If you and your loved one are experiencing relationship troubles, you may have considered couples therapy. However, with relatively low success rates and the stress of working out problems, many people feel overwhelmed and discouraged with the idea.
The problem usually lies in the fact that couples often only seek help when the troubles are already quite deep. “When partners have tried and tried to improve their relationship and nothing has worked, a heap of skepticism about whether couples therapy could possibly work makes sense,” wrote practicing psychologist and Harvard University lecturer Holly Parker, Ph.D. Despite this, however, she says that, “..it may ultimately surprise partners with how much it can make a difference.”
Also, the skills needed to be a couples’ therapist may be entirely different from those of individual therapy. Otherwise, treatment can produce positive and long-term effects. The key is to use different techniques which work for both parties, even with a bit of trial and error involved.
That being said, couples therapy has the following fundamental principles:
Changes The Views Of The Relationship
During the process, the goal is for each party to look at the relationship objectively, to avoid placing the blame on the other. The therapist or psychiatrist also employs techniques to help them see the union in a particular context. For example, for couples undergoing financial troubles, there are specific ways for each one to adapt until the money issues are resolved.
In this case, the therapist would suggest methods for effectively managing finances as a couple. By pointing out the problems, the couple can put aside their pride and learn to work as a team to solve the issues head-on.
Modifies Dysfunctional Behavior
A therapist also needs to end behaviors which cause physical or emotional distress. If one partner is physically abusive, he must first be dealt with individually. One way to do this is to put him in a domestic violence shelter for a while. A similar method can be done for a partner suffering from substance abuse or alcoholism. Doing so not only helps the relationship, it keeps both partners healthy, safe, and in a much better position to solve the relationship issues. With issues such as these, “[a] good therapist will not judge you, but needs to know everything in order to help you,” clinical psychologist Barbara Markway, Ph.D., says.
Decreases Emotional Avoidance
Therapy would also enforce communication between partners who may have deeply buried and unexpressed feelings.
Blake Griffin Edwards, LMFT, wrote, “Couples who do not experience mutuality usually channel feelings of sadness, fear, or shame through self-protective or coercive behaviors that fail to achieve what is needed to move beyond them.” He added, “When such interactions evolve into patterns, couples often experience a loss of trust or a heightening of fear in their relationship, which buries the deeper emotions even further.”
Many couples lose intimacy over time because their everyday issues may have discouraged them from expressing themselves effectively and healthily. The idea is to prevent the couple from growing apart because of the emotional distance. This may be difficult because it requires the couple to break old habits, but is often a good stepping stone to resolving other relationship issues.
That being said, therapy should be able to address all communication problems between partners. The basis of this is that communication is a must to achieve intimacy. Sometimes, physical and emotional abuse might be seen by one partner as the only way to express himself. By introducing more effective and less destructive methods, the couple can start being on the same page again. A therapist can achieve this through simple exercises and provide each one with an outlet to talk without interruption.
Active couples’ therapy would be able to point out the positive qualities of each partner and how they contribute to the quality of the relationship. The idea is to let the couple reaffirm their reasons to keep the relationship going and to equip them for any future problems that they may encounter after the therapy has concluded.
For a relationship to work out, it takes both sides’ effort, time and perseverance. But despite all these, and the change will still not take place, then the best option is to get professional help. Here is a guide on how to choose your therapist or psychiatrist: https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/psychologists/reasons-to-choose-an-online-psychiatrist/.