Couples & Relationship Counseling

Couples & Relationship Counseling

We all know romantic relationships are hard work. Like cars, they require regular maintenance to keep them running well. If there is a problem, it’s best to have it repaired right away to avoid further complications down the road.

Often we can do some of the basic maintenance and repairs ourselves. Other times, despite our best efforts, it may be best if we considered couples therapy, where a licensed professional can take a look at our relationship and give us a hand

What Is Couples Therapy?

Couples therapy is a type of psychotherapy in which a therapist with clinical experience working with couples, most often a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT), helps two people involved in a romantic relationship gain insight into their relationship, resolve conflict and improve relationship satisfaction utilizing a variety of therapeutic interventions. Although the practice of couples therapy may vary depending on the therapist’s theoretical orientation, all couples therapy tends to involve the following general elements:

  1. A focus on a specific problem (i.e. sexual difficulties, Internet addiction, jealousy)
  2. Active participation on the part of the therapist in treating the relationship itself, rather than each individual separately.
  3. Solution-focused, change-oriented interventions early on in treatment.
  4. A clear establishment of treatment objectives.

In research conducted by the American Association of Marriage and Family, more than 97% of surveyed couples said they got the help they needed from couples therapy. In addition, 93% of couples said therapy gave them more effective tools for dealing with conflict.

What To Expect in Couples Therapy

Couples therapy will usually begin with some standard interview questions regarding the history of the relationship as well as some exploration into each partner’s family-of-origin, values and cultural background. The therapist might use the initial sessions for crisis intervention if

necessary. The couples therapist will then assist the couple in identifying the issue that will be the focus of treatment, establishing treatment goals and planning a structure for treatment.

During the treatment phase, the therapist will help the couple gain insight into the relational dynamics maintaining the problem, while helping both partners understand each of their roles in the dysfunctional interactions. This will help them change the way they perceive the relationship and each other.

Although gaining insight is important, another crucial aspect of couples therapy involves actually changing behaviors and ways of interacting with each other. Couples therapists will often assign partners homework to apply the skills they have learned in therapy to their day-to-day interactions.

Most couples can come away from couples therapy having gained insight into relational patterns, increased emotional expression and developed the skills necessary to communicate and problem-solve with their partners more effectively.

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