Unfortunately, even some of the strongest relationships and marriages have ended due to quarantines, finances and other stresses brought on by living in today’s world. Due to real trouble in paradise, many couples are exploring counseling options together.
Couples therapy has been an effective method for couples to strengthen their relationships. Counseling sessions can potentially help them take a deeper look at the issues at hand and find better methods of working through them together. Here’s what couples therapy is, how it works and where couples can find great therapists to work with.
What Is Couples Therapy?
Many issues can arise in any given relationship or marriage, from lack of intimacy and emotional distance to economic hardship and harmful arguments. However, having therapy sessions together can be effective towards healing relationships.
In couples therapy, therapists ask uncomfortable but necessary questions to pinpoint issues and underlying themes in relationships that couples may have not even considered. For example, one person in a relationship may be dealing with trust or resentment issues that leak out into other areas of the relationship. During sessions, which typically last about an hour, therapists can assist in developing goals and ways to break through problems. “Couples therapy provides tools for communicating and asking for what you need,” shared Tracy Ross, a relationship and family therapist in New York City. “A lot of couples tell me that it is the only hour they have during the week where they’re focused on each other, with no distractions.”
What Lessons or Skills Can a Couple Learn in Therapy?
During any given therapy session, therapists try to help couples look at how their behaviors can help or hurt their relationships. Some of the skills that therapy can help with are how couples communicate and handle stress. They also can learn about and improve levels of patience, forgiveness, trust and honesty. Hard circumstances can damage these skills over time, so it’s important that couples continue to work on them.
Often, in therapy, counselors assign their clients homework to complete before the next session. Though they may seem silly and unnecessary at times, these assignments are helpful in the counseling sessions and can actually have a positive impact. For example, counselors may ask a couple to track their emotions or arguments over a given period or read relationship articles or books together to spark discussions. Depending on a couple’s issues, planned date nights or intimate sessions may be other assignments.
There Are Several Different Types of Couples Therapy
While people may come into couples therapy with preconceived notions of what to expect, there are several different types of therapy that could work, depending on what the couple is facing. For example, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) was originally created to help individuals living with anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions. However, it’s used for couples to explore how their thoughts influence their behaviors.
For those struggling with emotional responses in relationships, emotionally-focused therapy (EFT) focuses on developing emotional intelligence. In this type of therapy, couples work on figuring out their emotional needs and sharing them with each other. They discover areas where they feel disconnected and learn to create safer, more emotional spaces with each other. The Imago method of couples therapy looks at how childhood trauma may affect how individuals show up in adult relationships. Another popular couples therapy is the Gottman Method, which was created by husband and wife psychologists Drs. John and Julie Gottman. Through decades of scientific research, the couple developed the Sound Relationship House Therapy, which explores sharing relationship histories, identifying triggers and areas of discontentment, and learning how to properly manage conflict. As each “level” of the house is explored, the couple can improve their connection over time.