Couples Counseling

Couples Counseling | Approach



What Is Couples Counseling?

From our perspective, couples counseling is essentially "psychotherapy for couples." It can be used by a couple to help them grow more connected or to help navigate problems in their partnership.

When a couple first initiates counseling there is often presenting issues.  These issues could be recurring conflicts, feelings of disconnection, struggles in sexual intimacy, parenting issues or difficulties due to external stressors. Other times the relationship might be an impasse from an affair or a separation. But regardless of the issues, the role of a couples therapist is to facilitate safe and meaningful conversations between a couple to navigate issues and encourage understanding, respect, affection, and intimacy between partners.

Types of Couples Therapy.

We are influenced by a variety of approaches to couples therapy, here are some of those approaches:

  • Emotionally focused therapy (EFT): Sue Johnson’s EFT focuses on improving the attachment and bonding between partners. In this approach the therapist identifies and utilizes various attachment patterns to help a couple grow closer.
  • Gottman method: The modality is especially good with conflict and equipping partners with problem-solving skills to reduce the negative impacts of conflict.
  • Schnarch’s Crucible method: Dr. David Schnarch excels in the topic of differentiation as well a sexual intimacy. This approach is helpful when working with co-dependent couples.
  • Tatkin’s PACT method: Stan Tatkin, created a Psychobiological Approach to couple therapy (PACT) which integrates developmental neuroscience, arousal regulation, and attachment theory.
  • Psychodynamic couple’s therapy: Psychodynamic therapy explores the underlying, often unconscious patterns, within a couple with the aim to help partners better understand each other. Esther Perel is one who often utilizes aspects of Pyschodynamic theory along with Family Systems in her work with couples.

Couples Counseling Techniques.

Couples therapists employ an integrated approach to treatment, borrowing techniques from different forms of therapy, some of these strategies include:

  • Creating a safe space “The therapist creates a sense of safety by getting to know you and your partner. They work actively and collaboratively with you to help you understand yourself and your partner better.
  • Furthering the relationship. Couples therapy should further the relationship of partners even when a separation or divorce is imminent. The goal is to better relate to each other regardless of the continuation or discontinuance of a partnership. This is especially important when children are involved.
  • Encouraging self-reflection rather than blame.  One of the key goals for growth in a couple is encourage both partners to reflect on the role they play in a relational more than blaming the other. If both partners contribute in their own self reflection the partnership can grow and heal.
  • Identifying feelings. A therapist helps partners identify feelings and put them into words to one another.
  • Exploring the past. Couples therapy can involve exploring each partner’s past to understand fears, motivations, and behaviors in a relationship. This helps address unresolved conflicts in your present.
  • Focusing on solutions. A therapist will work to resolve issues, identify and correct negative behavior patterns, and re-focus on positive aspects of a relationship.
  • Conflict resolution. Couples therapy can help teach couples how to allow conflict without it becoming toxic. Some amount of conflict is a normal part of a relationship, normalizing it can help reach a better outcome.
  • Discernment. Sometimes couples require a third party to help discern whether their partnership should continue. When requested, a therapist can hold a safe space for couples to explore a temporary separation while continuing therapy to talk through potential re-connection or formal separation.

Benefits of Couples Therapy. 

There are many benefits of couples therapy that both reduce relationship distress and increase relationship satisfaction. Some of the benefits of couples therapy include: better understanding each other, identify relationship issues, improved communication skills, resolving conflicts, strengthen friendship and attachment, identify dysfunctional behavior, learning new relational skills and improved relationship satisfaction.

A Relational investment.

Couples therapy involves participation from both partners. We require both partners to be present in sessions and we do not counsel couples individually. However, if your partner is not open to it, we can work with you in individual therapy to help you better understand your relationship and potentially how you can improve it.

In couples therapy we choose not to diagnose either partner and thus do not bill insurance. Diagnosing either partner changes the therapy into a hybrid of individual/couples. We feel this detracts from actual couples work. Many therapists do this to allow insurance reimbursement. However, we feel this does not benefit the couple. For this reason, we do not bill insurance for couples therapy (nor will it be reimbursable). We also are careful not to combined couples therapy and individual therapy with the same therapist. If we find that, one or both of you, could benefit from individual therapy, we will refer you to an individual therapist to work simultaneously with you while in couples therapy.

How to Get Started with a Couple’s Therapist Near Me.

If you feel your relationship would benefit from couples therapy, discuss it with your partner and see if they’re open to it. If they’re resistant to it, explain why it’s important to you and how you think it might help your relationship.

If you are both willing to make that investment then email us with your partner cc’d to schedule an initial consultation.  Your therapist will find a day and time for you to meet regularly preferably in person but online couples counseling can be accommodated as well.