Growing Your Practice with Couples Intensives with Carole Cullen | GP 144

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A photo of Carole Cullen is captured. She is a group practice owner and a LMFT. Carole is featured on Grow A Group Practice, a therapist podcast.

Are you interested in expanding the services that your practice offers? Are you curious about working with couples? Have you considered offering couples intensives?

In this podcast episode, LaToya Smith speaks about growing your practice with couples intensives with Carole Cullen.

Podcast Sponsor: Therapy Notes

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Meet Carole Cullen

A photo of Carole Cullen is captured. She is a group practice owner and a LMFT. Carole is featured on Grow A Group Practice, a therapist podcast.

Carole Cullen is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, AAMFT Clinical Supervisor, and public speaker. She is a Certified Gottman Method and Emotionally Focused Therapist specializing in working with couples in crisis.

She has a group practice in Wake Forest, NC where she helps couples learn practical tools to reconnect with their partner and create lasting love.

Visit Carole’s website, Couples Workshops NC, and connect on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

FREEBIE: Download Carole’s PDF Guide to Relationships

In This Podcast

  • Couples intensives
  • How to structure your intensive
  • Starting out new

Couples intensives

Many clients and couples are searching for intensives as counseling becomes more destigmatized and people are becoming used to asking for help when it is needed.

A couples intensive is a longer session, unlike group therapy, a retreat, or a workshop, where the therapist works directly with one couple at a time.

It’s therapy with one couple and you just spend a longer amount of time in one sitting with that couple to accomplish deeper work, longer lasting [results], and quicker returns on the work that you’re doing.

Carole Cullen

How to structure your intensive

You can design the layout of your couples intensive in any which way that best suits you, your practice, and your schedule.

Below is Carole’s recommendation that you can learn from if you are new to offering this service:

Day 1: 6 hours: the assessment phase – six weeks of therapy in one day

I start by getting to know the couple and talking to them about their current issues in the relationship. What’s bringing them into therapy?

Carole Cullen

Day 2: 4 hours: the interventions – unbalancing the systems

Day 3: 4 hours: the interventions – teaching new systems and correcting old patterns

They came back and it was like a brand-new couple, and they were ready to do the work, and we had a fantastic third day. So, from the first moment they walked in to the moment that they left, in that time something shifted for them, and they left with a renewed sense of hope for the relationship.

Carole Cullen

Starting out new

If you want to offer couples intensives, here are some things to know:

  • People often come to you as a last resort. They are fed up, heartbroken, or close to giving in. There is a lot of pressure, so you have to be willing and ready to work with them at every level.
  • Start slow! Build a curriculum over time. Start simple and offer incrementally longer sessions until you feel comfortable stretching the intensives over a couple of days.
  • Offer slightly longer sessions with couples that you’ve already been working with. Do a one-day intensive.
  • Pick a couples therapy method like Gottman’s and become certified in it.
  • Learn about EFT and start to incorporate it into the therapy sessions.

Useful links mentioned in this episode:

Check out these additional resources:

Meet LaToya Smith

An image of LaToya Smith is captured. She is a consultant with Practice of the Practice and the owner of LCS Counseling. LaToya is featured on the Practice of the Practice, a therapist podcast.

LaToya is a consultant with Practice of the Practice and the owner of LCS Counseling and Consulting Agency in Fortworth Texas. She firmly believes that people don’t have to remain stuck in their pain or the place they became wounded. In addition to this, LaToya encourages her clients to be active in their treatment and work towards their desired outcome.

She has also launched Strong Witness which is a platform designed to connect, transform, and heal communities through the power of storytelling.

Visit LaToya’s website. Connect with her on FacebookInstagramStrong Witness Instagram, and Twitter.

Apply to work with LaToya.

Email her at [email protected]

