‘Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.’
– Maya Angelou
What is Couples Therapy?
Couples therapy is a type of psychotherapy in which a licensed therapist works with couples creating a safe environment to facilitate conversations between them.
This type of therapy helps people involved in a romantic relationship gain insight into their relationship and emotions, resolve conflicts within the relationship, and improve relationship satisfaction utilizing a variety of therapeutic interventions.
Couples therapy involves the following elements:
- A focus on a specific problem (i.e. intimacy issues, jealousy or infidelity, long distance relationships, family concerns and so on.)
- Active and involved participation on the therapist’s part in treating the relationship itself, rather than each individual separately.
- Solution-focused, change-oriented interventions early on in treatment.
- A clear establishment of mutually decided goals of therapy.
Benefits of inviting your partner to a safe space of therapy-
1. Gain a deeper understanding of your relationship dynamic
A major benefit is that you can begin to really understand your relationship dynamics.
Who has the power? Is it balanced? Do you fall into specific (negative) communication patterns? Do you have a couple of common points of conflict that you often disagree about? How do you handle conflict?
Looking at the answers to these questions and beginning to understand patterns in your relationship — both in good times and in difficult ones — can be very important in helping heal your relationship and growing a stronger bond between the two partners.
2. Begin to see each other’s perspectives
It’s common — and normal — to see a relationship through just our own lens. It’s our feelings that matter, and it can be hard to understand or accept our partner’s point of view. This has little to do with being selfish. Rather, it’s natural to have a deeper understanding of our own perspective.
If a therapist can help you objectively look at both sides of a disagreement, you can try to avoid miscommunication and instead begin to really understand the root of a problem, both now and in the future.
3. Clarify your feelings about the relationship
You may begin therapy believing that you’ll do whatever it takes to heal the relationship and stay together. You might also come to therapy wondering if your relationship is salvageable. Either way, therapy can help you explore, understand, and clarify your feelings.
A therapist can help you and your partner decide what you want moving forward, and then give you strategic ways to reach those relationship goals. Whether this means parting ways or figuring out what it’ll take to make the relationship work, a huge benefit of couples counseling can be clarifying your feelings.
4. Deepen your intimacy and connection with your partner
One of the biggest benefits of couples counseling can be the effect it can have on intimacy and a connection with your partner.Emotional and physical intimacy is a common problem for many relationships, especially when you’ve been together for a long time and it feels like that spark has dimmed.
Focusing on each other’s wants, needs, and desires is important, but there’s more to it than just the physical side of a relationship. Working on communication and respect in therapy can allow the intimacy aspect to follow, often naturally.
‘Strong couples give their best selves to one another, not the leftovers after the world is done with them.’
When should you opt for Couples Therapy?
Most people go to couples therapy when intimacy or communication is stuck and perhaps on life support. The couple is usually at a crossroads, not knowing how to move forward or if they even want to move forward anymore.
Healthy couples can benefit from couples therapy too, as it’s an opportunity to improve connection and communication.
Signs one should start couples therapy:
- Poor communication with your partner
- Feelings of boredom or numbness about your relationship
- Wanting to learn how to have healthy conflict
- Having the same fight over and over again without resolution
- A desire to improve your relationship
- Feeling distant from your partner
- Feeling like you’re not getting something you need (for example, time or affection)
- Tackling a big life event (like moving, a new job, or a tough decision)
- Managing the transition from couple hood to new parenthood
- Managing the transition from parenthood to empty nesting
- The presence of a betrayal (an affair or unfaithfulness)
‘Good relationships are no accident. They are the work of joy.’
- Johnson S, Hunsley J, Greenberg L, Schindler D. Emotionally focused couples therapy: Status and challenges. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice. 2006;6(1):67-79. doi:10.1093/clipsy.6.1.67. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1093/clipsy.6.1.67
- About Marriage and Family Therapists. Aamft.org. https://www.aamft.org/About_AAMFT/About_Marriage_and_Family_Therapists.aspx