Relationship Counseling - What To Expect

Marriage counseling, Couples counseling, Family counseling, and more...
Relationship counseling and therapy includes marriage counseling, couples and family 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 $29 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 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 typically 90 minutes, although after seeing couples for a while, they sometimes taper to 60-minute sessions. Usually appointments are weekly, sometimes twice a month, and taper off as improvements are made. It is typical for couples work to be 6-12 sessions. In my private practice, I find that 90-minute sessions allow couples a “safer therapeutic container” than 50-minute sessions do; work is often more productive as well as completed on an overall shorter timeline. Ninety minute sessions are the standard/recommended unit offered to the couples I see, but marathon therapy is a format I use more and more as evidence mounts of its effectiveness.
  • Oral History Interview — Both partners attend this session which involves a discussion of your present issues, strengths of the relationship, an exploration of your relationship history and of your families of origin. 90 minutes.
  • Initial Individual Sessions — Suzanne 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 clarify any questions either of you have regarding the Assessment Questionnaire. 60 minutes.
  • Feedback Session — Suzanne will discuss the research findings of John Gottman, Ph.D., as they pertain to your relationship. She will provide her assessment of your relationship strengths and challenges, and make recommendations for treatment. If you wish, this session can be recorded for your future reference. Usually 90 minutes.
  • Subsequent couples counseling sessions are then scheduled. Research is finding that couples counseling holds more benefits when longer sessions are scheduled. I find that weekly, 90 minute sessions generally work well. Marathon sessions (appointments lasting 2-6 hours) are highly recommended as well.

How can I prepare for counseling ahead of time?
In addition to completing the assessments, I encourage you also to watch Making Relationships Work, a film on Dr. John Gottman’s relationship research. You may rent the streaming version here: (You may also borrow a copy of the DVD from me. You may keep it if you like; if you return it, I will not charge you a $20/DVD charge.)

Can I use my health insurance?
My regularly weekday hourly fee is $170/hour.

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 Suzanne’s 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 office. My office address is 265 E 100 S. There is free, reserved parking in the north parking lot behind the building. If you enter the building from the north parking lot there, you will already be on the second floor, and my suite is the last one on your left. When you have both arrived at my office, find the panel by the door in the waiting room and press “3.” A light will come on in my office, notifying me you are here.

What is the cost?
My current fee (through Feb 2018) for services: $170/hour for individuals, couples and families.

Marathon or Intensive Therapy prices are also $170/hour, except when scheduled during weekends or national holidays, when the rate is $255/hour.

My fees as of March 1, 2018 are $185/hr.

Weekend sessions must be booked and fully paid for two weeks prior to session. There is a three-hour minimum for weekend marathon intensive therapy sessions.

How can I contact Suzanne between sessions?
I am usually unable to answer phone calls as they come in. My business cell phone, (801) 484-8838, is answered by voicemail. My response time is usually within 48 hours. I will make every effort to return your call promptly, with the exception of weekends, holidays and during the night time. You may also contact me via email to communicate about scheduling at

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 therapy, 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 psychotherapy 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 couples therapy 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.

Is intensive/marathon therapy available?
Because there are so few Gottman-Certified therapists in some areas, Suzanne Pratt and others offer longer sessions for several consecutive days. Marathon therapy sessions can be as brief as a 2 or 3 hour session and as long as three consecutive 7-hour days. Follow up is scheduled afterwards as needed. Marathon 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. Marathons sessions can be scheduled prior to or following a couples educational workshop in Seattle to augment and deepen the connection between you. (Weekend marathon intensives are $255/hour). 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.

Click here to see my full Couples Therapy Contract.