A Guide To Couples Therapy
Choosing a romantic life partner comes with ups and downs. Some days are smooth sailing and steady, while others can be frustrating for you and your partner. There may be issues that cause a strain in your relationship, which could even lead to separation.
Fortunately, methods like couples therapy exist to provide people in a romantic relationship with professional counseling and guide them in sorting out their troubles. Couples therapy addresses the issue and identifies potential root causes. The counselor or the therapist then works closely with the couple to allow them to recover gradually from this low point and renew their relationship.
History of Couples Therapy
The idea of couples counseling has been around for decades. During the Great Depression in the 1930s, many families and relationships suffered a strain due to widespread unemployment and poverty. The number of marriages dropped significantly, as well as the birth rate. During this period, American eugenicists and marriage counselors first started marriage therapy. Until the end of the century, religious groups, familial figures, and village elders focused on marital problems.
The field of psychology and its methods, such as therapy and counseling, became prominent in the 19th and early 20th centuries. However, it wasn’t until the 1950s that psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, and social workers shifted from individual to family or couple therapy. As counseling ideas progressed and became common in today’s modern world, the demand for professional couples therapy has also risen. Couples counseling has since become more accessible and available anywhere.
Why Should You Seek Couples Therapy?
In any relationship, misunderstandings are inevitable as individuals attempt to build a life together. If these issues are not addressed, they may become more severe problems in the future, possibly resulting in a separation. Couples therapy can help people understand themselves and each other and build stronger bonds in their relationships.
Licensed professionals, such as Insight Northwest Counseling, can assist them in assessing the situation, determining the root cause of misunderstandings, addressing the issue, and improving the connection.
However, a couple does not have to be in trouble to seek therapy. Some people use professional relationship coaches to strengthen their bond with their partners and improve their relationship. Some websites can give you information on where to find reliable therapists specializing in couples therapy.
Issues That Counselors May Address In Therapy
Couples go to therapy for several reasons. These may include the following:
- Lack of trust or jealousy
- Addiction, substance abuse, and its possible impact on the relationship
- Past occurrences of infidelity and their consequences
- Power play and division of labor in the relationship
- Lack of physical and emotional intimacy
- Financial problems
- Parenting their children
- Involvement of in-laws in the couple’s life
- Differences in personal values
- Poor communication and misunderstandings
- Personal issues of the individual, such as mental health problems, that affect the relationship
- Life-changing events that one or both may find difficulty coping with
Benefits Of Couples Therapy
Here are some of the benefits you may get when you seek the advice of professional counselors to help resolve your relationship issues:
- Seeing Things Through The Eyes Of An Objective Professional
Problems may arise when you and your partner fail to see the issue objectively, as either side focuses on that which affects or disadvantages them. In contrast, having a counselor or therapist could provide an objective viewpoint.
It can shift perspectives on the issue, allowing the couple to understand the issue as a whole and seek solutions.
- Improving Relationships Using Scientific Methods
Professionals, such as counselors and therapists, use techniques supported by years of research, case studies, and comparisons. Furthermore, these methods have been approved and widely accepted as beneficial. As a result, couples can benefit from the guidance and expertise of counselors and therapists in undergoing specific processes that help them manage their relationship problems systemically and in a well-structured manner.
- Enhancing Self-Awareness And Personal Growth
A relationship is formed when two people agree to create a romantic bond. However, personal issues, which one or both partners in a relationship may be dealing with, may cause problems. On the other hand, couples therapy allows the two parties to know, manage, and improve themselves to build a good connection, enabling them to communicate their personal feelings to the other person constructively.
Techniques Used In Couples Therapy
Couples therapy employs various professional techniques. These may include:
- Emotionally Focused Therapy
Emotionally focused therapy (EFT) was developed in the 1980s by Dr. Sue Johnson and Dr. Les Greenberg. They focused their research and method on love between individuals as an attachment or bond. It’s used in adult relationships to improve bonding and attachment. Couples experiencing conflict, distress, or poor communication can benefit from emotionally focused therapy.