Podcast Transcription

[LATOYA SMITH] The Grow A Group Practice Podcast is part of the Practice of the Practice Network, a network of podcasts seeking to help you market and grow your business Yourself. To hear other podcasts like the Practice of the Practice Podcast, go to www.practiceofthepractice.com/network. You are listening to the Grow A Group Practice Podcast, a podcast focused on helping people start, grow, and scale a group practice. Each week you’ll hear topics that are relevant to group practice owners. I’m LaToya Smith, a practice owner, and I love hearing about people’s stories and real life experiences. So let’s get started. Welcome back to the Grow A Group Practice podcast. I am LaToya Smith, your host for the podcast. So I’m excited, you know I’m excited every single time for people that I get to talk to, people I get to meet. This is a person that I asked to be on the podcast months ago. I met her through a mastermind that I had picked up and I was hosting, and I was like, man, I love her work. I love her personality, but she’s a busy woman so I had to find some time. She had to put me in her schedule, and I appreciate every benefit. I have Carole Cullen on today to join us on the podcast. Carole, welcome to the podcast. [CAROLE CULLEN] Hi, thank you. I make time for you, anytime, anytime, but yes, it has been exceptionally busy lately. I think a lot of therapists are feeling the same way. [LATOYA] Absolutely. Now it’s a good thing, but just making sure we take care of ourselves. [CAROLE] That’s what I’m trying to do. [LATOYA] Carole, tell the audience about you, about your practice, where you’re located, what you do. [CAROLE] Sure. I’m Carole Cullen. I’m a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. I have been practicing for over, gosh, 22 years now and I originally started practicing in New York City, in New York and moved down here to North Carolina in 2005, where I started a private practice in Wake Forest, North Carolina, which is just a little bit north of Raleigh. When the pandemic hit we got really busy, as most therapists did become busy and I started to grow my practice into a group practice. Now we are a group practice of five full-time clinicians. I also have graduate student interns. I think I have a total of three, and then soon to be four interns at the moment. So we’ve grown quite a bit in the last two years. The practice specializes in couples therapy, so we are all specializing in either emotionally focused therapy or Gottman Method couples therapy. We also do premarital work. We work with any couple situation, so they don’t have to be married necessarily. We also work with couples that are into different styles of relationships, so there may be more than one partner and we basically try to help anyone who wants to be in a healthy relationship learn how to acquire these skills that are important to have a healthy relationship. [LATOYA] That’s good. I know that you are an LMFT, but what was it, I mean, other than going to school be an LMFT, but to just focus on couples, what was the draw for you? Why is that important for you? [CAROLE] I think I’ve always been fascinated with just relationships. I always watched my older sisters and, they’re much older than me, so my sister is nine and seven years older than me. So when I was about 10, 11, 12, they had these boyfriends coming over to the house. I was just always fascinated with their boyfriend relationships and how they navigated that and just always interested in how to have a healthy relationship, how to make it last. Because I saw these boyfriends come and go. They were young and it made sense, but I always wondered, how do you maintain a relationship? My parents were married for 52 years, so a long time and they had their ups and their downs, and I got to watch that happen too, so not just be married for a long time, but also be married and happily married and have a healthy relationship so I was fascinated by that. When I started looking for a graduate school after getting my bachelor’s, I didn’t even know marriage and family therapy was a thing. I was like, oh, I’ll go look at school counseling, or how to just be a mental health counselor. I didn’t know that marriage counseling was a thing. A good friend of mine introduced me to the Marriage and Family Therapy program at Hof Street University. She told me a little bit about the program, just what she was learning, and I was fascinated instantly. I don’t know why it just always fascinates me. I joined the program and have been in love with MFT ever since, just huge, like to promote the profession. I like to encourage marriage and family therapists to be the best therapist that they can be to not be afraid of working with couples and just training new therapists in the field by bringing on interns, young clinicians, and training them to be the best couple’s therapist that they can be because it is a specialty and you have to have a passion for it. [LATOYA] Absolutely. I think that you sum that last line, summarized well, it is a specialty and you have to have a passion. What I found in the field, man, it’s like either you love it or you just are so afraid you run the other way if couples come calling. I don’t know why that is [CAROLE] It’s true. But those therapists that are like, I never want to see a couple ever in my whole career, those are my best friends because those are my referral sources right there and vice versa. Those are the people I want to meet and have coffee with and get to know, because I’m going to be using them for referrals and they’re going to be using me for referrals. So everybody has their niche and it’s important. [LATOYA] Let’s talk more about how working with couples has helped you to build your group practice, grow your group practice. I know you said right now all the therapists there specialize in working with