What is Couples Therapy?
In couples therapy, two partners work with a licensed therapist in a safe and non-judgmental environment to understand and improve any issues impacting the health of the relationship, such as communication, difficult life transitions, infidelity, or disconnection, to name a few.
Although the therapist will also want to know about both partners individually, he or she will assess and treat the couple as a unit with interventions designed to restore health to your interpersonal dynamics, patterns and the way you relate to each other. Couples therapy is typically a very healthy step for a relationship because it means that both people are committing to being intentional about improving the relationship.
What To Expect In Couples Therapy?
Couples therapy will begin with sharing the story of your relationship, going back to when you met, how you fell in love, significant events (both happy and challenging), and what prompted the decision to seek counseling. The therapist will want to know the main problems you are experiencing, and what causes most of your stress within the relationship. You can also expect questions on an individual level about childhood experiences, family history, potential cultural factors, and personal values. Try not to get discouraged by the number of questions in the first session, it’s important for the therapist to have a good foundational understanding of you as individuals and as a couple.
After the initial session, couples therapy may feel more substantial as you explore relationship problems and challenges more deeply, develop new ways of approaching conflict, learn things you didn’t know about each other, or strive to find reconnection. These things take time, and it isn’t unusual for a therapist to recommend weekly sessions for a period of time to develop the momentum needed for changing long-held patterns.
How Does Couples Therapy Work? (Specific techniques, process, etc?)
Couples therapy is not always easy because it involves talking about things that upset you and/or your spouse. Some sessions will feel victorious, while others may feel discouraging. Your couples therapist is trained to help you communicate and understand each other in healthier and more honest ways, which means you might be sharing or hearing things for the first time. The good news is that your therapist will be a trained and neutral third party to help you both through it.
There are several models of couples therapy. Some focus on simply changing behavior or finding short-term solutions, while others seek to understand the deeper underlying emotional factors or impacts of intergenerational trauma, for example. When you choose your couples therapist, it is a good idea to ask about their approach to make sure it aligns with your hopes and expectations.
Who Is Couples Therapy For?
Relationships are highly complex and there are hundreds of reasons couples come to therapy. In general, couples therapy is for people looking to improve their relationship dynamics, heal and repair after a painful rupture, work through a big life event, or understand each other better. Some common reasons for seeking couples therapy are:
- Frustrating communication patterns
- Feeling bored or disconnected
- Having the same fight over and over without resolution
- Feeling like one person has more power than the other
- Managing big transitions such as parenthood
- Grief over a significant personal loss
- Changes in sex life
- Betrayal or infidelity
- Considering a breakup or divorce
What is the difference between telehealth for couples therapy and in-person couples therapy? Benefits, etc.
Telehealth therapy is a great solution for couples who are in different physical locations or who may not feel comfortable sitting next to each other in an office because of intense feelings or tension in the relationship. It offers a little space and breathing room, which can be helpful, especially with conflict. It’s also very convenient for those on tight schedules because you don’t have to drive, park and take as much time away from work or other responsibilities.
Ultimately, telehealth and in-person couples therapy will provide the same benefits - a licensed therapist who will use evidence-based treatments to help you improve your relationship.