Dr. Pepper Pratt takes couples counseling very seriously. In addition to advanced training in trauma (Allender Center Levels I and II, EMDR), Pepper has completed Level 3 Training in Gottman Method Couples Therapy.
An important part of effective couples therapy is proper assessment. Rather than just "diving-in", Dr. Pratt understands that relationships are complex and that there are many dynamics at work that may contribute to the problem that brings a couple in. In order for the relationship to be restored to health, the assessment process is kind of like a relationship CT Scan or MRI.
The Gottman Method, used by Dr. Pratt, is a scientific, research-driven and evidence-based way of discovering areas of strengths and a couple's places of vulnerability. It is not just Pepper “hanging out with you”, but a precise method for addressing the root problems in the relationship. Before we bring intervention, we want as much precision as possible.
We believe that marriage is sacred and there are very few relationships that we have ever encountered that we felt were hopeless. Most, we believe, can be improved and become life-giving. However, a bad relationship did not get that way over night and it will take focused energy and work to make it better..
MRI-Marriage Restoration Intensive
With reasonable notice, Dr. Pratt is willing to conduct a three-day couples intensive. These three days would involve approximately six to eight hours daily (minus lunch and breaks) and can be scheduled over a weekend if needed. The cost for a three day intensive is $2500 in Jackson, TN and $3000 in Memphis or Nashville. This fee would include the assessment process during the intensive. Payment in full would be required before beginning and the battery of questionnaires would be completed prior to the intensive. Some couples may prefer to include a second therapist (a female, in addition to Dr. Pratt). This extra cost is $1000 for three days.
Please contact Dr. Pratt by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone (731-660-0199) for more questions or to schedule an intensive. If you are outside of Jackson, there are many hotel options within ten minutes of The Pratt Clinic.
Working with couples since 1991, trust me, I can tell you some stories. Some stories describe the thrill of victory and others spin the agony of defeat. The content is familiar—communication, money, sex, kids, adultery (yes, I call it adultery), pride, drug use, and on and on. Some stories portray individuals who have admirable integrity and other tales get off track and stay off track when one person has dug their heels in to live for him/herself and him/herself alone. Many relationship stories are re-enactments of profound harm that has lingered in childhood with chapters of life that need to be closed, yet continue to impact one’s style of relating in the present. And, many, many more of the stories I could tell have, at the center, a God-given resilience, that is the fertile ground for seeds of hope that spring up during therapy. And, before you know it, there is new life in the relationship and, they once again (and some for the first time) they begin to enjoy the fruits of their love.
So how does couples therapy work? Understandably, you have seen scenes from movies and television that depict a couple with a therapist. There is a wide range of portrayals from Everybody Loves Raymond, to Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Most of the time, couples therapy is shown in a fairly positive light on screen. However, you may have friends who say, “I went to marriage counseling and it didn’t work”, and they divorced. On the other hand, you rarely hear the stories of scores of others who engaged in couples therapy and picked up some tools, used them, and experienced the type of change and marital closeness of the like that had only been in their dreams before.
Traditional Couples Therapy
In traditional couples therapy, sessions may begin with both attending together for the first visit or sometimes one person comes to present the problem and then the other joins in the next visit. Early visits are spent exploring the various issues that are causing strife and goals and plans may be laid down to begin to address. Most traditional couples therapy lasts from 8-15 visits and couples often resolve some issues and move from distant to more close by the time therapy ends or they just do not see a need to continue. There may be a variety of models of individual therapy used (Person Centered, Cognitive Behavioral etc…) or family therapy such as Systems Theory.
Evidence Based Couples Therapy
After working with couples in traditional couples therapy for decades, I have engaged in additional training with the Gottman Institute out of Seattle for helping people in such a way that is specific to couples issues with a focus on the things that have been proven, through research, to work, help couples avoid divorce and experience meaningful engagement. John and Julie Gottman are the most quoted among authorities on marriage, having published over 270 journal articles and 40 books. I am about to complete the Level 3 phase of Gottman training. In this style of therapy, we focus more on processthan content.
Couples come in for a 90 minute visit as an initial part of the assessment. We explore the presenting problems, but also take a trip down memory lane and learn more about the relationship. Good times, bad times, hard times, and highlights are all important in understanding what a couple is made of. Then, on their own time, they take a battery of tests measuring dynamics of the relationship such as fondness, admiration, engagement, passion, romance, conflict as well as personal areas of concern such as depression, anxiety, hostility, etc…. The next visit is individual, where I go through some of the results of the test and learn about each partner’s unique perspective on the relationship. By our third meeting, we have narrowed down the strengths and problem areas of the relationship and have a clear plan of action to bring the most relief and closeness sooner rather than later.
It is common to spend 5-10 visits after the assessment phase implementing the plan, learning tools and receiving coaching of putting the tools into practice.
MRI's (Marriage Restoration Intensives)
For couples who are hurting, angry and wanting to really create a new relationship, I highly recommend coming in for a couples intensive. This three-day experience involves everything described in the Evidence Based Couples Therapy description above, but is contained in a three day period with just the couple and one couples therapist. With 20-plus hours of therapy in a single intensive, couples accomplish in three days what it may take three months to get done in traditional Couples Therapy. The expense is about the same (and a fraction of the cost of divorce), but is just consolidated on the front end with very little expense on the back end. Follow-up tends to be minimal because the bulk of the work has been done.
Many couples wait until about six months too late to get help. Whether it is with me or someone else, if the thought has occurred to you to seek couples therapy, now is the time. You are worth it, your marriageis worth it and your family is worth it.
To secure a spot for a Couples Intensive, call 731-660-0199. Out of town guests are welcome too.