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First Comes Love, Then Comes...COUNSELING!

"No one wins when the family feuds"... ahh how amazing are Jay-Z quotes?!

Also, how factual?! When we last met, we discussed with Rev. Roxy, the importance of seeking counsel. today we're discussing the purpose of counseling, not only for the engaged couples but also for those in relationships still getting to know each other. Trust me, from experience, it's okay to seek couples counseling, the most healing experience ever as individuals & together as a unit. Let's get to know more about our guest as well as Marriage & Family Therapist, Shatera Monroe-James.

TEP: We always start our interviews with these two questions. Who is Shatera Monroe-James? What are three adjectives you'd use to describe yourself?

SMJ: Before I start to identify myself I always include my two most favorites titles that can never come second to anything that I dedicate my life to. I am Mommy of two beautiful girls and a wife of almost 8 years.  My family is the most important aspect in my life. They are the dedicating force and energy source that keeps me excelling. I am a mental health professional dedicated to spreading how important mental health is. My love for being a therapist stems from my work with couples and individuals. If I could describe myself with three adjectives it would be passionate, patient and resilient. At times when it seems like there is no way to push forward, I find a way to get it done. I admire that about myself. Words of wisdom: Keep pushing because tomorrow needs you. 

"Keep pushing because tomorrow needs you."

TEP: What's your personal definition of pre-marital counseling?

SMJ:Pre-martial counseling is a process that couples seek before marriage in hopes of helping couples prepare to be married. It assists couples with getting to work through their similarities and differences to be able to navigate through life together as one.

TEP:Why is Pre-Marital Counseling necessary?

SMJ: I wouldn’t say that it is necessary, my husband and I did not do it, but the thought came up. I would say that it depends on how both people are feeling about entering the life time commitment together. As an idea; what are some things that you feel will be an issue in the marriage? How do you plan to address and work through the process? If there are many concerns before committing through marriage, I would recommend it.

TEP: What comes out of pre-marital counseling? Benefits; pros & Cons

SMJ: The benefits of pre-marital counseling is that it can help you learn some underlying factors that may contribute to unhealthy patterns in your relationship. It can assist with working through your different communication styles. A con of pre-martial counseling is that there isn’t a specific guarantee that it can help the relationship. It can bring up difficult issues while revealing trauma. This can be difficult to work through in such a short amount of time.

TEP: How soon should a couple seek pre-marital counseling?

SMJ: I would say that this depends on the relationship. If you’re thinking long-term and being with someone for a lifetime, it’s never too early to look into pre-marital counseling.

TEP: Is couples counseling, (not engaged or married) a good idea? Why or why not?

SMJ: Yes, couples counseling is a good idea even if you’re not engaged or married. I believe that if you have issues within your relationship and need assistance with working through it, seek couples counseling. I also recommend seeking individual therapy because personal trauma could be affecting how we navigate in relationships. If this is the case, healing must happen on an individual level.

TEP: How long should pre-marital counseling last?

SMJ: It’s hard to place a time frame on it because it depends on the therapist evaluation of your relationship and what you and tour partner feel is appropriate. It can be weeks/months.

TEP: How do you suggest couples maintain their love during a process of counseling when things get heated or triggers are triggered?

SMJ: Try to remember the task at hand and what the main objective is. Ask your partner for space when trying to process the aftermath of sessions. Try to come up with ways after the therapy session to focus on the “present”. Focus on today, how can we continue to move forward while leaving some of the conflict in the therapy room until next session? Ask therapist for coping mechanisms to utilizing after having an intense session.

TEP: Will a counselor ever tell or warn a couple that they should not get married?

SMJ: An ethical counselor will not warn or tell a couple that they shouldn’t get married. I think it is important to make sure that you find the right therapist. Look for proper education and credentials to ensure that you are getting the proper care. A therapist only gets a glimpse into your relationship based only on what the couple reveals in sessions. No one is the expert in your relationship but you.

TEP: Tell us more about you, SWS & all you offer.

SMJ: Sessions With Shatera is a non-profit organization that was started to spread mental health awareness and how important it is to seek therapy for help. As an African American woman, culturally I seen how mental health was stigmatized in my community. Often I heard “What happens in the house, stays in the house”. I often felt that people were ashamed to get help and to appear in need. As a result many mental health diagnosis plagued the community such as drug abuse, depression and severe mental illness. I saw people struggling to cope with their trauma. I wanted to change the perspective of mental health… “one sessions at a time”. I currently offer mental health sessions to speak with couples and individuals about any issues that may be experiencing. My husband and I are big on promoting self care and recently I launched a product line called “Smudging With Shatera”. Smudging is the process of using sacred herbs such as white sage and resins to purify yourself as well as an area or space of negative vibes.

Based solely on personal experience, I am a huge advocate for therapy & counseling. I can even personally vouch for the impeccable services provided by Shatera. It's important to heal, it's important to create safe spaces, not just for a significant other, but also for yourself. For all of your mental health and smudging needs please visit

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Stay tuned for more #ConfettiConfession Features coming very soon!

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