Emergency Relationship Coaching (ERC) Compared to Marriage/Couples Counseling (MC)
In my practice, I do both Emergency Relationship Coaching (ERC) and Marriage/Couples counseling (MC). I will refer to Emergency Relationship Coaching as ERC and Marriage and Couples Counseling as MC.
What is ERC?
When I get a call from a couple who perceives that their relationship is at the edge of disaster, and the possibility of divorce seems imminent, I offer Emergency Relationship Coaching ERC. Whenever possible, I try and see these folks either the same day or, at most, within 48 hrs.
ERC is a skill based educational program. It is not a substitute for Marriage or Couples Counseling. It provides the bridge from an imminent breakup to being ready to engage in the longer, deeper and more involved process of Marriage and Couples Counseling – which will hopefully lead to a more stable, more fulfilling and long lasting relationship.
ERC is an Educational Process
Emergency Relationship Coaching (ERC) is an educational approach teaching the skills of:
- De-escalation/self regulation.
- Anger Management/Reduction.
- “Gentle” negotiation Skills.
- Gentle Negotiation skills is a new model for conflict resolution which moves from a win/lose mind set to a win/win perspective.
- It involves “playing your best game,” not “beating the other team.”
- Constructive communication:
- What is good communication – and how do we increase it?
- What is bad communication and – how do we correct it?
These 4 skills will help couples move toward recovering their relationship through Marriage or Couples Counseling – should they (hopefully) decide to pursue it.
A relationship can be like a baseball game. You and your partner are on the same team. Your opponent? A divorce or breakup. You are in the 9th inning, and your team seems to be losing against a seemingly undefeatable opponent. Suddenly, the coach comes in with some new ideas and a new strategy that will help you defeat the other team. Suddenly, your team has a real chance to win.
ERC has as its focus the changing of feelings about viability of the marriage through Marriage Counseling. It is a strategy to go from hopeless to possible.
ERC is a stop-gap process that helps get individuals or couples emotionally available for MC.
ERC sets the stage for MC to begin through focusing on problem solving. It can help couples to observe the dysfunction and, through a variety of approaches, to get past those problems.
ERC intervention is constructed using a wide variety of strategies and techniques borrowed from a variety of disciplines. ERC’s short term goal is that of creating a bridge where none may seem possible at the devastating moment.
ERC compared to MC goals
ERC’s Goal #1: Stopping the negative energy within a couple’s relationship.
ERC’s initial goal begins with listening. It begins with gathering information to help the couple appreciate the problems that have caused damage to the relationship.
ERC’s #2 goal is to provide hope that there is information and a strategy that can create a plan for emotional reconnection.
EMC’s #3 goal is to create stability in the communication with the couple.
Like emergency medical treatment, whose goal is to create physical stability for the patient – Getting the client/couple stable and more in balance can help them be in a position to benefit from the help available from longer term MC.
The Difference between ERC and MC
ERC has a skills-building educational focus whose goal is to get past the presenting crisis, while MC is a type of psychotherapy for a married couple or established couple that helps to resolve problems that have occurred in the relationship through a relatively longer term therapeutic intervention.
One basic difference is that Relationship Coaching is not reimbursable through insurance
MC – is covered in some insurance policies
ERC is typically 1- 3 sessions where as (MC) is often 6 to 15 sessions or more.
ERC will take sessions one session at a time. At the end of each session there will be a review to see if the couple or individual is ready to engage in MC. Marriage Counseling seeks to get commitment to the counseling process and will often ask for a several session “contract” to allow for the process to get traction.
ERC is focused on the present; whereas MC may well go into the past or future in addition to the present as well as the intertwining of those three perspectives.
ERC will look through the windshield whereas MC may look through the windshield, rear view mirrors, and to the side as well.
ERC does not use psychiatric diagnosis in it’s coaching (i.e. Borderline Personality, Personality Disorder, Dissociative Identity Disorder)
ERC does not deal with the unconscious while many types of MC may venture into that area.
While MC may look at extended family issues, ERC is targeted at beginning to open up lines of communication between the couple in an immediate, present day perspective.
ERC is an educational process whose goal is to help in an immediate way; in addition, to help couples accept the benefits of MC. I can’t tell you how many clients have asked me “Do you think there is hope for this relationship?” ERC doesn’t tell them there is hope – it shows them.