Relationship Counseling - What To Expect

Marriage counseling, Couples counseling, LGBTQ counseling, and more...
Relationship counseling and therapy includes marriage counseling, couples and LGBTQ counseling and more. People often have questions for me about couples counseling and therapy, and I hope this gives you an idea of what is involved in getting started.

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What are Suzanne Pratt’s specialties?
My specialties include helping couples heal after infidelity, diffusing physiological arousal (flooding), and managing gridlocked issues. I provide pre-marital counseling and help happy couples to enhance their communication and connection. For more information about the methods I use, please take a look at Gottman Therapy FAQ, or visit, and at I also work with individuals and have training in EMDR:

How does the assessment process work?
After we’ve scheduled our first appointment, please check your email boxes for an assessment invitation from The Gottman Institute. Once you’ve both completed Relationship Checkups on the secured online site, the Institute will forward these to me. There is a small cost per couple for this. I would like to have your assessments no later than a day before our second session so that I can score them and develop feedback for you then. A thorough assessment of--and feedback to you about--your relationship dynamics and issues will be provided. I believe that it is important to identify whether or not I can be helpful to you prior to beginning couples counseling, based on my assessment and research findings that predict whether or not counseling will be helpful to a distressed couple.

What happens after the assessment?
Once couples counseling is agreed upon, your relationship is my client, and I provide everything possible to strengthen your connection. While you and your partner work together, I provide:
  • antidotes to contempt, criticism, stonewalling and defensiveness
  • research-based interventions that stave off divorce or breakup
  • ways to replace reactivity with presence, and to shift from blame to curiosity
  • experience-based faith in your ability to heal

Couples sessions with me are provided using the Intensive format. These are one or more full day sessions (5-8 hours) with follow up provided according to your relationship's specific needs. I find that intensive therapy sessions allow couples a “safer therapeutic container” than weekly hour-long sessions do, and that the ingredient of ample time is an important factor in working through difficult and nuanced communication problems; In addition, your work in this model allows you to identify and work through problems more immediately; and can be completed on an overall shorter timeline. Marathon therapy, or intensive therapy, is a format I most enjoy and consider effective.

  • Initial Individual Sessions — I may want to meet with each of you individually, usually just once, to better understand your perspective of the relationship dynamics/issues/concerns and to answer any questions either of you have. However, I am not available for ongoing individual counseling. Please let me know if you need referrals.

  • Feedback — In the first portion of the intensive session together, I will discuss the research findings of John Gottman, Ph.D., as they pertain to your relationship. I will provide my assessment of your relationship strengths and challenges, and formulate goals for the session together.

  • Intensive Session — Suzanne’s preference is to meet virtually for the preparatory session, then in person for the intensives. Here is a letter from Suzanne to prospective couples which explains the process:

      Dear Couple,
      My private practice is devoted to couples in Utah and South Carolina only (where I am licensed), but am no longer scheduling couples for regularly occurring, weekly appointments as a starting point. The CloserCouples Intensive model may be an option for you. Intensives are one or more full-day sessions, with follow up (either by me or arranged with another therapist), depending on your specific needs, to suit your relationship. This innovative and highly specialized modality, which researchers call “massing and fading,” often provides a sooner and greater level of distress-reduction and better long term follow up results than typical weekly sessions do.

      The first step is to schedule a virtual 90-minute preparatory session so that we can talk about your needs and assess whether this model might help you. I provide preparatory sessions on my HIPAA compliant Zoom platform. If you are interested in moving forward, please send an email to pratt@closercouples, with your partner in cc, and I will write back with some scheduling options, provide a Zoom link, and soon after we meet, I’ll send some assessments to complete. After that, if we agree to work together, we can schedule an in-person intensive as soon as our schedules allow.

      If we decide in the preparatory session to meet for an intensive(s), I will develop feedback for you, based on your responses to in-depth relationship surveys. I will send an agenda for the intensive session, logistical information, and how to prepare. The outcome is an intensive session, tailored to your particular relationship’s strengths and challenges. I'll provide a binder of exercises for you to keep.

