We want to value everyone’s concerns in this time of COVID-19. To help with this, if you feel sick, have been recently exposed, or have a concern of meeting at our office, we want you to know that we offer the option of web-based (telehealth) counseling sessions. Ideally, we like to meet our clients for the first session in person, but these are unique times. We have a private office space and our own separate entrance, with only 4 – 6 people in the office at one time. We take time to wipe down touchable surfaces (knobs, seating, etc.) in between sessions. We are also willing to wear masks or face shields upon request during your session. We will still plan on being available for ‘in person’ sessions in our office space.
Please let us know if you have any concerns.
Learn about our Des Moines area (locations in Urbandale and Winterset) counseling and therapy services. Each couple has the power to make our community better by making their relationship better. Each time we start with a new relationship we’re inspired to wonder what good can happen all around us be your relationship is better than ever. Work with Rick & Monique Elgersma as your co-therapists help you make your relationship stronger and resilient. Are you at your “best ever” relationship? If the answer is “no” come and see us at Real Connections Counseling. Looking forward and hope-filled!
In The Clouds
Your heads were in the clouds, and fairies were milling about the specks of sun. Most of you who are getting married to those who married long ago remember the day they believed in Unicorns and riding rainbows. The wedding day is a good time to leap atop the clouds or ride on rainbows.
But now you know that when your marriage started, the real work started as well. After the rings were on your fingers, you went home and started living.
Of course we’re all about dreams, fun and even a unicorn or two, but let’s get real for a moment. Your wedding was great, but most likely expensive. And know that more often than not the end of a relationship can cost you a great deal more. Therefore, you can’t only let life happen to you. You can’t only live with your head poked through the clouds hoping for magic fairy dust to keep everything going.
Even the best marriages have challenges. And 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 Monique & Rick are here to tell you that when your relationship is done right 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, not to mention bankruptcy.
Do this the right way. Give the gift of a life-long relationship. Give the gift of counseling to each other. Or else they can call up their favorite fairy and have her give ya a call, how’s that sound? Truth is, that doesn’t sound good at all! Good relationships take good old fashioned practice, not a pile of fairy dust.
Pursuit of Life
But right now some of you are hurt, lonely, and even heartbroken. Monique & Rick know you’ve lost trust, and that you may be at your wits end. 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. They’ll be a great help to you in the counseling room.
Monique & Rick have also seen many marriages made up of people who are married, but not really together. Do you seem to have one life, and your spouse another life altogether?
Any one of the above scenarios could be you. Togetherness doesn’t always come naturally. You need to practice a different, positive pursuit of your relationship, and your love life. Where you are right now does not need to be. Where you dream you can be, can be your reality. That’s where we come in!
At Real Connections Counseling Monique & Rick help inspire real connection with your loved ones, as you learn to experience the fullness of you, your life, your relationships, and the pursuit of your dreams.
Trying Is Not Practice
Life and relationships take practice. There’s hardly ever a quick fix. At Real Connections Counseling Monique & Rick often say, “Trying is not practice!” What does that mean?
Remember when you were a kid in front of a piano, a basketball, or something like a book? When you first played a note, tried to dribble, or read such a thing as “See Spot Run” you were pretty terrible at it. Many of you were encouraged to practice and when you did, amazing things started happening for you. Well that’s the same for relationships.
When you hear someone say, “I tried and it didn’t work!” What do many of you say? You say, “well keep trying,” or “keep practicing.” Monique & Rick say that too. You must practice your relationship. You can’t say you’ve “tried” and give up. Anything practiced will improve.
You build skills because you do not 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. Our desire is that, with time and support, you will know healing, and renewed hope.
Practice Can Make Beautiful
It’s time to give them a call. Monique & Rick constantly look forward to helping you.
Like anything you practice, when you practice your relationship, you’ll do way better than poke your heads through clouds. And the cost of making this happen will be a mere fraction of the cost if you don’t. The potential gains are exponentially greater.
We don’t try around here, we go to work. Practice might not make perfect, but practice can make beautiful.
Practice And Thrive!
Allow Real Connections Counseling 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.
