many couples therapists who accept insurance and many who do not. While it’s very valid for cost to be a factor when choosing a therapist, when it comes to couples therapy the most important thing is to make sure your therapist has experience helping couples through the challenges you and your partner are facing. It’s also important to ensure both you and your partner feel comfortable with the therapist you choose.

Explore online therapy with Couples Learn

Still have questions? We’d love to hear from you. You can contact Couples Learn at any time to ask questions or book a free consultation.

Have you used insurance to pay for therapy in the past? If so, how did it go for you? Let us know in the comments on this Facebook post.

10 Tips for Mind Blowing Sex

10 Tips for Mind Blowing Sex

At some point or another, the topic of sex always (ahem) comes up when I work with couples. It’s common to discuss better sex tips for couples in my sessions. Sex is a very important part of a healthy relationship and when it isn’t working right for both partners, problems can… arise. 

Interestingly, some studies even suggest that, regardless of the kinds of emotional problems troubling a couple, having good sex can increase their level of satisfaction with the relationship. It really can be that important!

So, in the interest of increasing satisfaction everywhere, let’s explore some top 10 sex tips for couples. Here’s to a better sex life!

A couple snuggles in bed after learning better sex tips for couples

10 Better Sex Tips for Couples You Can Try (Like Even Tonight)

Tips for mind-blowing sex don’t have to involve complicated positions (or complicated anything). Sometimes better sex tips are as simple as changing your mindset.

  1. Love Yourself

Your body is a temple. Love it and treat it right. Talk positively about your body. Don’t focus on your perceived flaws. Instead, focus on what you love about the skin that you’re in. Need some help in this department? My friend Lauren McAulay is an amazing self-love and body love coach. Check her out! 

  1. Know Yourself

Learn about your body. Discover what turns you on and be willing to communicate that to your partner. Explore your likes and dislikes by touching every part of your body and seeing what feels good. You may be surprised at how sensitive different areas of your body can be.

  1. Drop Judgments

Nothing ruins good sex like judgments. Leave the old beliefs in the past and see sex for what it is; a beautiful way for two people to connect with one another. Look at it this way; the better sex you have, the happier you will be. And the happier you are, the nicer you will be to others. So, really, having great sex is an act of service to humanity! Who could judge that?

  1. Banish Myths

Using porn as a measure of good sex is unrealistic, as is the idea that the absence of multiple orgasms means trouble. In fact, porn can be really detrimental to a relationship if used in the wrong way. Check out this presentation by my friend Greg Woodhill, MFT to learn about the benefits and drawbacks of porn. It’s important to know that good sex can mean anything from a satisfying quickie to a full night of romance. Don’t get too hung up on how things “should” be. Instead, focus on what feels right to you and your partner.

  1. Be Present

Stay in the moment and enjoy each sensation – this may be the most important of all the better sex tips for couples. Hold eye contact and focus on your breath as a tool to help you stay in your body. If outside thoughts interrupt you, just watch them pass, and then get back to the action. If you are having trouble staying in the moment, pretend you are an announcer at a sports game and run the play-by-play of what is happening in your mind. “And now he is kissing my neck…oh that feels so good. And now he is moving lower with his mouth…” You get the idea 😉

  1. Fantasize

Share your fantasies with your partner. Do you have a thing for guys dressed as Elvis? Tell him! Whatever it is, allow yourself to be vulnerable and share your desires. Have fun with it!

  1. Role Play

Pretend that you are his new professor or he is your waiter. Pick new roles to try and watch the sparks fly. Having a chance to play and pretend can do wonders for your creative self.

  1. Explore

Try a new position or a new destination. Or add in a new toy that you both will enjoy. Shake things up to avoid falling into a rut. Drive out to a scenic point and do it in the car. Or go camping and make love under the stars. Google different positions and try them out. You may even find a new favorite.

  1. Try Having Your Eyes Wide Shut

Experiment with a blindfold. This will not only increase the alertness of your other senses but it will also be a trust-building exercise. Plus, it’s a great way to play into the art of anticipation.

  1. Get Your Game On

What better way is there to remember that sex is supposed to be fun than to make a game out of it? Try incorporating strip poker or twister into your sexual repertoire. That way, no matter who loses, you both win!  

A couple lays in bed smiling at each other after trying some better sex tips for couples

Still Struggling With Your Sex Life?

If you’ve tried these better sex tips for couples without success or realize you need some professional help to have a better sex life, it might be time to consider online therapy.

Both couples therapy and individual therapy for relationship issues can help get to the root of any sex problems in your relationship. 

If you’re ready to learn more about ways to improve your sexual relationship, contact Couples Learn today. We’re here to help!

