Jump down to: Co-counseling | Play Therapy | PTSD Program | Specialties | What Is Counseling? | What To Expect At Your First Session | Personal Counseling | Marriage Counseling | Couples Counseling | Family Counseling | Group Therapy
Learn about our Des Moines area and Urbandale counseling and therapy services. Real Connections Counseling does marriage counseling, couples counseling, premarital counseling, family counseling, and play therapy. The work you do in our counseling room can make your world look so differently than it does now, and that is something to look forward to.
“I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I have just lived the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.” –Diane Ackerman
Life In The Clouds
Your heads were in the clouds, we know it. The wedding day is a good time to leap atop the clouds or ride on rainbows. But you know now that when your marriage started, the real work started as well. After the ring is on the finger, you went home and started living. You turned on the light at home, and you had to make things happen. Let’s get real for a moment. You can’t only let life happen to you. You can’t only live with your head poked through the clouds. Even the best marriages have challenges. But man, when it’s bad it’s bad. “Bad” rips people apart, builds resentments, destroys connections, and changes even the little things. This is how relationships, and marriages, fail.
No one can guarantee that a break won’t happen. But we’re here to tell you that when your relationship is done right – and intentionally – you stand a good chance of making it, of allowing you and your family to enjoy the good times, and be there for each other in the bad times. Learning the hard way can leave scars, and hopelessness. Let’s do this the right way. Let’s give the gift of a life-long relationship. Counseling … yeah sometimes it’s hard work, but counseling is also rewarding work. So we’ll hold the hope for you for a bit. Let’s make this happen for you, and generations from now will be grateful you did.
Pursuit of Life
Your life matters. Your relationships matter. But some of you are hurt, lonely, and even heartbroken. We know you’ve lost trust, and that you may be at your wits end. But where you are right now does not need to be the end of your love, and of your relationship. Others of you may expect that you can’t be forgiven, or loved. These are faulty messages many of us have learned to listen to. We’re here to help you, to build you up again. We’re here to help you rebuild your relationship.
And we’ve seen many marriages made up of people who are married, but not really together. They’ve moved apart, and live parallel lives, instead of together lives as a unit, a team … as one. Do you seem to have one life, and your spouse another life altogether? Could that be you? Many of us make pursuit away from relationships, away from others, even away from yourself. But we come into this world needing others, and we are here to help you practice a different, positive pursuit of life. We can help you live together lives instead of parallel lives.
Practice Can Make Beautiful
At Real Connections Counseling we’ll help you find peace, happiness, contentment, and hope in your life, with yourself, and your relationships. We want to help inspire real connection with your loved ones, as you learn to experience the fullness of you, your life, and the pursuit of your dreams. This is your courageous, but exciting pursuit of meaning, and your personal and relational health. This is your pursuit of life. Practice might not make perfect, but practice can make beautiful.
Allow Real Connections Counseling, LLC to be a part of your pursuit. Through counseling you can come alive, and your relationships can thrive! You’ll learn to live uniquely in ways that matter to you.
We’re proud of our experience in helping individuals, couples, families, and kids. First, let us highlight three unique ways Monique and Rick (the husband-wife counseling team!) work for you that makes Real Connections Counseling more unique in Des Moines and the surrounding areas: Co-Counseling, Play Therapyfor all ages, and our one-of-a-kind PTSD education program.
Co-Counseling – What Makes Us Unique
What distinguishes us from other counselors? We counsel together. Yes, we both spend time together with another couple in the room. Co-counseling reduces bias, improves awareness and creativity, and elevates effectiveness so that your relationship struggles, hardships, and worst days are more likely to be heard, understood, helped, and healed.
Imagine what it’s like when a real couple like us gets to be a couple building up other couples! We’re the experts, yes. But we open our real lives, and real normal with you in that room, and that’s been more important than expertise could ever be.
We are the only married couple co-counseling in Iowa. In fact, Real Connections Counseling is one of a small number of agencies that provide co-counseling throughout the United States!
Choose co-counseling. When you do, you’ll have a real couple helping you re-establish a stronger, more resilient, and hopeful relationship. To help you decide that co-counseling is right for you, continue reading about the range of beautiful and amazing benefits you’ll receive when you choose both Rick & Monique to work with you together.
Co-therapy allows for balance in counseling. Imagine the strain of a struggling couple. Two counselors observing and working in the room with you means there’s less of a chance we’ll miss something that would be valuable to you. An there will be fewer chances that one of the couple will be singled out. Instead the co-counselors sometimes choose to purposefully ally with one of the two. This levels the “playing field” so to speak.
Both of us counseling an individual, couple, or family can also be comforting, and often inspires confidence in the process. Sometimes there’s time to have a little fun! In a family scenario, one of the counselors can choose to observe the dynamics happening in the room, where the other therapist can be leading the therapy. This advantage also applies to groups! Catching group dynamics, nuances in the group, and even insight that might otherwise get missed, are huge co-therapy benefits!