Monique & Rick are proud of their experience in helping many relationships to become healthy. How are they so successful?
They do this together. They help relationships be their best by bringing their own relationship into the room! Monique and Rick (the husband-wife counseling team!) work for you at Real Connections Counseling in a way that’s unique in Des Moines, the surrounding areas, and even the entire country. It’s called Co-Therapy.
Co-Therapy – What Makes Us Unique
Imagine what it’s like when a real couple in a real marriage both get to be your counselors. They’ll bring a wealth of expertise with them for you, but they also bring a wealth of relationship foibles, mistakes, trials, triumphs and successes from their own marriage to you. Co-therapy is what sets Monique & Rick apart from any other counseling system in Iowa. Yes, they both spend time together with another couple in the room.
Co-therapy reduces bias, improves awareness and creativity, and elevates effectiveness so that your relationship struggles, hardships, and worst days are more likely to brighten into great days.
The thing is, when you go into the counseling room with a single counselor, the mind says, “I’m with an expert who may or may not help, and who may or may not understand. When you’re with a real married couple who are couple’s counselors, there’s something in the mind that says, “I’m with experts to be sure,but we’re with someone that stands a good chance of understanding us.”
With the Elgersmas in the room with you you both are most likely to be heard, understood, respected, helped, and healed.They’re the experts, yes. But they open their real lives, and real normal with you in that room, and that’s sometimes been as important as their expertise.
Give them a call now at 515-635-1805. Your experience with them will be one of the best investments in you that you’ll ever make. Ever.
Continue reading about the range of beautiful and amazing benefits you’ll receive when you choose both Rick & Monique to be your counselors.
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, and they consistently make sure none of you feels ganged up on. Monique and Rick sometimes choose to purposefully ally with one of the two which levels the “playing field.” How does that sound to you? They’d bet pretty good.
With the both of them there you’re simply allowed to settle in and get to the work of healing. They create a safe environment so you can settle in, build trust in them, and gain confidence. Sometimes there’s even time to have a little fun!
You can be comfortable knowing that your counselors care a great deal for your relationship, and the enhancement of you and your partner. How does that happen? One of the ways is they do that is that either Monique or Rick chooses to to observe the dynamics happening in the room while the other leads the therapy session. This is only one of the many significant 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! They are compassionate, hopeful, empathetic, and loving.
Monique & Rick are honored to work with you, and do so with integrity. They are well educated, both having graduated from Regis University in Colorado with their Masters degrees in Marriage and Family Therapy. Regis remains one of the most respected schools for counseling in the world. Rick also has a Masters degree in Family Life Education from Oxford Graduate School. You can trust their expertise.
But perhaps more importantly, the couple have nearly 27 years of a relationship that includes a wide array of ups and downs that’ll play a part in your counseling experience. That, and they simply love to be counselors. They are continuously interested in how to help you make your life better!
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!
Fees & Insurance
The Elgersmas do not take insurance. They simply can not bill for two therapists in the room. They researched session prices throughout the city and discovered session prices between $130 and $240. They wanted their important services to be reachable and so instead of charging an amount expected for two therapists (well over $200), they decided to set their price at $155 per session (but there’s a $5 discount for cash or check!) which is about where one therapist would set his or her price. If you’re a family of 4 or more, your session price is just $190.
Price always matters whether you’re rich, poor, or someone in the middle. Expense seems to matter less when a person is entertained in the process. When you’re suffering, or when you need help managing the pace of your lives, price matters more. Just know that with Rick & Monique you’ll receive something unique, and utterly special. And you’ll make your best relationship happen in the process.
Couples spend thousands at their wedding, and some even spend millions as their marriage disintegrates. How many of you would be willing to say that spending a little money now to improve your relationships will save me a bunch of money because I’m not spending more at its destruction? You’ll always remember the day you said, “I’m going to save my relationship.” The emotional and financial costs of breaking up far outweigh the relief and satisfaction you’ll feel as things get better, and as you choose to go for it!
What if you could be 10%, or 20% better? Or, what if you could actually save your relationship? What if you guys could get better, even be better than ever? What if you could … heal?