Want A Healthy Relationship? Learn To Dump Your Assumptions!

Want A Healthy Relationship? Learn To Dump Your Assumptions!

As a couple’s therapist, one of the things that always amazes me is how two different people can experience the same situation in completely unrelated ways. It’s one of the reasons assumptions in relationships can be so damaging.

When I ask a couple to tell me about something that happened, sometimes it seems impossible that both partners were at the same event, given the opposite nature of their stories. This reminds me that so much of what we experience comes from our own viewpoint, made up of our unique thoughts and feelings, which, in turn, color our world.

When it comes to thoughts that can wreak havoc in even healthy relationships, assumptions are a big one. 

What Is An Assumption?

An assumption is a belief that one person thinks is true but really has not been proven. We make assumptions all the time. When we meet someone new, our first impression of that person is a series of assumptions we form based on her appearance. How is she dressed? Does she make eye contact? Did she smile? It only takes a minute for our brains to answer these questions and form opinions.

Assumptions In relationships work much the same way. Say, for example, your partner tells you he’ll be working late one night. What is your first thought? If you grew up in a family where “working late,” was code for being unfaithful, then you might assume that your partner is lying. 

Even if he hasn’t given you any prior reason not to trust him, you still might assume the worst, because of your own past and the assumptions you created as a result. Do you see how this could ruin a perfectly good relationship?

A couple yelling at each other in a kitchen, arguing due to assumptions in relationships

Managing Assumptions in Relationships

In order to manage your assumptions in relationships and prevent them from ruining your partnership, you need to be willing to take a good look at your own beliefs. 

Where do they come from? How are they helping or hurting you? Do they hold up to questioning? What is the evidence that supports that belief? The evidence against it? Could there be another way of looking at things or an alternate explanation? 

By asking yourself these questions, you can better understand your personal assumptions and the effect that they are having on your relationship.

Now that you are aware that some of your beliefs may not be true, I’m going to tell you something that will make you feel better. Your partner’s beliefs are no better!

Both you and your partner are likely making assumptions about the other and the world in general. What seems like “the” answer or “the” situation to you, is just one of many viewpoints on the same situation. Thus, the best thing to do is to make it a habit to check in with each other to be sure that you are not making assumptions in relationships.

How to Know When Assumptions in Relationships Are Causing Problems

It may seem straightforward to check in with your partner about assumptions each of you may have in your relationship, but actually doing this is easier said than done.

For example, how do you know when it’s time to check-in? Do you set a weekly reminder to ask about assumptions? Or do you wait until you’re in a full-blown argument?

In reality, somewhere in between those two extremes is usually a good solution.

Anytime that you and your partner are having an argument where something doesn’t quite click or where his reaction to what you said seems really off, it’s probably a good time to ask him what he is thinking or whether he may be reacting based on an assumption (in a nice, non-threatening tone, of course).

For example, if you tell your significant other that you want to go to the mall and he responds by immediately faking the flu, you might want to look into that a little further. 

You could say something like: “It seems that what I said is having an effect on you. Could you tell me what you think I meant?” He might then say, “I know what going to “The Mall” means. You want me to buy you a ring!”

Well, now you know why he was faking the flu, but, clearly, the two of you have some other issues to discuss!

two women argue due to assumptions in relationships

Common Questions About Assumptions in Relationships

How do assumptions affect relationships?

As you can see in the example above, making assumptions in a relationship can really hinder your ability to communicate and connect with your partner. Making assumptions can lead to not only misunderstandings and arguments, but can even cause enough harm to end a relationship.

How would you react if it felt like your partner was always assuming the worst about you? You probably wouldn’t feel particularly connected or loving with them.

What causes assumptions in a relationship?

Many times, what causes assumptions in relationships is past experiences, either with your current partner or with past partners. If you were cheated on in a past relationship, for example, you might assume your partner is being unfaithful if they stay late at work or aren’t totally forthcoming about their weekend plans. For all you know, they’re planning you a surprise party! But if you accuse them of cheating every time they’re away, they likely won’t be in a very party-ready mood.

How do you stop relationship assumptions?

The best way to put a stop to assumptions in relationships is to communicate, communicate, communicate. Don’t hold your assumptions in – be honest! It’s better to share your assumptions or fears with your partner than let them (often incorrectly) shape the way you feel about your partner or your relationship.

Getting Help with Assumptions in Relationships

I’m going to assume, (see what I did there?) that reading this article has brought up some feelings about your own relationship. If you feel like you need additional support with managing assumptions in relationships, then couples therapy or individual therapy could help. 

If you’re ready to talk about your relationship, contact Couples Learn today for a free consultation.