Individual therapy is a powerful treatment tool that helps to address a range of mental health issues and experiences. Among the most common form of therapy is psychotherapy, also known as “talk” therapy. There is no question that therapy can help an individual to overcome personal adversity or past trauma and develop healthy coping mechanisms for stress and anxiety.
When it comes to our personal relationships, we may also experience adversity and trauma that is difficult to work through alone. While sometimes we can do basic maintenance and repairs ourselves, there may come a time when we find ourselves seeking outside guidance and support to help our relationship with someone else. This is the nature of couples therapy.
What Is Couples Therapy?
Couples therapy may also be referred to as family therapy or marriage counseling. Couples therapy is a form of psychotherapy that involves a therapist working with two people involved in a romantic relationship. The therapist assists in providing new insight into the relationship, resolving unwanted conflict, and improving overall relationship satisfaction. With the use of traditional therapeutic interventions, couples therapy is very similar to individual therapy in that it focuses on addressing underlying causes for conflict within each person or together.
What to Expect During Couples Therapy
During you and your spouse’s first few sessions of couples therapy, a therapist will try to get a good grasp on the history of your relationship as well as each person’s personal history and values. If your relationship is in crisis, there may be crisis intervention protocols used by a therapist during these sessions as well. After a therapist has a good understanding of your relationship, they will begin to identify deep-rooted issues that will become the focus of treatment. A collaborative effort will be made between the couple and therapist to also create long-term goals and develop a treatment plan, similar to other treatment plans created to overcome mental health or substance use issues.
During sessions, a therapist will provide new perspectives and insight into the couple’s dynamics that may be creating problems or making them more severe. It is the role of a therapist to remain objective during sessions and to guide both partners in understanding their unique roles in their relationship. A therapist must identify specific causes of dysfunctional interactions between partners.
New Patterns of Behavior
Identifying problems and providing insight is only one important part of couples therapy. Another crucial factor that leads to success with couples therapy involves altering the unwanted and unhealthy behaviors of each partner. It is common for therapists to provide homework for each partner between sessions so that each person is able to practice and apply the important skills that they are learning in therapy. The main goal of this treatment is to have couples develop healthier patterns of behavior, communication, and problem-solving with their partner long-term.
Each partner will be able to understand the thoughts and feelings of their spouse on a deeper level through couples therapy. You will be equipped with resources and tools to express wants and needs in a healthy manner while learning how to validate and empathize with your partner. More important than the therapy itself is each partner’s willingness to attend sessions and put in the effort to be a better person for themself and their partner.
Could You and Your Spouse Benefit From Couples Therapy?
Couples therapy can benefit any kind of relationship looking for outside insight and guidance. An important factor of couples therapy is that each partner acknowledges that their specific behavior is not contributing to relational success. This avoids having one partner suggest individual therapy to their spouse, assuming that only one partner is at fault for their relational dysfunction. Deciding to try couples therapy may not be an easy decision for you and your spouse, as it requires each partner to admit that there are problems in your relationship. It may also be difficult to find a time that works for both partners or how it will be handled financially. Regardless of the obstacles initially involved in attempting couples therapy, there are many reasons why you might consider it.
Couples therapy can resolve past issues, current problems, and prevent problems from worsening in the future. Couples therapy can also be used as a “check-in” resource to address how each partner is feeling during times of high stress or life transitions. Common areas of concern that may lead a couple to therapy may include:
- Finance management
- Sex and/or infertility
- Chronic health issues
- Substance use
- Lack of emotional intimacy or connection
- Frequent conflict
- Trust issues
- Ending relationships
- Other communication issues
- Setting boundaries
If you and your partner are experiencing any of the common relational issues mentioned above, you may benefit greatly from couples therapy sessions. It is common for partners to wait for their relational issues to become severe before seeking the help that they need. Despite how long an issue has been ongoing, it is never too late to seek help for your relationship.
Couples therapy is a form of psychotherapy where a therapist assists two partners involved in a romantic relationship. A couple may choose to engage in couples therapy for a variety of reasons including fertility issues, emotional intimacy, trust or communication, or frequent conflict. During sessions, a therapist will work with a couple to identify problem behaviors, develop healthier behaviors, and create a treatment plan with specified goals. A therapist will provide perspective and insight to your specific relational experiences in hopes of establishing greater communication and connection between partners. The connections that we experience with others are crucial to our personal development and mental wellbeing. At West Coast Recovery Centers, we acknowledge how essential human connection is to our mental health journeys. We work directly with individuals looking to heal from mental, relational, or substance use trauma. For more information about the treatment options we offer, call us today at (760) 492-6509.