What do I do if my partner does not want to come to couples counselling?

It very often happens that one of the partner is not so keen on coming to couples counselling. And fortunately or unfortunately, it is not possible to force them come. Sometimes people say they are willing to come to just one session, and that many times opens the way to further counselling sessions. It is also an option to come on your own instead. Sometimes changes you make for yourself individually will already positively influence your relationship. If one person changes, the other person often changes their position too.

How many sessions will I or we need?

This is difficult to say, as it of course really depends on your situation. My approach of systemic psychotherapy is a so-called short-term form of counselling, and on average people will have about 8-12 sessions. These sessions are often spaced out over a period of 3-5 months. However, some clients I see are happy to move on after 3 sessions, and others I have been seeing for more than a year. What most people opt for is a more intensive time of weekly or biweekly sessions at first and then space it out more and more as you move out of the initial crisis stage. So it is all up to you, and I will ask you after each session if you feel you want to schedule another one or you are going to be fine on your own for a while.

Are your sessions covered by the regular Krankenkassen?

No. In general, couples and family counselling are not covered by the Krankenkassen in Germany. Individual therapy can be covered, but for that a so-called license of “psychologischer Psychotherapeut” is required, which I do not have as I did not do my training in Germany. My license here is called “Heilpraktiker für Psychotherapie”. Individual sessions can be covered if you have a German private insurance (then ususally up to about 50% of the costs) or if you have an international health insurance (then usually up to 100%).

Why is it so difficult to find an English speaking psychologist or psychotherapist who is paid by the Krankenkassen?

In order for sessions to be covered by the Krankenkassen, a psychologist/psychotherapist needs to have a so-called “Approbation” which one can only receive if you have done all of your training in Germany.

How do I find an English speaking psychiatrist in Berlin?

This is no easy feat, but please try to call as many as you can, and eventually you will be able to find someone who is currently taking on new patients. To find a psychiatrist who speaks English, please visit: http://www.kvberlin.de/60arztsuche/index.html The website is in German, but if you go on the subpage under Arztsuche called “Erweiterte Suche”, please select under “Fachgebiete” – Psychiatrie, then go to “Sprache” and select “Englisch”. There is a list of people, and you can narrow your search by choosing your local area under “Berliner Stadtteile”. If it takes you too long, do consider calling the “psychiatrische Institutsambulanz” at your local clinic. They should have shorter waiting times, especially if your situation is urgent.

What is the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist?

As a psychologist I studied human behaviour, emotions, and relationships, and provide so-called “talking therapy”. A psychiatrist is a doctor, specialised in mental illness, and will prescribe medication. Some psychiatrists did additional training in psychotherapy, and can therefore provide both medication and talking therapy.

Do you speak German?

Yes, I speak fluent German and often use both English and German in the sessions with couples where one of the partners is German, if desired.