couples, but specifically, and I get, I was just telling you before we start recording, I get so excited. I’m one of the therapists that I’m like, I’m good, I don’t need to see any couples, but I’m just so fascinated about these intensive groups. So these intensive sessions that you do, let’s talk about that. Let’s tell the audience what it is and can you implement that into your practice? [CAROLE] So I didn’t always do couples intensives. I think that it’s become more of a trend lately. Lots of therapists are doing them, they’re becoming more popular and now you even find that clients, couples, they’re actually looking for couples intensives. They’re searching for them online, they’re asking about it to their current therapist. They’re hearing more about it. So it’s become definitely more popular. I’ve been doing them for about, I’d say five or six years pretty regularly. A couple’s intensive is when you spend several hours at a time, and everybody does it a little bit differently and I’ll share with you how I do it, but several hours out of time working with just one couple. So it’s not like a group or a retreat or a workshop. It’s therapy with one couple and you just spend a longer amount of time in one sitting with that couple to accomplish deeper work more longer lasting and quicker returns on the work that you’re doing. So you may spend six hours in one day with a couple where you are actually accomplishing what you might accomplish over the course of 6, 8, 12 weeks of weekly therapy, 50 minute sessions without the interruptions. So you’re not having a 50-minute session, ding time’s up, we got to go and they’re just about to dive into and feel safe enough to open up and explore something that’s been really hurtful or painful to them. They may not start that conversation because they know clock, the time is running out. So if you have six hours, they just relax into it You get a lot more information from them to help them to heal in that amount of time so it’s just more effective. [LATOYA] I love the fact you just said too, okay, listen, we can do in a day, in a six-hour time period, what we normally take six to 12 weeks. But the flip side of that, woo, six hours going to be a long time [CAROLE] Oh my gosh, it goes so fast, it goes so fast. By the end of the day, it’s like, oh my gosh, did we really just spend six hours here? [LATOYA] That’s awesome. How do you break it up? Like what do you, for somebody listening and doesn’t know, have no idea how to use this six hours? What does it look like? [CAROLE] So I do, the way I do it is three days, and I do, the first day is six hours, and then the second day is four hours, and the third day is four hours, so a total of 14 hours of therapy. I let the clients choose as well if they just want to do the first day, I describe it to them and I let them know that this is really just the assessment phase for couples therapy. It’ll take, it’s about six weeks of weekly therapy in that one day, but that’s when you really start doing the real work to start making changes in the relationship is after the assessment phase. So you’re just getting a jumpstart. Then day two and day three are more like interventions and really unbalancing the system and teaching them new skills to correct some of the negative patterns that they’re caught up in. So on the first day, the way I lay it out is an assessment. I start out by getting to know the couple and talking to them about their current issues in the relationship, what’s bringing them into therapy, getting to know what’s really important to them and what they want to change. Also assessing for any affairs, any addiction issues, domestic violence power and control, so really just assessing the current situation of the relationship and what the current issues are that they’re maybe having conflict about. I also look at their style of conflict too, like how do they have conflict, what does that look like, and just assessing maybe who’s the pursuer, who’s the withdrawer, what their positions are in the relationship, assessing the sexual relationship that they’re currently maybe having trouble with or maybe that’s an area that’s working just fine. So I’m really looking at the current situation, and that usually takes quite a bit of time because I let them tell me everything, everything that they want. And they have a lot to tell you. They’re coming in there with a lot to tell you. We just take our time with that, and that can take an hour or two hours. So that’s a big chunk of the time, is getting, just getting to know them. Then I find my way, somehow some way to the beginning of their relationship and I ask them to tell me about how they met. This is a Gottman technique, so we start with, yep, tell me how you met. What was that first meeting like? What was the early part of your relationship like? So I’m looking for strengths in their relationship during that time. What was it that brought them together in the first place? Because those things, those qualities are still there. We just got to find them again. They’re just buried underneath all the resentment and conflict. So we got to dig deep and so I’m assessing can they even remember what it was like? Do they think back to the beginning parts of their relationship and they see it as negative? Or do they say to themselves, we should have never been married in the first place and here’s why? Those are red flags. I’m just looking for those things and then I walk through the history of their relationship from the day that they met until the day they sat in my office and understand the highs and the lows, their strengths and their areas that need improvement. I’m also looking for any ways that they connect, so do they have rituals of connection, do they have date nights, how do they come together as a family? What are their hopes and dreams for the future? Do they