Couples counseling with toddler in tow

My husband and I really want to try couples counseling. We are having a hard time and want to find a better way to get through it. 

Are there any therapists in the Berkeley/Richmond area that allow toddlers to come too? I am having a hard time justifying an expensive therapy session plus a couple hours of babysitter to make this happen. 

Parent Replies

Parents, want to reply to this question? Sign in to post.

We bring our 6-month-old baby to our marriage counselor and she is AMAZING. She's in Lafayette, but we consider the 20 minute drive out there totally worth it. Her name is Kathleen Haley. https://www.kathleenhaley.com/

Don't do this. Young children can understand more than you think, even if they can't really process it. And you'll be inhibited from speaking the truth and grappling with scary adult issues if your kid is there. That would be a true waste of money. Confide in friends and have them watch your child during these sessions, and then trade care for their kids. Most parents of young kids will understand!

I would strongly advice taking on the expences of a babysitter for your toddler while working on your relationship as a couple. Not only would one or both of you be distracted during therapy, but children (even newborns!) pick up on tension and parent’s bodylanguage, facial expressions, tone of voice and general feelings. If there is a problem with communication between you and your partner, I am sure you don’t want to expose your child to an hour of intense stress every week. Typically the child will react with increased activity, clinging, general miscontentment and/ or crying. Ex. look in to research like the still face experiment on YouTube, it has a powerful message. I think you should fully focus on improving your relationship and give it your best shot at it without kids present in the room. 

Best wishes & good luck in therapy!

We worked with Suzanne Behrens, and I found her to be very insightful. She's very good at creating an environment where both partners can express their feelings fully but respectfully, and at finding common ground between you that perhaps is being overlooked.

I cannot imagine being able to do this work with my children in the room, and especially not a toddler when the need for attention is high. I think it is a false economy to try and save on child care in this situation. Divorce will cost you both and your child a huge amount, both financially and emotionally. 

That said, you could check with Suzanne to see if she can do this, or knows anyone else who can. 

I don’t know about any therapists that do/don’t allow it, but as someone who has spent a fair amount of time in couples therapy (and found it extremely helpful), I honestly cannot imagine any way that you could bring yourself fully to a therapy session while also watching out for your toddler. It might save you the expense of the babysitter, but I think it would even out in that your therapy session would be at most half as productive. 

Agree with what's been mentioned before -- my wife and I did couple's counseling and there's absolutely no way we could have had the insights and openness we had if our daughter had been there. If you cannot spare the babysitter expense, try and find a family member or trusted friend to watch them. Alternatively, you might consider doing a phone or Skype therapy session during naptime or after your child goes to bed.