I would like to highlight that marriage or couple counselling is different from general counselling and the beginning is somewhat complicated. I would start by having a first private meeting with the initiator of the counselling request and then I would have a private meeting with the other partner. This process is part of the first session and it usually only takes about 10 minutes, so the partner that is waiting can wait in the waiting room until they are invited to come into the session. This is a standard screening to ensure safety within the relationship between both partners. It is important to screen for power and control within a relationship and whether you access my services or the services of another counsellor this initial screening should happen. This information is important to know, because if a partner has a “secret” and it is revealed in session or the “true reason” for the relationship conflict is revealed – I’m sure you could understand this could be problematic for all parties and may even create an unsafe space between the couple or even at home.
I am not assuming this would be the case in all relationships, and people often explain their relationships as safe, find or good, but it is my role to provide a safe space to insure (to the best of my ability) safety within the home environment. It is easy to react to any kind of disclosure, whether it is anticipated or not, so that is why I screen couples in advance and privately. If you choose to go with another counsellor then that is fine with me, but you should expect and insist that the safety of all parties is the foremost goal of the clinician and all clinicians should take this approach.