have a vision of what their future might look like? When do they start to develop that plan for their life together? Do they know it right away or did it happen over time? So I’m just really they’re telling me a story, but I’m assessing the whole time. [LATOYA] Yes. I wonder, like what you said too, because the 50 minutes is just not enough to like open that, close it, open that close it. So this helps to keep the flow going. Then I also imagine once people commit to this, they want to stay because if you went somewhere for six hours, [CAROLE] You’re not done. [LATOYA] I want to come back the next couple days then. [CAROLE] That’s right. The goal is, my goal for any session, whether it’s a 50-minute session or a six-hour session, is to give my clients hope. They need to walk out of there with hope that they have what it’s going to take to fix their relationship and that I know how to help them to do that and a commitment to wanting to work on that. So when they leave, hope is the most important thing they need to take away if they don’t have that or go nowhere. [LATOYA] I was about to ask you that, what’s the expectation after 14 hours? Is it like, yoh, you guys are going to feel like your honeymoon again. [CAROLE] No. [LATOYA] Or hope to continue or go on [CAROLE] It’s hope to, so, it’s a lot of things, I think. Hope yes, you want to walk away with, we’re back on the right path. We’ve got hope that we can fix this. We know that we’ve got some of the tools to get us started. But they’re they didn’t spend 30 years in their relationship with these dysfunctional patterns to just undo them in three days. I let them know that that’s not going to change, but you’re going to walk away with a better understanding of how you got here. It’s shifts. There’s like a shift that happens in the couple when they first walk in, it’s, he did this and she did that, you did this, and you did that, and it’s your fault we’re here. They walk in with this blame game and I noticed that where I’m trying to get them and towards the end they’re leaving with, wow, we really messed this up together. [LATOYA] Oh, yes. [CAROLE] We did this together and we had good reasons for all the things that we did and now we understand we were protecting ourselves or we were trying to get our needs met or we were really hurt and we had good reasons for doing what we did and behaving the way we did and saying the things we did, but you know what, that’s just not working for us anymore. If we really want to fix this, we’ve got to let some of that go and start working on fixing this and now we have the tools to do that. So they leave with a different mindset than when they came in. It’s like a different couple had an intensive idea just a few weeks ago. They walked in and they were, whoa, man, this would, LaToya, you would’ve, you would’ve been, you would’ve walked out and like, nope, not doing this. After the first day, and I was telling this to my friend at lunch the other day, I felt like you go through this imposter syndrome, like, oh my gosh, what am I doing? Do I know how to do this? Do I know how to do therapy? Do you ever show up to work and think that some days you’re like, yes, do I know how to do this? After vacation, especially, when you are like, do I know how to do this? I had that feeling at the end of the day and I was like, man, I don’t know. I go back the next day and I lay it out for them, like, you guys can continue to do this, or we can do something different and I’m sending you home with the homework to figure out what you want to do because it was that bad. They came back the next day, like a new couple and something about the history of the relationship and the way that we talked about it and just saying, look, you guys can keep doing this, or you can get better. I can help you get better, but we got to get on the same page here. They came back and it was like a brand new couple and they were ready to do the work and we had a fantastic third day. So from the first moment they walked in to the moment that they left and that time something shifted for them and they were, they left with a renewed sense of hope for the relationship and really wanting to commit to it. So it ended up well, but it started out a little rocky [THERAPY NOTES] Is managing your practice, stressing you out, try Therapy Notes. It makes notes, billing, scheduling, and telehealth a whole lot easier. Check it out and you’ll quickly see why Therapy Notes is the highest rated EHR on Trustpilot with over 1000 verified customers and an average customer rating of 4.9 out of 5 stars. You notice the difference from the first day that you sign up for a trial. They offer live phone support seven days a week so when you have questions, you can quickly reach someone who can help and you are never wasting your time looking for answers online. If you’re coming from another EHR, they’ll make the transition really easy. Therapy Notes will import your client’s demographic data free of charge during your trial so you can get going right away. Use the promo code [JOE] to get three free months to try out Therapy Notes for free, no strings attached. Remember, telehealth is included with every subscription for free. Make 2022 the best year yet with Therapy Notes. [LATOYA SMITH] That’s beautiful. I just had a friend in the summertime, her and her husband went away to a different state and did these and she just loved it, like what you just said, just so refreshed admitting that it was heavy, like it’s hard work, but the beauty that was in it allowed her to see her husband differently and I was just like, man, I was so happy for her in this journey. That’s another question I have for you, and I don’t know if this is like per practice per therapist, but do you decide the type of couples you want to see? Like, would you take a couple on the verge of divorce into an