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Saturday, June 9, 2018

Now You're Going to Tell Me that I Can't Afford to NOT get a Relationship Consultant

You're still reading and that's AWESOME! Hopefully, you've had a chance to check out the first two posts: Relationship Consulting: When it makes sense to get another opinion, and  Fine, I'm Listening: What Does a Relationship Consultant Do?
If so, you've gotten the basics about why having a Relationship Consultant is a fabulous idea and what a Relationship Consultant is actually going to do for you.

So, obviously, this is the point in this pitch where I talk you into thinking that there is nothing better for you to spend your money on. Right?

I'm not going to lie to you. You're partially right.

Let me start with this, though. Each family's financial situation is unique. It's not for me to decide how you prioritize your spending. In fact, as a Relationship Consultant, my role is simply to identify issues that are impacting your relationship, not add to them.

When considering Relationship Consulting, you should consider this cost-benefit analysis:

1) How much are our relationship issues impacting my functioning in the following areas: social life, intimacy, parenting, self-esteem, financial, legal, work productivity, etc.?

2) How much energy, time, and money do I want to invest in resolving those issues?

3) What are the potential positive outcomes from investing in resolving those issues?

4) What are the potential negative outcomes?

Before you consider calling for a consultation, I'd recommend you spend a few minutes thinking about all of these questions. You may find that the issues have definitely been impacting you in ways you don't like and you're ready to figure stuff out and get support. You may even be able to re-allocate some funds from other sources in order to do that. If so, then you're in a position to participate in and benefit from a consultation.

If the issues aren't impacting your functioning, you don't want to invest time and money into resolving them, or you are worried about potential negative outcomes, this isn't the right process or the right time for you.

THIS is where I show you what an amazing value Relationship Consulting is...

I did a little consulting market research. I looked at other types of professionals or specialists and what they charge for their services.

Consider these costs we might incur:

An automobile service visit can cost $150/hour for labor.
A massage therapist/spa can charge $100-200/hour for services.
A personal trainer may cost $50-75/hour for multiple hours a week.
An educational consultant (helping kids get into college) can charge up to $3000.
A doula charges $500-2000 for prenatal appointments and delivery.
A financial/investment specialist will charge a percentage of your investment.
An attorney charges $200-$400 for services.
A therapist can bill between $100-$250/hour for sessions.
A website/social media manager can charge $400-$1500/month for services.

You, of course, see where I'm going. 

As your Relationship Consultant, I'm committing to the following number of hours:

1-2 hours: Reading and analyzing two online assessments
2 hours: Meeting with you in person or over video to ask questions and get additional information
1-2 hours: Creating your personalized report
1-2 hours: Following up with you for a year to see if you need additional support

At an hourly rate of $150, that's a minimum of $750. (Good news, that's not what I'm currently charging!)

What's great about having a consultation, though, is that you will get information that can save you money in other areas:

1) By being aware of issues and having recommendations for services, you can get the right type of support sooner. Many couples who enter therapy spend 2-4 sessions providing background information. Having a consultation report can save time when you start with a new counselor.

2) Some couples skip counseling altogether and separate or divorce. As family law attorneys will tell you, having unresolved emotional issues will often make the divorce process very difficult and prolonged because emotional issues manifest into custody and financial disputes. By identifying, understanding, and managing emotional issues before contacting an attorney, couples who are splitting up can save so much in attorney's fees (and emotional energy!).

3) You may find that you have a single issue that can be resolved by a specific intervention, like seeing a sex therapist, a medical doctor, or getting a babysitter. Knowing that the "big" issue isn't as big as it seems when you're thinking about it in the middle of the night can keep it from getting out of control.

Okay, okay, here's the real deal:

Because Relationship Consulting is so new, I'm going to offer it for lower than $750 for some amount of time. If you decide this is for you and you contact me, we'll figure out a price that works for you. And, hey, if $750 works for you, that's great with me too!

Fine, I’m Listening: What does a Relationship Consultant do?

In my last post, Relationship Consulting: When it makes sense to get another opinion, I laid out some solid reasons why having a relationship consultation makes sense. What I didn't do, though, is tell you exactly who a Relationship Consultant IS and what a Relationship Consultant DOES!

So, here you go.

