Learn about our Des Moines and West Des Moines counseling and therapy services. Real Connections Counseling does marriage counseling, couples counseling, personal counseling (also known as individual therapy), family counseling, play therapy, and therapy for trauma, & post-traumatic stress (PTSD).
“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
Pursuit of Life
No matter where you are on your life journey, we aim to help you find peace 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.
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 Therapy for all ages, and our one-of-a-kind PTSD education program.
Co-Counseling – What Makes Us Unique
Real Connections Counseling is one of a small number of agencies that provide co-counseling! Co-counseling offers fantastic possibilities for individuals, couples, & families. By allowing two of us to work with you in a therapy setting, you’ll have one more person there for you, creatively working and advocating for you. The both of us want to help and be with you as you sort out hardship, until you can move confidently into your new life. We help you make your life better!
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 individuals, couples, families, and children. 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! And you can be your best, for you…
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.
Unique PTSD Education
Any Trauma event can be unbearable and intolerable. The event(s) can significantly impact your mental, physical, and social life, and can badly strain your feelings, thinking, behavior, relationships, responses, dreams, hopes, memories, and attitudes. In fact, trauma can invade your life to the point where trauma responses become destructive to you, and those around you. When symptoms affect you on-going, and for longer than 6 months, and you meet other specific criteria, you may be diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). There are a number of successful therapy approaches for healing significant trauma. We at Real Connections Counseling have been trained to help. Education about what’s happening to you is one important step to health. You’ll be provided with plenty of time to talk through confusion and distress.
Training, psycho-education, and therapy provide the best chance for change and recovery. Read more …
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 I 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 or individuals may also need family counseling periodically as they work though marriage, couples, or personal 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 the counselor 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, 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! 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.