intensive or do you want the people who just say, hey, I want to, we want to do better and we’re committed to doing better, so now we’re coming to you? [CAROLE] No, no, no. I mean, you do get some of those couples and those are great. The couples that come in and say, look, we’ve been disconnected for a long time and we want to get back to that place in our relationship where we feel connected. Those are great and you do a lot of great work with them, but most of the time this is an intensive, is for couples in crisis. So they’re coming in and they’re like, this is it. If we do not figure this out in these 14 hours, I’m going to the divorce attorney. Or I don’t even know that’s what was happening with this last couple. We don’t even know if we want to work on this. We don’t even know if there’s enough here to try to work on this. So you really, I mean, some couples come in, you’re my ninth therapist. We’ve done this nine times. You’re the ninth therapist that we’ve had, so this is it. We’re giving it all we got, but this is it. This doesn’t work. We’re going to decide to separate. So there’s a lot on the line. [LATOYA] Yes. [CAROLE] It’s a lot of pressure. [LATOYA] So how does a therapist somebody who’s listening, maybe they love working with couples or just would like to start? How do you even implement, how do you even schedule 14-hour blocks in your day and then maintain a caseload or then grow a practice? What does that even look like your schedule? [CAROLE] So my recommendation would be if you’re just, if you’ve never done an intensive before, I would not just jump in to a 14-hour intensive. That’s not how I started. It’s a lot. I’ve built a curriculum over time. [LATOYA] Oh that’s awesome. [CAROLE] Yes, it started, I started doing longer sessions. That was what I first did. I went from a 50-minute session to a two-hour session. Then I would do like a half-day intensive that was maybe three or four hours and you get comfortable with that and then you build and do the longer and longer and longer. You don’t just dive in and do a three day intensive unless you know what you’re doing with curriculum and you have a good understanding of what that, where it could go wrong really. Because you can have the curriculum and have it laid out on paper. It is not going to go the way you plan for it to go. It’s just not, especially with couples in crisis. They come in and they’re all over the place and then they drop a bomb on you in the third hour and then you’re going somewhere else so you didn’t think you were going to be going. And that takes, I think that takes time and experience to know how to handle those situations because now you’ve got three more hours you got to figure out what to do. So I would recommend for someone who has never done them before, but really is interested and excited about it, to start with longer sessions with your more difficult couples. Do two-hour sessions and then offer half day intensives, maybe like a three or four hour sessions to start that way with maybe couples that you’ve already been working with or a brand new couple, just doing that assessment period, that assessment piece and then build on that and build your curriculum. I used to just do the one day. I used to just do the one day intensive, which was just the assessment piece, so that was what I was talking about earlier where we did the, what’s currently going on in the relationship and then doing the history of the relationship. Then I do individual sessions with each partner. I use the Gottman relationship checkup assessment, which is fantastic. It gives you so much information. I have the couple fill that out prior to the intensive so I can evaluate it and assess it and read it and then I give them the results of that at the end of day one and we talk about their strengths. [LATOYA] I love that advice that you give, like don’t just jump into 14 hours because that’s little bit overwhelming but to start with the 50 and then, or give, I’ve heard that before two people give options. Okay, listen, now we can go a bit longer, let’s extend the session. Because one, it sounds like the therapist is also building their own stamina to be able to handle that at of time and not just in there rambling or winging it. [CAROLE] Yes, it’s like running a marathon. You don’t just decide you’re going to go and run a marathon, you train for it. It’s the same thing. [LATOYA] Absolutely. That’s awesome. So then how do you, I love that you broke that time period down, but then how’s it work with other clients? Do you have to limit your individual case clients because you may have an intensive? [CAROLE] Yes, so when I was working full-time, not seeing clients full-time anymore, so it’s a little different from me now, but when I was seeing 25 clients a week on average, my schedule was Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and I would do full caseload those three days. Then when I had an intensive, I would either do, like, I remember, I was just doing one day intensives back then so I would do them on a Friday or a Monday. if it was a two day as I was doing them more frequently, I would do the Friday, Saturday or Friday, Saturday, Monday, so I was doing it on the off days when I wasn’t seeing clients. Now I see less clients, so I see clients on Wednesdays and Thursdays, so now I do like a Monday, Tuesday, Friday, or I bump my Wednesday clients to Friday so I have a little more flexibility. And I spread them out, so clients ask too should we do the three days back to back? Should we spread them out? How should we do them? Because I let them break them apart. Not everybody does that. I know some colleagues of mine have to do the three days together, but I don’t, I think there’s benefit to also spreading them out. They don’t have to be back to back. So I have one that’s upcoming that’s going to be a Friday, Monday, and