Monique and Rick, married more than twenty years to each other, are an excellent counseling team, and can be a marriage partnership with you in the room! Co-counseling is an excellent and unique option. They are compassionate, hopeful, empathetic, and loving. Monique & Rick are honored to work with you, and do so with integrity. The couple have expansive life experience and a wide array of expertise. Most of all they’re continuously interested in how to help you make life better, and believe that the best of life is made from the quality of our relationships with each other.
Monique & Rick work with couples, and families. You’re provided a safe place to be real, and explore who you are and where you need to go to grow, develop, and/or maintain healthy relationships. In other words, you’ll learn to bring your best self to relationships (wife, husband, mother, father, friend, sibling, child, co-worker etc.), and to your world!
Play Therapy – For all ages
There are definitely great agencies in the greater Des Moines/West Des Moines area that offer play therapy, and Real Connections Counseling is one of them. Play therapy is definitely an excellent way to help children heal. Play therapy is usually applicable to younger children (generally ages 3-11), as well as tweets & teens. As a child’s trauma experiences occur they cannot verbally express how the trauma affects them. Play therapy provides a way for children to express their experiences and feelings in a language that makes sense to them…play! Play for a child is a natural, self-guided, healing process.
Couples & Families
Our agency is unique when it comes to play therapy because we also apply play therapy to couples and families. Adults play too! Many couples begin to struggle when they forget how to play. When they first date, couples naturally play with each other verbally, physically and mentally. When life settles into a routine, they often stop playing.
What is Your Specialty?
People say, “What’s your specialty?” Our specialty is relationships, and families. We have backgrounds in and specialize in depression, infertility, miscarriage, chronic disability, pain, grief & loss, trauma, military experience, PTSD, sensory integration disorder, and play therapy. We approach therapy from a relational model, also called a “systemic model.” Systemic means that we believe that all behavior changes will result in changes in the systems, such as your family, in which you will interact. Healthy relationships support mental health, and mental health supports good relationships.
We’ll use tools from narrative, behavioral, Gottman, Relational Life Therapy, play therapy, and multigenerational to promote your healing and growth. We’ll make adjustments throughout therapy when adjusting makes sense to move you to the next level.
We continue to gain training throughout our career. As members of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT), we maintain the highest level of professionalism and expertise so we can offer you our best. We’re always glad we can be with you when you go through the gutsy, the messy, the tough, and the confusing. We’re privileged to guide you through.
What is Counseling?
Counseling is a trusting and honest partnership geared to form your flourishing life. Our counseling partnerships require communication built on integrity, trust, and honor. Communication in counseling will occur with great care, in a safe and understanding environment. We’ll talk, do activities, ponder new things, and even sit in silence when we need to. From the moment you walk in our counseling office, we want you to know you are in a good place.
Our first session together will be an overview. We discover where you are emotionally and cognitively. We try to understand your heart, your needs, and what you would like to be different. Mostly, the first session is about the first parts of discovery about you, and what your concerns, and goals for therapy are.
Throughout your counseling we’ll address issues, confusion, actions, obstacles, and emotions. Together we’ll strive to make positive changes, and guide you to better things, including a better you, and improved relationships.
We’re here for you. Our heart is to help you strive to make life better. As you grow, we’ll teach strategies that will allow your life and relationships to flourish. We won’t just look at surface behaviors, but also the beliefs that create them.
So much about the “good life” is the quality of our relationships. We look forward to walking with you through this process. We’re about real connections. Our heart for you, is in our name: “Real Connections Counseling.” The way to real connection is an enriching, exciting, but sometimes difficult way. But like growing a garden made of all the best foods, such as beans, squash, carrots, and tomatoes, the garden includes weeds. Weeds, if allowed to grow, overtake and ruin the good food. We help you “weed,” and work what can be a most rewarding, and nourishing relational garden.
A flourishing garden is as much about pulling weeds at the root so they don’t return, as it is watering, and feeding the good plants. A relationship isn’t much different. When you allow bad, negative stuff to flourish, your relationship will be overrun, and potentially destroyed. We help you “pull” the negative stuff that’s hurting you, analyze and process the hurt, and send the hurt away. We also learn how to tenderly grow and fortify the good stuff about you, and your relationships. When we do, what’s good about you not only flourishes, but also becomes strong, healthy, sweet, and remarkable.
When you learn to feel relief from the heaviness of anger, pain, shame, and/or grief, you can begin living in renewed hope.
What to Expect at Your First Session
So you want to know what to expect on your first day? Good! Many, like you come into their first session apprehensive and unsure, but hopeful. Therefore trust is imperative. Trust begins with your first steps into the Real Connections Counseling Center, and the first clasp of our hands.
Come early. Settle into the environment. Look through a magazine, a paper, or a book from the bookshelf. Simply sit and breathe.
Forms: A Counseling Relationship Done Right
We’ll begin by gaining information about your lives, and your situation. We’ll ask you to complete paperwork, if you haven’t already done so. Paperwork includes our professional disclosures that help you learn about us, and our intake form also helps us learn about you. Information such as your personal history, your current situation, your relationships, and your hopes and dreams, allow us to right away pursue quality, insightful, wholistic and holistic therapy throughout our time together.
You’ll also complete the HIPAA form (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). United States legislators designed HIPAA to provide privacy and confidentiality standards that protect patients’ medical records.