The benefits of having the both of them in the counseling session with the couple or family is most important to them, and the most important part of the Real Connections Counseling experience. They want to make what they do together reachable for as many couples as they can..
They’ve seen so much good come from co-therapy! Some of their couples tried counseling before, and either one, or both of them felt disconnected from one counselor, and a few felt ganged up on. They don’t want to bash other counselors. Other counselors in the city do excellent work, but the couples that seek Monique & Rick do so because they’re excited about the amazing things that happen because there were two people there with them.
Couple after couple has come away from Real Connections Counseling powerfully different, and many have stated they felt better, safer, and more connected because Monique & Rick were there with them. Monique & Rick value the benefits for the couple far and above the price, and yet it’s such a small price to pay to save your relational lives.
You Have Expertise: 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, Post-Traumatic Stress, sensory integration disorder, and play therapy. They approach therapy from a perspective preferring the relationship. That doesn’t mean they glue your heads together and all you a couple. So you’re not getting along, and you don’t have much hope? They do. They have hope that you can get way better. They believe in you. Do you?
And they continue to gain training. They never stop learning . As members of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT), they maintain the highest level of professionalism and expertise.
It’s In The Name: “Real Connections”
Their heart for you, is in their name: “Real Connections Counseling.” What is a real and excellent connection anyway? Well, like a gardener must tend to all the pieces of growing a garden made of all the best foods, such as watering the garden, a spouse or partner must tend to his or her love of his/her life.
Like in a garden when you allow bad, negative stuff to flourish, your relationship will be overrun, and your true and beautiful connection potentially destroyed. A flourishing garden means pulling weeds, watering, and planting where the sun can land right on top of it. A real connection in a relationship is about things like good communication, vulnerability, sex, intimacy and learning to prefer your partner over all others. Both produce something remarkable!
Monique & Rick give you examples from their marriage to help you “pull” the negative stuff that’s hurting you, and throw the hurt away. They also help you learn how to tenderly grow and fortify the good stuff about you, and your relationships. When you do, what’s good about you not only flourishes, but also becomes completely remarkable.
Real connections mean you can live in ever renewing hope.
We Know About Co-Therapy. Now, What Is A Session Like?
You’ve learned that co-therapy with Rick and Monique will occur with great care, in a safe and understanding environment. You know that you’ll talk, do activities, ponder new things, and even sit in silence sometimes. But you’ll be heard understood and respected. But what is the actual session like?
Your First Counseling 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. Your first session with Monique & Rick includes paperwork, getting to know you, and an overview of goals, and expectations, followed by questions from you. We discover who you are, and 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 discovery of you.
These early pieces are all important for us to build a great and customized counseling system designed especially for you. The second session and all the following sessions is where the work will hit full stride.
Sounds ominous right? Well it’s not too bad. The forms keep you as informed about us as we are about you. We’ve made it pretty simple though.
You can go straight to our “Forms” page on our website (this one 👉🏼 https://www.realconnectionscounseling.com/forms) and download the appropriate intake form. You’ll both need to complete your own form and bring it with you to your first session.
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.
Again, 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–
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 you and your partner, or your family to flourish.
Come early. Settle into the environment. Look through a magazine, a paper, or a book from the bookshelf. Simply sit and breathe.
We do several types of counseling at Real Connections Counseling: Marriage Prep (premarital counseling), Couple Counseling, Marriage Counseling, and Family Counseling. We also do play therapy for adults!
Such a wonder new relationships are. Like seeing a shooting star, or the Northern Lights for the first time, new relationships are full of timeless love. They are the freshness of mountain air, or an ice-cream sundae in the heat of summer … on the outside. On the inside many of Monique & Rick’s yet-to-be-married couples are all butterflies and jitters. New things are scary for most people. They got them fully in hand too. They work hard with their premarital couples, but they have some fun with them too.