then the following Friday and it gives them a chance to practice a little bit or think about and process what they’ve learned and come up with maybe more questions or something else that they want to work on. So it gives them some time in between and then they come back and we can process, well what was it like three days without therapy and you’ve had a chance to think about things and they come back with that perspective and we talk about that. So I don’t think it’s a big deal. I even had one where I did three Fridays in a row over three weeks. I’m flexible with that. Not everybody is, but I think there’s some benefit to that, especially if you have a client that, having that, you have to have a long attention span to be able to sit. I break it up, like we take lots of breaks and stretch your legs and take a minute and get lunch but yes, for some folks sitting in even a 50-minute session is a lot. So if I have a client that has attention difficulties, then for sure we split it up. We don’t do it back to back. [LATOYA] No, I love that. I love that. You’re not, are you the only one in the practice doing it? Is everybody, all the other people who focus on couples, are they able to do it too or do you teach —? [CAROLE] Yes, I’m training them too. They’re going to all be offering them very shortly here. I like for my clinicians to be fully licensed before they offer the intensives. Even though my practice is a little different, I guess, than other practices, I have graduate student interns and they train with me and they do co-therapy with me during the intensives. So I typically have an intern with me throughout the three days and they learn, they’re basically learning how to do an intensive themselves. So then they, if they decide to stay with the practice as an associate licensed in North Carolina, it’s called an associate license, which means they’re licensed, but they’re still under supervision, I know it’s called different things in different states, they’ve already been with me for a year or more as an intern so they already know how to do the intensives and they’re well-equipped to do them the way that I do them. But I like for them to be fully licensed because it gives them a chance to, what I’m learning about associate license clinicians in group practice is that they need a lot of support in building a caseload, managing their schedule, learning how to manage the administrative part. So there’s a lot of the administrative piece that they’re navigating that they need some time to figure out and then to like throw an intensive in there would probably disrupt their learning that first year or so. So I’d like to give them a chance to get settled in the practice and get a good handle on their caseload and the administrative tasks that go along with it and then they can add something new. So that gives them the time to build their confidence even though they know how to do them in my practice, how to do it as an intern. but this gives them a chance to just get that that confidence as a new therapist. I think that’s a better way to do it. [LATOYA] How do you, I mean, how would you say for yourself, like man, these intensives really helped you to grow your practice? Did you see like a huge boost once you started offering them? Was it something that people around you weren’t doing so was like, hey, this is what sets apart? [CAROLE] Yes, so I was the first certified Gottman therapist in North Carolina and I think just being the only one in the area, other people were doing Gottman and were different levels of Gottman, but when you’re certified, it’s just a different level of people reach out for that more. So I started getting people from other states that wanted to work with me and because I wasn’t licensed in those states, they would travel in and do the intensive. That’s when I really started offering them for people to come in from out of state to work with me. So they would come in from out of state, they’d spend a couple of days, we’d do this intensive and then and then they would go home and then they would come in for like little boosters. They would drive in or come in for little boosters in between, or I would, they would have therapists at home and they would work with their therapist at home and then just come in for like a little checkup thing. So I think being a certified gotten therapist, and this was, gosh over, this is probably 15 years ago, was probably a good draw. Then the intensives were tied to that and the more people were looking for intensives and looking for Gottman therapy started getting more clients that way. So it did build and then the local, then it started getting more local folks that were interested in it and then they would stay on as clients as well. So you build your caseload that way. [LATOYA] But I heard you mention that you developed a curriculum, like for people listening, do they have to go out and get their own? Is this something that, do you help other therapists to set up this for their own practice? What’s the good way to start? If they have nothing and they say, okay, I’ll start with two hours, but where do I go from here? Do I develop my own? Do I connect with you? What ways you can help them with that? [CAROLE] Yes, I developed it myself just through trial and error and working with clients and figuring out what works and what doesn’t work and I developed like my guideline, like here’s what I’m planning to do for these 14 hours and I have it laid out. I know what I’m going to do, but it’s customized for each client. So I do initially a 30-minute interview with each partner, so I do a consult with them both and see if they’re appropriate for an intensive first. You want to rule out couples that are either actively in addiction, domestic violence, already decided that they’re going to divorce, just haven’t told their partner yet, active