Category Archives: Blog

Divorce Discernment Counseling

Discernment counseling is an approach tailored to specifically work with couples in the process of considering the future of their relationship.   Approximately 30% of couples who enter into couples therapy are qualified as ‘mixed agenda’ couples, meaning there is one partner ‘leaning out’ of the relationship, considering moving forward with separation or divorce; the other ‘leaning in,’ meaning they are hoping to save and strengthen their relationship.   Of couples that are already proceeding forward with the divorce process, approximately 40% are deemed ‘mixed agenda’ couples.  This creates a difficult starting point for couples therapy and can often mean that couples counseling falls flat before it can get to the root cause of the problems between partners.

The average legal cost for divorce is $15,000.  Paired with emotional distress, impact on children, financial constraints, and the social implications, it is important to make an informed choice about this important relationship.  The goal of discernment counseling is to provide a structured, brief approach to ‘mixed agenda couples’, in which partners gain clarity and confidence on which path to choose.  Partners utilize sessions to explore their relationship history, emotional injuries, whether they believe their problems are solvable, the impacts on their life and children, their role in getting to this place in their marriage and their emotional needs.  The role of the therapist is as a facilitator and processor, utilizing a nonjudgmental stance in the room, and working with each partner to explore their own longings, needs, roles, and injuries in the relationships.  

We support clients to gain confidence in their decision to either move forward with couples therapy, divorce, or remain in the marriage.   Discernment Counseling can also be a helpful starting point for couples that are unsure if they want to commit to couples therapy.  Couples and therapists can often struggle to gain traction in session f they are feeling protective, ambivalent or lack clear goals.  Once a couple feels their issues are solvable and they want to make the transition to couple’s therapy, we provide referrals to couple’s therapists that are trained and skilled in your particular areas of need.

Separation and divorce are a huge transition for all parties involved.  Individual therapy offers support with: grieving the loss of the relationship and future plans; coping with distress, anger, depression, anxiety, financial constraints, and exploring the impact on how you view your self.  

If couples decide to divorce, the focus shifts to providing support to the children.  Parents can utilize services to transition from a couple to co-parenting individuals.  We provide Co-Parenting and Family Therapy services to facilitate secure and stable family connections going forward. Research shows that children’s ability to cope with divorce tends to reflect and follow the parents’ ability to cope. Children look to their primary secure attachment figures in their life for guidance through distress.  Family Therapy can be an  important tool in providing a safe space for partners as well as for children to explore their difficulties with navigating this new world. 

Blaisure, K. R., Ph.D. & Geasler, M. J. Ph.D., (n.d.). Children and Divorce. Retrieved July 14, 2016, from

Bozzo, A. (2012, May 7). The Cost of Divorce and Marriage. Retrieved July 14, 2016, from

How much Divorce Cost in the USA. (n.d.). Retrieved July 14, 2016, from

Kruk, E., Ph.D. (2012, November 20). Family Therapy and Parenting Coordination to reduce conflict. Retrieved July 14, 2016, from


Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy

What is Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy?

Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy supports couples to renew feelings of love and connection. It is proven to be effective in helping couples build trust, communicate clearly, and resolve conflict. EFT focuses on helping couples develop the tools necessary to express needs and desires safely. Couples can learn to trust that their partner is available to hear what they’re feeling, and respond in a way that is constructive and loving. EFT will help you develop close emotional connections with others in your life, as well as improve how you feel about yourself.

If you have tried therapy before, chances are you’ve had some positive results. In many cases, however, those results may not be long-lasting. Many methods of therapy only give you the tools to patch a particular situation. These tools help temporarily, but they are sometimes only a quick-fix. They do not address the deeper hurts, the painful struggles, or the roots of the problem. The greatest benefit of EFT is that it gets to that root of the problem. It provides real, visible results.

When you can say, “I need you to be present. I need you to show me love. I need to believe you are really here for me,” you can allow yourself to open up to accepting your own needs. When you can hear your partner, or even yourself, ask for those deep, basic, emotional needs to be met, you can better provide them. Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy will guide you to a place where you feel safe and comfortable truly expressing and understanding these essential needs.

Does EFT Work?

EFT is extremely effective, especially in the long term. Rather than focusing on the small details of specific disagreements, EFT allows you and your partner to look at the bigger picture of how you relate to each other and where you disconnect. It goes deep down to the root of the problems, rather than just pruning the branches.

EFT depends on a solid, trusting, safe client/therapist relationship. The Center for Connection, Healing and Change in Woodbridge, VA has several therapists with experience in EFT, who will work with you to develop an honest and transparent relationship. In order to help you change, our therapists will support and encourage your emotional recognition and expression, and stand beside you when you begin to get in touch with any fears, longings and unmet needs. The deep empathy involved in EFT relies on a close, professional, client/therapist relationship.

The biggest difference between EFT and other forms of therapy is that EFT will actually help you and your partner truly care for each other again. It helps you connect in a secure and positive way that can only improve your relationship.

Feeling love for each other again is fostered by strengthening your attachment to each other. Strong attachment bonds lead you and your partner to feel safe together and know you are the most important person in each other’s lives. EFT strengthens these bonds by allowing you to open up to each other in a safe and secure environment.

In a sense, EFT is almost like rewiring the way you approach and engage in your relationship as a couple. EFT gives you the tools to recognize and then ask for what you really need in a relationship. It helps you reconstruct how you and your partner connect on an emotional level, which helps you establish deeper trust and understanding.

What does the research say?

EFT relies on a three-stage, nine-step procedure that will be tailored to your specific needs. The methods and effectiveness of EFT are widely accepted in the scientific community. Research by the original founders, Dr. Susan Johnson and Dr. Les Greenberg, has been professionally published and repeatedly explored and retested for more than 30 years. The research shows that EFT really works with family and couples counseling: approximately 90% of couples who participated in EFT research studies reported that their relationship “significantly improved”—no matter how much they had previously struggled—after undergoing Emotionally Focused Therapy.

Emotionally Focused Therapy is a tried and tested method that will provide you and your loved ones with the ability to truly connect and respond to each other at a deep emotional level.

Get in touch with our Intake Coordinator today, who can help you get started with an EFT therapist.

To find out more about EFT, please visit the following resources:

CCHC Couples Therapy Services

International Center for Excellence in EFT

Dr. Sue Johnson, Founder of EFT


Welcome to CCHC!

CCHC is a brand new practice in Woodbridge, opening in May 2015. Our treatment approach values connection, emotional responsiveness and mind-body wellness. We hope to offer experiences of growth, healing and transformation so that clients can create a life that is satisfying and peaceful, whatever this means to them.

We pride ourselves on recruiting therapists that are passionate, skilled and well-trained. We invest heavily in our staff team, offering ongoing professional development in their areas of clinical interest. Our clinicians are not generalists, they choose to work with specific clients and specific issues so they can develop their specialty. When you visit the Center, you will be matched with a therapist who works specifically with the issue you want support with.

Our space was designed as a beautiful sanctuary. Clients and therapists alike describe CCHC as a peaceful and welcoming place. Each of our rooms have been decorated and designed for our different clients. The rooms that focus on couple and family work are large and airy with lots of comfortable seating. We also have rooms that are specifically designed for children and teens, with plenty of Play Therapy and Expressive Arts Therapy resources.

If you are interested in one of our services, you will find our Intake Coordination process to be friendly and efficient. We take time to get to know your needs so we can get you connected with the right therapist. We look forward to working with you.