Similar to various talk therapy approaches, Couple's Therapy aims to alleviate individuals' distress and enhance their well-being within a critical aspect of their lives. However, what sets it apart from other therapeutic methods is the presence of three key participants in the therapy room, aside from the psychotherapist. These participants include each of the individuals in the couple and the relationship itself. In this intricate balancing act, the couples therapist impartially addresses the needs and concerns of all three parties. Typically, couples turn to therapy when they find themselves entangled in conflicting perspectives regarding shared experiences, and one or both partners are grappling with significant distress. It's not uncommon for one partner to express a stronger desire for therapy or a greater sense of optimism about its potential benefits than the other.
Does Couple's Therapy Really Works?
In the realm of couples therapy, the majority of sessions are conducted jointly, meaning both partners participate. Occasionally, there may be situations where it becomes necessary to meet with one member of the couple separately, but this is typically undertaken to gather essential information that pertains to the relationship, always with the consent of the other partner. On some occasions, an individual may seek couples counsel
ling as a means to catalyze change in a troubled relationship, often when their partner is reluctant to engage in therapy. This is where I, Jennifer Surch and my team will help and assist you. During the therapeutic process, the therapist is likely to pose a series of inquiries, delving into various aspects of each partner's family background and occasionally challenging individual beliefs or perspectives. It's important to note that couples therapists maintain a neutral stance when conflicts arise and do not take sides. However, they may point out specific behaviors exhibited by individuals that contribute to the joint issues within the relationship. Research in the field of relational science has firmly established that both partners typically play a role in most couple-related challenges.
The primary objective of therapy often revolves around either fostering a deeper connection between partners or facilitating a thoughtful and considerate conclusion to the partnership. Throughout the process of addressing these dilemmas, individuals in the relationship acquire the ability to cultivate compassion both for their partner and themselves. They also learn effective methods for positively managing their own negative emotions and rekindling the emotions that initially drew them together. In between therapy sessions, couples are typically encouraged to put into practice at home the insights, behaviors, and problem-solving strategies they have gained during their therapy sessions. This active involvement outside of therapy sessions helps to reinforce and apply the lessons learned, enhancing the overall effectiveness of the therapeutic process.
Best Approaches for Couple's with Issues
Couples therapy offers a range of approaches aimed at addressing relationship distress and enhancing the overall quality of partnerships. These approaches have undergone empirical testing and may be rooted in various theories about how relationships function. However, they all share a common goal—to enhance the functioning of couples and transform relationships into a source of profound meaning and fulfillment for both individuals. Most couples therapists are trained in multiple modalities, allowing them to adapt their techniques as needed. Here are a few of these approaches:
The Gottman Method: This approach, developed by psychologists John and Julie Gottman, places a strong emphasis on the significant impact of negative emotions on relationships. It highlights the importance of frequent bids for connection or response between partners, the essential need to repair any damage resulting from missed bids, and the value of sharing one's inner world with their partner. Couples learn how to express affection and respect to nurture closeness and create "love maps" that reflect their partner's psychological world.
Emotion-Focused Therapy: This therapeutic approach sees the restoration of the emotional and physical bond between distressed couples as the primary catalyst for change. Drawing from attachment theory, therapists encourage partners to explore and express the emotions underlying their anger or feelings of alienation. This disclosure of vulnerability becomes a powerful way to evoke responsiveness from a partner. With their emotional connection reestablished, couples have a renewable source of mutual comfort, enabling them to collaboratively address any challenges they encounter.
Imago Relationship Therapy: The central theme of this approach is "getting the love you want." Its objective is to help partners fulfill the ideal of love they developed early in life through their attachment to caregivers. In Imago therapy, partners take turns listening and speaking, mirroring each other's words to demonstrate understanding, validating their partner's perspective, and accessing their own emotions.
These diverse approaches offer couples a range of tools and techniques to address their specific relationship challenges, ultimately aiming to foster healthier, more fulfilling partnerships. Couples therapists often tailor their approach to the unique needs and dynamics of each couple they work with.
How Do I Know a Good Couples Therapy for Us?
In couples therapy, much like individual therapy, the relationship between the therapist and the clients plays a pivotal role. Therefore, it's crucial to find a couples therapist whose approach feels comfortable to both partners while also being willing to question the beliefs or behaviors of either partner when necessary. Before settling on a therapist to work with, it's a wise move to consider conducting consultation interviews with one or more therapists. These professionals should be open and willing to answer any questions you may have about therapy and address any concerns to your satisfaction.
Couples therapists are licensed mental health professionals who typically hold a master's or doctoral degree in fields such as medicine, psychology, counseling, social work, or marriage and family therapy. They are not only well-versed in a variety of psychotherapeutic modalities but have also received specific academic education in relationship science and family systems. Additionally, they have completed supervised clinical training that focuses on understanding interpersonal dynamics. Some therapists may choose to pursue additional training and certification through organizations like the Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (AAMFT).
For couples dealing with issues related to sexuality, it may be advantageous to seek out a couples therapist who holds additional certification from the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT). It's important to select a therapist with experience in working with couples facing challenges similar to yours, as this can expedite the therapeutic process and improve the likelihood of positive outcomes. When considering a prospective therapist, don't hesitate to inquire about their training, qualifications, and their approach to working with couples facing issues similar to yours. This information can help you make an informed decision and choose a therapist who is the right fit for your unique needs.
Regrettably, couples therapy is often not covered by insurance since it is generally not considered medically necessary by insurance providers. However, there are alternative avenues to access high-quality therapy at more affordable rates. Here are a couple of options to consider:
Couples Therapy Training Institutes: Many therapy training institutes, whether they are free-standing or affiliated with a university, offer couples therapy at reduced rates. In these settings, therapy sessions are conducted by trainees who are in the process of becoming licensed therapists. However, they receive real-time supervision from experienced experts who provide guidance and coaching during the sessions. This means that you benefit from the trainees' work while also having the assurance of experienced supervision.
Community Agencies: Some community agencies provide couples therapy services at lower or sliding scale fees based on your income. These agencies often aim to make therapy more accessible to individuals and couples who may face financial constraints.
By exploring these options, you can potentially find affordable couples therapy that suits your needs and budget. It's essential to inquire about fees and the qualifications of the therapists or trainees providing the services when considering these options. Additionally, discussing payment plans or sliding scale fees with therapists or agencies can help make therapy more financially feasible for you and your partner.