affairs. So things like that. You want to rule some of that out. Once you get past that phase, then I do 30-minute consult with each partner just to understand a little bit more about why they want an intensive. Then pretty much it’s laid out for me. Like, I’m going to learn about the relationship that day, I’m going to get the history of the relationship, the individual sessions, and then I’m going to give the Gottman feedback. So that’s pretty much a standard Gottman assessment that you would do with a couple. It’s just accelerated because you’re doing it in one day. Day two and day three is interventions. I also intertwine EFT interventions and I mix the two and then I’m customizing it at that point based on what I learned from day one. But I have the basics, like I have, here are the things that I want to tackle and usually it’s 20 things. I’ll probably only get to 10 because I’m an overachiever and then I customize it based on what the couple’s bringing in. [LATOYA] Yes. Ooh, this is good. This is good and organized some good stuff. [CAROLE] I work with other therapists too. [LATOYA] Oh, good, good. So people who are listening, they want to try to, they would love to implement it, don’t have, they can still reach out to you? [CAROLE] Absolutely. Yes, I’m happy to support other therapists in learning how to do couples therapy and to be the strongest couple’s therapists that they could be because we just need more of them, anyway, that I can support other therapists. I feel like that’s definitely something I’m passionate about is teaching, mentoring, supporting [LATOYA] Absolutely. So how can people find you if they want to look into doing, like working with couples one, two implementing these intensives? [CAROLE] They can go to my website, which is my therapistnc.org, like North Carolina .org. On that page, there’s a Contact Me form they can fill out. We also have my supervision page. There’s an application or a contact form that they can fill out on my supervision page within the website and just reach out to me and say, “Hey, I’d like some consultation or supervision around this issue.” I’d be happy to get back to them and help. Our phone number is on there as well. They can call us on the website, but that’s the best place to reach us. [LATOYA] Awesome. I hope you get, I know you’re like, man, my time is busy, but a bunch of phone calls, because I think what you’re doing is absolutely amazing, just to know that you built it one, you were the first Gottman certified therapist in North Carolina. That was, you threw that in there, I heard you. [CAROLE] I’m so excited about that. [LATOYA] But then also what you have taken from 50 minutes, like this passion from a young kid, 50 minutes and built it to 14 hours, I’m going to say 14 days, 14 hours, I can’t imagine the amount of people you blessed, helped save some marriages. This is just amazing. I know you’re like, I’m busy already, but I see this even going bigger and I’m not sure how, maybe with the — [CAROLE] Oh, well you’re going to help me though. [LATOYA] I’m good. I’m just, I’ll just do another podcast interview. That’s what I’m going to do. [CAROLE] You’ll be getting calls from me at midnight. You know that [LATOYA] What you’re doing is amazing. Any other thoughts you want to leave with like the listeners, especially those who are interested in working with couples or interested in building and using this to build their practice? Any other helpful tips or thoughts you want to leave with them? [CAROLE] Oh, that’s a good question. I would say getting trained in a particular method is probably, and I recommend Gottman or EFT. Obviously I’m certified in those two, but there’s a good reason, I did a lot of research and I also encourage my therapist in and my interns to pick a method, immerse yourself in it, become really good at it before you start trying to interweave lots of different methods. It’s good to feel confident and solid in one couple’s therapy method. The Gottman method has so many strengths for new therapists. It has a structure. It is tangible, it is quick results and I think that couples really connect with it. That’s a great one for new therapists starting out that need the structure that don’t really know where to begin with couples. I love that one for new therapists. EFT is just magic. It’s just pure magic in the room. Couples just change in such a deep way and build such a bond and a connection. It’s just so powerful. So I’m really like, I love that method as well. It’s just a little bit different. It’s a little bit harder for new therapists right out of the gate if they’re not attachment based naturally but either one would be a great place for a new therapist learning to do couples therapy to start to build their confidence with couples. That would be something I would recommend. [LATOYA] I think that’s great. That’s great information that you provide. Just that alone, I mean the whole part, everything you’re talking about is interview is great. That alone is a mazo. Carole, thank you so much for being a guest on the podcast. I really appreciate you, admire you for the hard work you’re doing, but appreciate you for taking your time out of your day. [CAROLE] Thank you so much for having me. [LATOYA] No problem. Thanks once again to Therapy Notes for sponsoring this episode. Use the promo code [JOE] to get three free months to try out Therapy Notes for free, no strings attached and remember, telehealth is included with every subscription for free. If you love this podcast, please be sure to rate and review. This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regards to the subject matter covered. It is given with the understanding that neither the host, the publisher, or the guests are rendering legal, accounting, clinical, or any other professional information. If you want a professional, you should find one.