Whether platonic or romantic, relationships can be hard work. They need both parties willing and able to work at them in order to keep them going. When it comes to romantic relationships, where people are living together and/or have made long-term commitments to one another, the need to take steps to maintain the partnership is even greater. Studies have shown that as many as 25% of people are usually in strained or distressing relationships, and this number may have grown with the recently added stress of the current global pandemic. Unsurprisingly, being involved in such a relationship can take a significant toll on our emotional wellbeing and even our physical health. Fortunately, it doesn’t need to be this way.
Much like a vehicle, any minor issues that develop should be addressed promptly in order to prevent them from becoming much bigger problems further down the line. Unfortunately, this is something that is often overlooked, meaning that relationship woes have often suffered a considerable amount of damage before couples seek professional help. However, this doesn’t mean that the damage suffered is irreparable. Couples therapy can be effective in saving even the most precarious of relationships.
Couples therapy is a popular form of psychotherapy during which a trained therapist works with the couple in question in order to establish and overcome the obstacles in their relationship. They do this by helping them to achieve the main objectives of couples therapy:
To gain insight into their relationship
To break ineffective and damaging patterns
To communicate more effectively with one another
To be able to calmly resolve conflict
To learn to understand and appreciate one another
By developing these behaviors and skills it provides couples with the tools that they need to be able to successfully navigate potential problems in the future.
Couples therapy is a lot like many other forms of therapy. You and your partner will primarily attend sessions together, although there may be the opportunity for individual sessions if this becomes appropriate later on. Seeing you both together gives your therapist the chance to observe your interactions, facilitate communication, and to mediate between you both.
Your therapy will start with a discussion where your therapist will ask you about your reasons for attending therapy and what you hope to achieve from the sessions. It’s important to be aware that while your therapist will try and support you in achieving your goal, as you go through therapy many couples experience a journey that leads to their goals evolving – particularly if it turns out that what you think are the issues affecting you are actually masking a much more deep-rooted concern. For example, you may go into therapy thinking that your primary relationship issue is based around intimacy, but then as you progress through your therapy sessions, you could discover that trust and communication are at the heart of your intimacy problems. Your therapist will help you to realize the issues that you are facing and will work with you so that you can learn new skills to improve the relationship.
While much of the work will be carried out during the sessions, a major part of the success of couples therapy lies in what can be achieved at home. You will be given tasks to complete your sessions. These could be as simple as going out on a date with one another without children or cell phones or keeping a diary of arguments. While it’s easy to think of these as optional homework, studies have shown that completing these tasks can positively influence the outcome of your therapy.
Precisely how many sessions of couples therapy you will need will vary based on your individual circumstances. Some couples will need just a month or two of therapy, while others choose to make therapy a permanent part of their ongoing relationship.
Couples therapy has been proven to help the individuals involved in relationships to overcome a range of different issues, including the following:
Addiction/substance abuse and the effect on the relationship
Significant life events, such as birth or death
Trouble stemming from wider family members
Health problems that affect the relationship
Wanting the other partner to change their behavior
Not acknowledging your role in the relationship problems
Keeping secrets from your partner
Not following through on making changes to improve the relationship
If you are experiencing problems with your partner and would like to find out more about how you could enhance your relationship with couples therapy, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team in San Diego, CA.