What is Couples Therapy?
Couples therapy is a type of psychotherapy conducted by licensed medical experts (psychologists or counsellors trained in addressing concerns related to marriage and family relationship issues) professionals to help couples improve their relationship by helping them address specific concerns and resolve conflicts if any.
Guided and supported by the therapist, both partners are encouraged to actively participate in the process and to communicate honestly and openly with one another.
Therapeutic Approaches in Couples Therapy
In couples therapy, a multitude of techniques from various therapeutic approaches is used. They are briefly mentioned below, such as:
- Emotion-Focused Therapy– Briefly, the focus of this approach lies in helping couples express and understand each other’s emotions.
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy– To help partners identify and change negative thoughts or behavioural patterns.
- Family Systems Therapy– To help couples to view themselves as part of the bigger picture, like their family for instance to allow them to understand the impact of that particular system on their relationship.
- Imago Relationship Therapy- The focus of this therapeutic approach lies in helping couples become aware of and transform their subconscious patterns to improve communication.
- The Gottman Method- This method is aimed at teaching partners specific skills and tools to improve intimacy and communication.
- Solution-Focused Therapy- To help couples shift their focus from their mutual problems to helping them identify their goals for the relationship.
- Narrative Therapy- In this approach, the couple’s concerns are narrated back to them to make them understand their relationship from a different perspective.
These are some examples of common techniques and therapeutic approaches that are used in couples therapy. Please note that the use of these will vary depending on the needs of the couples as well as what the therapist may find suitable.
Why and when should couples go to couples therapy?
It is generally advised for couples to seek couples therapy when either one or both persons in the relationship are unable to resolve their concerns and or ones they may have as a couple, which in turn contributes to significant distress in their relationship.
However, this does not mean that couples therapy cannot be sought in the absence of a conflict or distress in the relationship. Therapy can be beneficial for those couples who are just in the beginning stages of their relationship to couples who have been together for many years.
Benefits of therapy for couples in different stages of their relationship
- Partners looking to improve their communication (helps with learning new skills to communicate effectively)
- Partners who want to work through conflicts in their relationships (financial concerns, infidelity, differences in parenting styles, emotional/ sexual incompatibility, etc.)
- Partners who are interested in strengthening their relationship and deepening their emotional connection
- Partners looking for support to cope with major life changes like the loss of a job, the birth of a child, the death of a loved one, etc.
- Partners who want to address sexual and or intimacy-related concerns like differences in sexual desire, sexual dysfunction (that one of them or both may have) etc.
The Subjective Nature of the “Gold Standard”
What may be considered the “gold standard” in the field of psychotherapy is completely subjective and can vary depending on the practitioner and the clients as what works for one couple may not necessarily be applicable for another. Therefore, suitable therapeutic approaches are used on a case-to-case basis. However, Emotion Focused Therapy (EFT) is considered to be one of the most effective approaches in couples therapy and has proven to improve emotional connection and resolve relationship distress.
Please note that couples therapy is often a planned, structured, step-by-step process that takes anywhere from a few sessions to several months’ worth of sessions, based on the issues being addressed. It is mutually worked upon by the couple and the therapist.
Experiencing conflicts or distress in a relationship is quite common and there is absolutely no need to feel embarrassed about it. Concerns that a couple may have can be influenced by a variety of factors like age, work, finances, family history, cultural background and individual psychological factors affecting their behaviour and health. Therefore, it is important for couples to take a comprehensive and holistic approach to assess and address such concerns as a couple. For such an intervention to be successful, it often requires addressing multiple interrelated factors to promote long-lasting positive changes in the relationship.
Author Bio: Anoush Gomes, a trailblazing writer and healthcare advocate at Allo Health, combines empathy, wit, and charisma to create engaging content that simplifies complex medical concepts and inspires readers to prioritize their wellbeing. With a background in Biomedical Sciences and journalism, Anoush has contributed to various health publications, becoming a beloved storyteller with a loyal following. Their passion for preventive medicine and holistic wellness drives them to empower individuals through informative and entertaining articles. Anoush Gomes is a force to be reckoned with in the health writing community, consistently breaking barriers and redefining the role of health writers in the modern age.