Aside from that, EFT has proven to be a practical approach for couples dealing with recent or past infidelity or other traumatic incidents. Neuroscience research also establishes the connection between attachment and EFT. Secure attachments are believed to provide individuals and, in this situation, couples with a feeling of safety.
This method can untangle relationship-threatening and counterproductive reactions through emotionally oriented therapy. Based on considerable research and case studies, emotionally focused therapy remains a practical and popular approach in couples therapy.
- Gottman Method
Communication is vital in any relationship; it may either strengthen or destroy a bond. Many couples contend with problems in this area. This led Dr. John Gottman and Dr. Julie Schwartz Gottman to develop a research-based approach to help couples improve how they respond to each other.
Increased closeness, respect, and affection are among the objectives of the Gottman Method. Other goals include removing obstacles that breed feelings of stagnation and fostering a greater sense of empathy and understanding within the framework of the relationship.
Gottman also developed the Sound Relationship House Theory, which is composed of nine components:
- Create love maps and knowing one’s world
- Show fondness and admiration
- Turn towards each other
- Keep a positive perspective
- Resolve conflict
- Make life dreams come true
- Create shared meaning
- Build trust
- Remain committed to each other
These components represent the foundation of a strong bond and are essential to making a relationship or marriage work.
- Solution-Focused Therapy
Another approach used in couples therapy is solution-focused brief therapy (SFBT), which was developed by Steve de Shazer and Insoo Kim Berg. It’s an effective technique for planning, instigating, achieving, and maintaining specific behavioral changes. This short-term, evidence-based therapeutic approach incorporates concepts from positive psychology and relevant guiding principles. Instead of having the clients concentrate on the issues in their relationship, they develop solutions for them.
SFBT is also applied in various fields, including commerce, social welfare, education, criminal justice services, foster care, and the treatment of perpetrators of domestic violence. The emphasis on precise, clear, and realistic target negotiations is its defining idea.
- Family Systems Therapy
Family systems therapy is based on a theory developed by psychoanalyst Murray Bowen. This approach shifts the focus to the family as a whole, where the behavior of its members must be taken in the context of the family. This type of therapy involves eight interrelated principles, namely:
- Triangles or a relationship ‘building block’
- Nuclear family emotional process
- Family projection process
- Multigenerational transmission process
- Emotional distancing
- Birth order
- Societal emotional process
Most relationship problems arise from emotional conflicts between people in a group. Family systems therapy addresses emotional disputes between couples by defining their emotional part and responsibility in forming a healthy bond.
- Narrative Therapy
In the 1980s, Michael White, an Australian social worker, and David Epston, a New Zealand family therapist, developed narrative therapy. This new technique helps people understand their own lives through stories. Counselors and therapists first used it in couples counseling in the United States in the 1990s. This method allows the couple to tell their story, including their emotions and feelings, resulting in a report they will view from an observer’s perspective to address the issues raised.
This approach of seeing one’s life from an outside perspective is called externalization. It allows couples to view problems and issues differently, giving them better insight into how to solve them. According to research, married couples who underwent narrative therapy had higher levels of marital satisfaction.
Couples Therapy Statistics
In a 2017 study of 1,000 couples, 49% said they had gone to counseling with their spouse. On the other hand, 55% of these couples underwent counseling for six months or less. According to the same study, 52% of those who had not tried marital counseling were willing to try it.
Unfortunately, it can take partners up to six years after problems arise to seek counseling, according to relationship and marriage expert Dr. John Gottman. Nonetheless, a significant percentage of couples reported reduced emotional distress after undergoing therapy.
Couples therapy offers numerous benefits and is an excellent way to improve your bond with your life partner, whether you’re dealing with issues affecting yourself, your partner, or your relationship. You can reach out to licensed and experienced professionals who employ research-backed techniques to help you manage relationship problems. They can help you find the best approach for you and your partner.