      Payment plans are possible if an intensive model fits your needs but a single lump sum payment creates difficulty. I'm no longer participating on any health insurance panels.

      I no longer see individuals in my private practice, only couples.

      Looking forward to meeting you soon,

      Suzanne Pratt, LCSW

How can I prepare for counseling ahead of time?
In addition to completing the assessments, I encourage you to read The Seven Principles or to watch Making Relationships Work, a film on Dr. John Gottman’s relationship research.

Here are some YouTube videos which may be of interest.
  • PART 1

  • PART 2

  • PART 3

  • PART 4

  • Non Violent Communication workshop, an approach both simple and profound. It is not a Gottman Intervention, however I find it to be very effective for many couples as a way to frame and improve communication, especially about differing needs in high stakes matters.

Another book many couples find to be useful is Susan Johnson's Hold Me Tight.

More ideas may follow when I see your assessments and when we meet for the intensive.

Can I use my health insurance?
I am no longer participating on any health insurance panels. Closer Couples is a fee-for-service practice, which means I do not bill insurances and would be considered an out of network provider with most insurance providers. I will charge you for services provided, and you can get a bill from me with all of the information your insurance provider requires to reimburse you directly. Once you have met your out of network deductible, your insurer may send you a check to reimburse you for a portion of the costs of the services. Please do not ask me to create a bill for your insurance company indicating that we are engaged in individual therapy if we have contracted for couples therapy. Using your insurance involves the disclosure of a mental health diagnosis to your insurer, perhaps treatment plans and progress notes as well. Not all insurance companies reimburse for couples counseling. Health insurance coverage is intended to address costs associated with managing the symptoms of a condition, illness, or disorder, so one person must meet criteria for a diagnosis in the DSM, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The procedure codes for CloserCouples services are as follows. You may contact your insurer (the customer service phone number on the back of your insurance card) to inquire about the amount of the reimbursement for each of these:
  • Oral History Interview [ 90847 ]
  • Initial Individual Interview [ 90837 ]
  • Feedback Session [ 90847 ]
  • Couples Counseling [ 90847 ]

Where will the counseling take place?
I meet with couples in my clinic, near "9th & 9th" in Salt Lake City.

What is the cost?
Please contact CloserCouples at (801) 484-8838 for current rates.

How often do we meet with Suzanne?
CloserCouples Intensive sessions are an opportunity to deepen your awareness and empathy for one another. The preparatory session and first intensive session are not considered psychotherapy in the sense that there is no understood long-term psychotherapeutic relationship. The preparatory session and intensive session(s) are considered consultations only. If long term counseling seems indicated, I may contract with you for that, or will make appropriate referrals.

How does confidentiality work in couples counseling?
For treatment to have any efficacy at all, it is essential that individuals trust that information shared in their couples sessions will be kept confidential, and that it will not be used to harm them. In individual psychotherapy, the record contains information only about one person, the patient. The patient can choose whether or not to waive the right to confidentiality. With couples, my notes have information about both of you. In the unfortunate circumstance of a divorce, particularly where custody of children is being disputed, records or testimony is sometimes requested in an attempt to support one person’s case. Since couples counseling is seriously compromised when record requests may be made, I will ask you to agree that you not request records of testimony of any kind from me regarding your time spent with me unless a valid court order is produced. Furthermore, I am unable to make legal recommendations for either of you or your dependents; these must come from an independent consultant.

Federal regulations (HIPAA) allow me to use or disclose Protected Health Information (PHI) from your record in order to provide treatment to you, to obtain payment for the services I provide, and other health care operations. Click to see my HIPAA document.

What if I live outside of Utah?
Intensive sessions were designed for people who must travel great distances to be seen by a Gottman clinician and for professionals who have difficulty scheduling a weekly 90-minute appointment into their lives. Intensive sessions can be scheduled prior to or following a couples educational workshop in Seattle to augment and deepen the connection between you. To locate other Certified Gottman Therapists who provide marathon therapy in other parts of the country, please visit, click on Find a Therapist or call The Gottman Institute at 888-523-9042 x1. All requests for therapy are completely confidential.