They’re full of tools, and games, and things to practice. They start them off with a comprehensive questionnaire the covers most issues one could think of to process before the big day. But they also help them build boundaries, and a strong communication standard. Along the way they discover their conflict pattern (everyone has them), and how to interrupt the less healthy pieces of their conflict pattern. There’s more. Much more. They provide three different Marriage Prep packages, and depending on what they choose to do they can save 50% off their regular session rate! Rest assured that you, or your children will be better prepared for their life together than most before they even tie the knot.
The Marriage Prep Packages
The Best, most cost effective, and most comprehensive plan is the Marriage Prep 10 session Package. It includes what would be considered 10 HALF-PRICE sessions at a total of $790 = $79/session fee (5% cash discount, so the sessions are $75 if paid in cash). We normally charge $150/session for regular client sessions. Couples gain the opportunity to really dig deep into the answers on the Questionnaire, and work through skills for dealing with Conflict, Communication and Trust – the top THREE issues we see in our practice.
CHECKING IT OUT (a gentle push for premarital) which is our 6-Session Package: 6 Discounted Sessions $600 for package = $100/session fee (5% cash discount, so the sessions are $95 if paid in cash/check or $570 total)
COMMITTED TO KNOW MORE with is our 8-session Package: 8 discounted sessions $712 for package = $89.50/session fee (5% cash discount, so the sessions are $85 if paid in cash/check or $680 if paid in full)
With all three packages, we still have you complete the questionnaire (we give it to you at the initial session to be completed as “homework”), but we won’t dive as deep into some of the topics, as we won’t have time to cover them all.
NOTE: If you wish to continue to see us beyond the number of sessions in a package we will continue to see you AT THE SESSION RATE ATTACHED TO THAT PACKAGE for the first two years of marriage and will likely give a discount after that as well, if you want to see us for maintenance sessions. For instance – If you choose the 10 session package, the 11th session and onward will be charged at $79 ($75), and so on. Our normal session rate for both of us is $150, so you’ll be gaining a significant discount from our full rate no matter what. If you’re confused, just call us (515-635-1805) and we’ll clear it up for you!
NOTE #2: You do not have to pay for the entire package up front. You can pay the ongoing ‘per session’ fee as long as you are current at the last session. PreMarial Counseling
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 jeopardize the dance, and even the other’s safety. Likewise, your ‘unhealthy dance moves’ today potentially jeopardize your relationships… maybe you are stepping on each other’s toes! Read more …
Look, you’re not all getting married. There are relationship issues every couple faces whether you’re a start-up, tune-up, fix-up, or all out repair couple. But married people have their own issues separate from unmarried people, that’s why Monique & Rick distinguish the two. They have specific tools, and pieces of homework geared toward you.
Perhaps you have baggage from other relationships that you want to work through together. Maybe you have concerns about commitment remaining your own person, and what that looks like in your 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.
No matter what, as with Marriage Counseling, they will approach therapy with a preference to the relationship.
Read more …
Choosing family counseling? Family dynamics are way more than tricky sometimes. Whether you’re a sister, brother, mom, dad, grandparent, cousin, or in-law you affect the entire family just by being you. Sometimes families experience sudden loss, or experience a major change in the family and that makes for a large bucket of emotions. We can help sort them through. There are other family issues they’ve seen too, and it’s their pleasure to serve you. It’s important to note that you’re not the problem, the problem is the problem. You can fight the problem together.
Making that ultimate choice for family counseling can’t be easy, but Monique & Rick 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.
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!
Play Therapy For Adults!
Our agency is unique when it comes to play therapy because we 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, the first thing to go is playfulness. Some of you may get to play with the toys, and build castles in the sandbox. All of it will be designed to make your best relationship happen for you!
Nervous? That’s Ok!
Choosing to allow Monique & Rick to train and counsel you on your issues and find your strengths and weaknesses can cause angst, and maybe embarrassment or self consciousness. But we assure you that whether just getting started, needing a tuneup, or in an all out marriage or family crisis we can move you from frustration and confusion, despair and hurt, to clear, determined, and happy. You’ll find Real Connections Counseling to be a safe place where you can experience hope again.
You Can Do This!
You can do this. We encourage you to call or write us at Real Connections Counseling, and we’ll be ready to go. 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, 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.