What is Couples Counseling?
Relationships have a significant impact on our sense of well-being so it makes sense to take every opportunity to repair and restore a relationship when it has taken a painful and unwanted direction. Fortunately, we now have research that can inform both therapists and their clients how to heal our intimate relationships when they are causing us emotional pain.
When I work with couples, I blend attachment theory and the science that comes from the Emotionally Focused Therapy approach (developed by Sue Johnson) with the research and tools that come from The Gottman Method (developed by John and Julie Gottman). From the attachment perspective, we recognize that our emotional ties with our significant others are what offer us a safe haven in times of need. When these emotional bonds are broken, we often experience both physical and mental distress. Emotionally Focused Therapy helps my clients have a better understanding of the hidden emotions and underlying needs which if verbalized, can change the negative cycle. From the Gottman research, we know specific differences in the behaviors and attitudes of happily married couples vs those who divorce or stay unhappily married. These principles and tools can be learned and put into place to greatly change the dynamics of a couple’s negative patterns.
What will sessions look like?
I begin couples counseling with a joint session to hear the overview of the couples’ story about their relationship journey. In the second and third sessions, I meet with each client separately to get to know them as individuals and to understand the frustrations and the dreams for their relationship. The following sessions are then designed to help the couple identify their specific damaging relationship dance. Throughout the therapy process, I guide the couple to change the dance into one that allows for a more open expression of emotions and needs and that will allow the relationship to thrive again.
Understanding the concepts of couples counseling is not difficult, but opening up emotionally in sessions is, so I tell my clients that they will need courage to stay committed to the process in order to see progress. Depending on the issues a couple brings to therapy, couples therapy will usually last 8-15 sessions.
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