Couples counseling is designed to understand the behavior patters between people in a relationship to resolve problems more effectively. Couples therapy is a brief, solution-focused technique, which defines specific and attainable treatment goals, and is designed with the outcome in mind. Couples counseling will help people develop strategies for improving their relationships.
The processes of couples counseling teaches you how to take helpful risks to develop a loving relationship. Opportunities to continue personal growth occur throughout life. Individual growth leads to stable committed relationships. Couples therapy encourages emotional growth, which allows people to experience more connected feelings with one another. People develop trust when they feel safe in disclosing your deepest, most private self to their partners. The most effective way to obtain a good outcome in your relationships is to work with an experienced professional, such as a licensed marriage and family counselor.
What types of problems are treated in couples counseling?
The psychotherapy of couples counseling treats specific problems in a relationship such as poor communication, problems getting along, boundary issues with other family members such as parents or grandparents, disagreements about parenting of children, or difficulties with financial stress. Couples therapy shows people a way to live in a more loving and respectful way.
Work or career issues, financial issues, and issues with children and the extended family are the stresses that modern society place on a relationship. In couples counseling, people learn how to deal with the pressures of daily living without destroying their relationship. During the psychotherapeutic process of marriage therapy, couples learn that we are all human and have human flaws. Couples in therapy get the insight that we all have the ability to hurt each other and develop skills to prevent that hurt as much as possible. Partners in the counseling process find they have a safe place to acknowledge hurtful behaviors. People in relationships learn effective communication skills to apologize and express remorse.
How long do people stay in couples therapy?
Couples counseling is designed to address specific issues. Within 10 to 12 sessions, on average, problems will be identified and better behavioral strategies will begin to take effect. The number of sessions is tailored depending on the couple involved and their specific issues.
Often, couples desire to continue sessions with the therapist to reinforce new skills and effective strategies. They realize that cognitive tools can be learned which help produce a more successful relationship. As a couple puts what is learned in the initial sessions into practice, they become motivated to “learn more” as they see they have a more satisfying life with their partner. Often, couples begin marriage therapy in a “crisis” situation. When highly charged emotions begin to retreat, the psychotherapist and the couple can start the real work of learning and refining many skills and techniques to improve the marriage or relationship.
Why use a marriage and family therapist (MFT) for couples counseling and psychotherapy?
Marriage and Family Therapists are specially trained, licensed professionals focusing on relationships, family dynamics and psychotherapy. These professionals diagnose and treat a wide range of emotional and psychological disorders that arise between people in a relationship.
A marriage therapist is specifically trained to listen and analyze issues presented by partners in a relationship in an unbiased fashion. Friends and families of the couple are often very loving and very much want to help but their strong emotional investment with one or both partners makes them unable to understand the psychology of the relationship objectively. Even after the first session with an effective marriage therapist, it is quite common that couples will report a feeling of “hope” that they are doing something positive to help work things out in their relationship.
Will I become a better listener through couples counseling?
During couples counseling, people learn specific methods on how to listen to their partner’s needs. Active listening techniques help people develop empathy with their partner which lets them better understand their partner’s needs and improve their relationship. Relationships and marriages become stronger and more caring and loving when people learn to listen to each other.
Couples psychotherapy involves training in resolving conflicts, eliminating miscommunication, and healing painfully hurt emotions. Any relationship inevitable develops problems. Through therapy, you can to listen fully to your partner’s needs. An experienced marriage, family and couples therapist can teach the people in a relationship specific methods to improve their listening skills.
The therapist can help you stay on track when working on resolving an issue. You learn to resist “making a case” for yourself by bringing in irrelevancies that may only cause pain to the other. Couples therapy can effectively develop communication regarding a difference of opinion, which leads to a comfortable solution for both people.
How will couples counseling help me resolve the conflicts in my marriage?
First, the therapist will help create a safe, warm and trusting relationship for both partners. Next, you work with the therapist understand the nature of the conflict. Often, conflicts result when partners in a relationship differ in a goal or expectation. In couples counseling, the therapist will help you understand each other’s expectations, and help you and your partner learn new ways to communicate to resolve the conflict.
An experienced couples therapist can teach partners in a relationship skills they can use to develop strategies to improve conflict resolution that can adapt over time. People gain an increased ability to listen with understanding to the other person’s views, even though, perhaps, not agreeing on the specific issue. The marriage therapist can demonstrate effective and safe ways to express negative emotions such as hurt and anger in a non-critical and non-confrontational style. Successful conflict resolution results in partners feeling closer and more trusting with each other, strengthening the marriage.
Is couples counseling really effective?
Many studies demonstrate the effectiveness of couples counseling. The vast majority of people in couples therapy report an improvement in how they perceive themselves and their relationship.
Couples counseling is extremely effective in not only helping couples stay together. In fact, as each individual in the relationship continues to grow and maturing, they develop to more functional and positive communication and efficient conflict resolution outcomes in their lives outside of their relationship. Couples counseling, is not a passive thing “done” to a couple, but rather it is “work” done together with the psychotherapist. The counselor and the couple are in positive communion to effect positive results.
Couples therapy is an effective method to understand the behavior of the partners in a relationship and allows effective resolution of relationship problems. A couples counselor treats a variety of specific relationship problems and helps people learn to live more lovingly together. Couples therapy varies in duration, which is designed to provide enough space to address specific relationship issues. Professional marriage and family therapists are highly trained experts that can facilitate therapy for a couple in an unbiased and objective manner. People undergoing couples counseling learn specific skills to become better listeners and resolve conflicts. Overall, people find that couples therapy is effective and report an overall improvement in their well-being and in their relationships.
About this Author
Patricia H. Hecht, MFT, is a licensed marriage and family therapist practicing in the San Francisco Bay Area. With over twenty years of experience treating individuals, families, and couples, she provides unbiased help and support to overcome many common life problems. To learn more about her and schedule an appointment, visit her website at http://www.hechtfamilytherapy.com/.
Copyright Patricia H. Hecht, MFT – All rights reserved.