Couples counselling is a form of psychotherapy to help couples deal with issues in their relationship. It helps couples learn to communicate more effectively, develop empathy and better understand each other.
During therapy, your therapist will ask you and your partner questions about your childhoods, how you met, your family and other aspects of your life together.
Identifying Your Problems
People often go to couples therapy when they are having recurring arguments, feeling distant from one another or when there is a crisis such as infidelity, financial strain, addiction problems and trauma. But both Carroll and Hoge note that even healthy couples can benefit from treatment. This is because relationship counseling helps increase connection and communication, making a strong marriage even stronger.
In the first couple of sessions, a therapist will listen to each person’s story about their childhoods and relationships, and ask questions that help them understand the problems the pair is having. They may also ask for both partners to complete assessments and questionnaires. This will give the therapist a clearer picture of how each partner sees the problem and where the root causes lie.
During the course of treatment, the therapist will guide both partners to gain insight into their own roles in dysfunctional interactions and help them change behavior. This will lead to a greater level of understanding, respect, affection and intimacy between the couple.
Many people worry that couples therapy won’t work. But evidence based research shows that relationship counselling positively impacts 70% of couples who participate. However, it is important to find a therapist who is experienced in this type of therapy and will not take sides. They should also be able to offer the couple an affordable rate and work with them on developing therapy goals.
During the first couple of sessions, couples will work with their therapist to come up with specific goals for their relationship. This could involve setting a budget together, agreeing on how to raise children or getting help navigating sexual intimacy issues. During this process, the therapist will be on hand to help them develop the skills they need to accomplish these goals.
A therapist may also recommend that each individual seek out individual counselling to help them cope with emotional issues that could be impacting the relationship. This is particularly common if one or both of the partners are suffering from anger management problems, for example. In this case, the therapist will usually suggest that each partner completes individual therapy before couples counseling begins.
The overall goal of couples counselling is to help improve feelings of security within the relationship, develop effective communication skills and become more aware of how your actions can negatively affect your partner. It is important that both partners are fully committed to the process, otherwise it is unlikely to be successful.
In addition to improving their communication skills, couples might also find that their relationships in other areas of their lives are benefiting from the sessions. For instance, learning to express gratitude and appreciation for one another might make their relationships at work and with their friends more satisfying.
Having effective communication skills can help to reduce misunderstandings and misinterpretations. This allows couples to discuss issues, problems, and expectations in a productive manner that fosters trust and support within the relationship. It also allows for the expression of love, appreciation, and admiration, which can strengthen the emotional bond and increase physical intimacy.
Couples therapy exercises often include identifying your own and your partner’s triggers. This helps you to keep from blaming each other for what goes wrong in your relationship and raises empathy. It may also involve learning to express your feelings without blaming, such as using “I” statements instead of “you.” Learning how to take a time-out during arguments can prevent them from getting out of hand and allow both parties to calm down and collect their thoughts.
Other exercises can teach you how to negotiate with your partner to find win-win solutions. These can be simple changes, such as how chores are shared between the two of you or more complex, like resolving a disagreement about finances. It can also be useful to learn how to schedule relationship talks so that they occur at a convenient time and place, as well as to practice setting boundaries around when it is appropriate to engage in difficult conversations outside of counselling. This can help to reduce the frequency of argumentative discussions that go nowhere and can lead to disconnection in the relationship.
Couples therapy can help couples regardless of the length of their relationship. Whether you’re a newlywed, a few years into your marriage, or approaching the big “I do”s, there isn’t a time that is too early to seek counseling help. Couples counselors focus on identifying maladaptive patterns that are contributing to an unhealthy relationship and then teach them to replace those habits with healthier ones. Couples often find that they can communicate more effectively and learn to resolve disagreements without attacking each other. During the first sessions, the therapist will likely ask intake questions and explore your attachment styles to gain a better understanding of your relationship dynamics.
The therapist will also address any external stresses that are impacting your relationship, such as financial challenges or infidelity. They will then work with you and your partner to develop healthy communication strategies and build a stronger bond.
During sessions, your therapist may ask you to take turns sharing feelings and addressing each other’s concerns. They might also use questionnaires to assess your relationship, such as this one that distinguishes between lust and love, or have you discuss your values and beliefs to see how they match up with those of your partner. They will help you understand how your past experiences, current stresses, and recurring arguments shape the dynamic of your relationship.