Hi, my name is Stephanie Cook, and I am a licensed clinical social worker and couples therapist. I appreciate this opportunity to share with you who I am, and the counseling services I provide.
I specialize in couples therapy, although I also offer individual and family counseling. Sessions are available either in person at my Atlanta office, or online, through video conferencing technology. I am passionate about helping people create better lives and relationships by providing the most updated, effective, and evidence-based methods of counseling available.
In couples therapy, one of my primary goals is to help couples develop healthy ways to resolve conflicts, find compassion, nurture each other, and meet each others needs. I strive to provide an unbiased and supportive environment where couples can feel more comfortable sharing authentically and building emotional intimacy.
We will first schedule an initial assessment session (1.5 hours) together, then two individual sessions (1 hour) before "regular" couples therapy begins. You will also complete a very thorough online assessment through the Gottman Institute, called the "Relationship Checkup" assessment.
Don't wait to improve your relationship. Get started today--call me at 678-999-3390, email me at Stephanie@CounselingATL.com.
PRE-ENGAGEMENT & PRE-MARITAL COUNSELING
I also offer pre-marital and pre-engagement counseling for couples who are considering engagement and marriage. This can be a very important investment towards developing a long-lasting, healthy, and fulfilling marriage. Most premarital couples therapy lasts approximately 5-10 sessions.
After conducting an extensive assessment of each couples' strengths and areas for growth through both clinical interviewing and thorough computer assessments, I provide couples with a place to process differences, plan for the future, and learn the fundamental elements of healthy relationships.
Research reviewing numerous premarital counseling effectiveness studies found that couples who participate in pre-marriage preparation report on average a 30% stronger marriage than couples who did not participate in pre-marriage counseling (Stanley, Amato, Johnson & Markman, 2006). Don't wait until you're married to start working on your relationship. Learn what makes healthy, satisfying, and sustainable marriage. Invest in your future together by scheduling your first pre-marital or pre-engagement counseling session today.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT COUPLES THERAPY:
Does couples therapy have to be done on a weekly basis? No. Some couples, especially busy professionals or those living outside of the Atlanta area, prefer to work with me for an entire day, or for several days. I offer "Intensive (marathon) Therapy" for non-local couples, or for couples who want a quicker process. Marathon therapy consists of several consecutive days of longer therapy sessions (typically 4-6 hours per day for 2-5 consecutive days). I offer convenient weekend scheduling for couples considering Intensive Therapy.
How many sessions will it take to solve our problems? Each couple is different and unique, so of course, there is not an average number of sessions. Couples therapy begins with a 3-part assessment process where I complete an individual assessment of each partner, and an assessment of the couple as a whole. This assessment provides us with the foundation--a kind of road map--for our work together. Once the assessment is completed, all three of us (you, your partner and I) will decide the frequency and duration of your sessions. The goal of our work is not to make you dependent on me or therapy. Instead, I want to provide you as a couple with the skills and tools you will need to become competent at using the Gottman Method of building a healthy relationship in your daily lives. I will offer you with the clinical interventions necessary to help you achieve that goal.
What if one of us has a lot of personal issues to work on? Sometimes, individual therapy is helpful for one or both partners who are participating in couples therapy. If I believe that individual therapy is indicated, I will help you in getting matched with an appropriate therapist for your individual treatment. For clients of Intensive Therapy who do not live in the Atlanta area, I can assist you in providing more general guidance for locating an appropriate individual therapist in your area.
If we are showing some of the "Four Horsemen" (destructive behaviors), which implies that we have a high probability of divorce, does that mean that there's no hope? Should we break up now, even if our relationship seems good to us? Absolutely not! The most important discovery to come from the research by Dr. John Gottman on divorce prediction is the specific behaviors that couples need to do differently to strengthen their relationships. Changing those negative behaviors that predict divorce to more positive behaviors that predict success can significantly change the trajectory of your relationship and make it better. Everyone is capable of making small changes that can make big differences in romantic relationships. However, if divorce is on the table, you may want to start with what's called "Discernment Counseling" to determine if you want to stay in the relationship and try to make it work through couples therapy, or if you are ready to leave.
COUPLES & MARITAL COUNSELING
All couples go through periods of difficulty, whether due to life transitions, loss, infidelity, or simply feeling disconnected. Choosing to get help by seeing a therapist can be difficult, but it can be the first step towards creating a better relationship.
In working with couples, I have expertise in one of the most scientifcally-based methods of couples therapy, Gottman Couples Therapy, which includes well-researched evaluation tools and structured sessions. I teach practical relationship skills targeted to your specific needs, and facilitate new ways of discussing problems in the relationship.
I have completed the highest levels of training offered through the Gottman Institute, as well as every other course they have offered for therapists. I am currently pursuing certification in order to teach new couples therapists. I also have additional, specialized training in the following methods of couples therapy:
- PREPARE-ENRICH Premarital and Pre-Engagement Couples Counseling
- The Gottman Method for Working with Complex Couples: Going Deeper with Co-morbidities:
- Physical and emotional abuse
- Psychiatric diagnoses (Depression, Anxiety, etc.)
- The Gottman Method for Couples and Addiction Recovery
- Discernment Counseling for Couples on the Brink of separation and/or divorce
- Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT) with Trauma Survivors
Workshops for Couples
I offer several weekend relationship improvement workshops for couples as well as workshops for new and expecting parents to "baby-proof" their relationship through some of the most difficult years of parenting.
7 Principles Workshop
This program is based upon the New York Times best seller, "The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work" by Dr. John Gottman, PhD. Straightforward in its approach yet profound in its effect, the principles outlined in this groundbreaking book teach partners new and startling strategies for making their marriage work. Read more about about these workshops here.
Bringing Baby Home Workshop
Bringing Baby Home is a research-based, research-tested workshop for expectant couples and parents of infants. It was developed by the Gottman Institute, well known for decades of leading-edge scientific research on couples, child development and the transition to parenthood. Read more about these workshops here.
Research shows that 67% of couples report a significant drop in their relationship quality within 3 years after the birth of a child, and an increase in conflict and hostility.
– Relationship Research Institute
Discernment Counseling: For Couples On the Brink of Divorce
I have been trained through the Minnesota Couples On The Brink Project (University of Minnesota) to offer Discernment Counseling for couples considering divorce. This is a short term, intensive form of counseling in which the focus is not on solving marital problems but on seeing if they could potentially be solved.
Unlike traditional marriage counseling that assumes that both people are willing to work on the marriage, discernment counseling helps people decide whether to work on their marriage or keep moving towards divorce. I work to understand both partners, even if they see things very differently. The process includes two 2 hour session and up to 5 sessions total (if both partners are willing to move forward).
Who is discernment counseling for?
Discernment Counseling is for couples who are considering divorce or separation but they are not completely sure if it's the right path for them. They want to consider this decision a little more before making a permanent decision. It is also for people who want to give their marriage another chance even though their spouse is making steps towards divorce.
If you are interested in discernment counseling but your spouse is not interested at this time, I can still help. Call me to discuss short-term, individual counseling options for yourself.
Discernment counseling is not for:
- Couples where one spouse has made a final decision to divorce and wants counseling to encourage the other spouse accept that decision
- There is a danger of domestic violence
- There is an Order of Protection from the court
- Couples where one spouse is coercing the other to participate
For more information on Discernment Counseling:
- Couples on the Brink Program
- "Should we call it quits? A new kind of couples counseling" by Diane Mapes