You’ll find all of our forms here. We invite you to complete them now, and have them ready when you arrive. You’ll save time at the appointment, and we’ll be able to move right into what you came for, and what you need! –Forms–
Trying Is Not Practice
Life and relationships take practice. There’s hardly ever a quick fix. Remember that “trying” is not “practice.” You’ll build skills, one usually doesn’t automatically have them. Counseling can’t be a one time, “I/We tried, and it didn’t work.” We’ll practice consistently from session to session. You don’t have to get it right immediately. Like any skill, with practice, change and a better life is possible. Practice rarely makes perfect, but it can make beautiful. Our desire is that, with time and support, you will know healing, and renewed hope.
It’s time to give us a call. We look forward to helping you.
With Marriage Counseling, we work with a married couple to help improve, stabilize, or restore their relationship. Monique and I prefer your relationship, so our initial goal and direction will be to help you recognize what your relationship was, is, and could be.
We may discuss your past, your family of origin and its impact on your marriage. Sometimes we concentrate on the baggage you brought to the relationship before, and even after you were married. And maybe we will focus on your relationship dance. When couples dancers are out of step they jeapordize the dance, and even the other’s safety. Likewise, your ‘unhealthy dance moves’ today potentially jeapordize your relationships… maybe you are stepping on each other’s toes! Read more …
As with Marriage Counseling, we will approach therapy with a preference to the relationship. Sometimes the reason for therapy is that you want to start your relationship in a healthy way. You make a great decision to set your relationship straight, from the beginning.
Perhaps you have baggage from other relationships that you want to work through together, before you make a stronger or lifelong commitment. Maybe you have concerns about commitment, and want to discover that path together. Maybe you want to make sure your relationship is solid enough so you can tend to your children in the best way possible after your divorce. We will help you. Whatever your reasons for therapy, we’ll to help you take steps together, to better your relationship. Read more …
Choosing family counseling? Making that ultimate choice for family counseling can’t be easy, but I know you’ll be glad you did. When you do, the first thing you’ll hear is, “We applaud your courage!” You’ll need determination. Your hard work and attentiveness to the process can create positive and long-lasting changes for your family.
Nervous? That’s Ok!
Family counseling can be the primary choice for you! Choosing to allow another person to train on your issues and find your strengths and weaknesses can cause angst, and maybe embarrassment or self consciousness. But we assure that family counseling benefits you, and can move you from frustration and confusion, to clear, determined, and happy. We know you’ll find our counseling center to be a safe place where you can find your hope again.
Couples may also need family counseling periodically as they work though marriage, or couples counseling. You may also pursue family counseling for you and your older children as your younger children work out their issues through play therapy.
Oh The Confusion!
Familial relationships can be confusing, troubling, frustrating, and sometimes destructive. Maybe your family is blending with another family, and merging communication and tradition expectations and preferences can be huge and difficult changes to manage. Often, families struggle through transitions, such as deployments, moves, and a death in the family. Sometimes children, or a spouse had been physically, emotionally, psychologically, and/or spiritually abused. Your physical safety is our utmost priority. Your emotional, psychological, and spiritual health is our next priority. No matter what you’re here for, you can heal!
You Can Do This!
Consider taking your family to counseling. You can do this. Sometimes even multi-generations of family in counseling allows for clearer relationship change and growth, and better personal and relational lives. When each member hears and processes the same information at the same time, all gain opportunities to grapple with perpetuated problems. We encourage you and your family to use a counselor or counselors (co-counseling) at Real Connections Counseling for guidance. Our counseling center is a safe place to work out and process difficulties, and challenge each other. You can help each other grow, and change your story together! Read more…
Group therapy allows a therapist to provide support, learning, and therapy to multiple people at the same time. Better yet (we think!), group therapy allows the group to help each other. Others with similar needs and concerns are in the same room with you, and that alone creates fantastic opportunities for you! How? A group member’s life experience often proves a valuable resource for the other group members. You make each other better!
The group therapy collective learning experience allows for a level of support and knowledge that goes beyond one-on-one therapy. Group therapy works especially well for topical learning, such as life skills, living with a disability, and parenting. Read more …
“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.”
How to Contact Real Connections Counseling
Help happens here. CONTACT US now to schedule an appointment. You can call us at (515) 635-1805, or fill out the contact form, and we’ll contact you! We’re a mere couple clicks away. Counseling has been the best choice for so many, and it can be for you now too. CONTACT Rick or Monique…even both of us together! We’re easy to find. We’re at 6829 71st Street, Suite A, Urbandale, IA 50322. Directions: From Douglas, 1 block north to Madison. Right on Madison, then another right at the first driveway. Remember, your best is our heart.
Pay For Your Session(s) Right Here!
You can pay for counseling right now! Just below, you’ll find our secure PayPal processing system where you can pay for one or even multiple sessions! You can pay through your own PayPal account, a credit/debit card, your own bank, or even a gift card!
We at Real Connections Counseling, LLC want to give you the most convenient, and possibly best way to pay for counseling. That way, when you come to our office, there will be no time taken to pay, and every bit of time given to you for counseling.