Couples seek counseling for a variety of reasons, and at a variety of stages in a relationship. Some couples enter therapy with a very strong sense of “the issue” and some couples are less certain. Partners can have extremely different views about “what the problem is.” This can be baffling to both partners, if not infuriating.
Regardless of the issue, my philosophy in regards to couples counseling is that conflict is good for the relationship! Successful couples therapy will not eliminate conflict from a relationship, but will instead help the couple learn to manage their conflict more effectively. This is true regardless of whether the conflict is about work, money, sex, friends, etc. Sometimes it does not appear that there is conflict in the relationship and instead, their may be a sense of having drifted apart. But even this is a certain kind of conflict.
I typically meet with a couple together for an initial appointment where I seek to get a sense of "what the problem is" and what the goals for therapy will be. Following this initial session, I meet with each partner separately to further gain a sense of each partner’s unique perspective. Following these initial meetings, I usually recommend that I meet with the couple on a weekly basis.