A Relationship Consultant IS someone with professional training in relationships (a therapist) and with extensive additional training in relationship facilitation (Prepare/Enrich), "crisis" issues (discernment counseling, decoupling counseling), and mediation. In addition, a Relationship Consultant should have a deep field of referral options in different types of therapies, family law, and financial analysis.

A Relationship Consultant DOES four basic things. 

1) Administers an online assessment. In our case, I give you access to an online set of questions that you and your partner answer, separately.

2) Looks over your answers and then interviews you about them. Once I've seen what both you and your partner have answered, I look for places I want additional information. I'll then meet with you and your partner separately to see what other data I need in order to get a well-rounded picture of your relationship.

3) Writes a report and gives it to you. After we've had a chance to talk--up to an hour for each of you--I'll take everything I've learned about your relationship and write you a fancy report. This report is going to do two big things. First, it's going to list/highlight/bring to your attention issues that came up during the assessments and interviews. Some of these issues may be known to you; some may have been in your blind spot. Secondly, this report is going to include recommendations for next steps for you. These next steps will be tailored to what you need.

4) Follows up with you for a year. After I've handed off your report, I'll follow up with you at scheduled intervals in order to see how your next steps are going and if you need any additional recommendations.

Some questions I've gotten:

* What if you're my Relationship Consultant and I want to stay on with you in a therapy role?
Depending on your needs, we can transition into a different professional relationship where I provide the counseling and therapy services you need and want. If I change my role with you, I'll have you complete an informed consent to that change in services.

*What if you're my Relationship Consultant and I DON'T want to stay with you in a therapy role?
That's completely fine! My job as your consultant isn't to drum up therapy business for myself. It's to help you get the support you need. I will offer you referrals to therapists I think may be a good fit for you and hope they work out.

Next up: Now You're Going to Tell Me that I Can't Afford to NOT get a Relationship Consultant

Relationship Consulting: When it makes sense to get another opinion

What would you say if I told you that, much of the time, the only part of someone’s life that they DON’T get help from a consultant on is their relationship?

Think about it. We get help from specialists for almost everything. From our cars, to our plumbing, to our retirement accounts, to our fitness, to our spirituality, to our parenting, to our healthcare…we rely on and value the input of specific, learned, trusted others.

But our relationships? Rarely. Sometimes people will get some pre-marital counseling before getting married. But people who aren’t married don’t often reach out for that. Sometimes people will seek some religious mentoring if they want to feel closer to each other. Generally, though, the first time most people start to "consult" about their relationships is when things are starting to fall apart..and then they consult with friends and family before thinking about therapy.

Why do we do that to ourselves? (I can give you an answer, but maybe I’ll save that for another day!)

Our primary intimate relationship, whether married or not, is a foundation of our stability and success. This is the person we share time and resources with, rely on, support, get supported by, laugh with, cry around, raise children with, attend cousin’s birthday parties with, fart near, retire with…this is the big one. This is THE relationship that we put a big chunk of our lives into.

We are taught, though, that once we’re partnered or married, we should know how to do it all by ourselves. We should know how to fight fairly, apologize, express our needs, share our time equitably, and achieve life balance. And if we can’t…then we’ve failed ourselves and our relationship, and sometimes even our family and our religion.

It’s only then, IF THEN, that we reach out for help. When the problems have gotten too big or the silences have gotten too long—that’s when we think, “Crap! We need to get some help!” So many times, though, the rift is such that a few half-hearted sessions of couples counseling just isn’t enough to salvage anything of the original relationship and it, unfortunately, ends.

I believe it doesn’t have to be that way. I believe receiving a relationship consultation early can do one of a number of things:

1) Keep you out of therapy. Catch those communication or conflict issues early and you may not even need counseling.

2) Get you the specific help you do need. Yes, couples need help sometimes. But maybe you need a sex therapist and not an attachment therapist. Maybe you need a financial planner and not a sex therapist. Maybe you need an attorney, but maybe you just need some enrichment exercises! A relationship consultant helps you identify your relationship’s unique needs and get you the relevant support.

3) Keep a bad situation from getting worse. Maybe the relationship is too far gone to salvage. But, a relationship consultant can tell you the hot button items AND how to address them in order to reduce the emotional and financial cost of a breakup.

A relationship consultation should be the first step for any relationship that is experiencing any issues, however big or small. It’s the quickest, most cost-effective way to get a handle on what you need and to get the personalized, specialized support to meet those needs.