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How Does Couples Therapy Work? Building a Stronger Relationship Together

Written By: Simona Efanov, PsyD

Imagine a safe space where you and your partner can openly discuss challenges, learn valuable communication tools, and reignite the spark in your relationship. That’s the power of couples therapy. Let’s face it, life throws curveballs, priorities shift, and sometimes communication breaks down. Couples therapy can be a powerful tool to navigate these difficulties and build a more fulfilling connection. But how does couples therapy work? Let’s explore this more. 

Understanding How Couples Therapy Works

Couples therapy, also known as marital therapy or couples counseling, is a specialized form of psychotherapy designed to help partners improve their relationship. It involves working with a trained therapist who uses evidence-based techniques to address relationship issues. Here’s an overview of how couples therapy works:

1. Initial Assessment

The therapy process begins with an initial assessment where the therapist meets with the couple to understand their relationship dynamics, communication patterns, and specific concerns. In some cases the therapist will meet with the couple first, and then meet one-on-one with each partner to hear their concerns before bringing the couple back together.   

2. Goal Setting

The therapist helps the couple set realistic and achievable goals for the therapy process. These goals might include:

  • improving communication
  • resolving conflicts
  • increasing intimacy
  • removing barriers that contribute to a sense of stagnancy
  • fostering a greater sense of respect and empathy towards each other
  • gaining a deeper understanding of each other

3. Therapeutic Interventions

Using a variety of therapeutic interventions, such as cognitive-behavioral techniques, emotion-focused therapy, and systemic approaches, the therapist guides the couple in addressing their issues. These interventions are intended to help strengthen the relationships by working on enhancing the friendship, learning to manage conflicts, and the creation of shared meaning between the couple.

4. Building Skills

Couples learn essential skills like active listening, empathy, conflict resolution, and effective communication as well as self-regulation, setting boundaries, and affirming one’s emotional and relational needs to enhance their relationship.

5. Ongoing Support

Regular therapy sessions help couples actively apply the skills they are learning and to troubleshoot barriers, as well as to provide ongoing support and a safe space to discuss their progress, challenges, and successes.

 

Benefits of Couples Therapy

Couples therapy offers numerous advantages, reaching far beyond simply resolving immediate conflicts. Here are some of the lasting benefits you can expect:

Improved Communication and Conflict Resolution Skills: The tools and techniques learned in therapy can be applied throughout your relationship, equipping you to handle future disagreements constructively.

Increased Empathy and Understanding for Each Other: Through open communication and guided exercises, couples gain a deeper understanding of each other’s perspectives, experiences, and emotional needs.

Reduced Stress and Anxiety within the Relationship: Effectively addressing conflict and feeling heard can significantly reduce stress and anxiety within your relationship, creating a more peaceful and supportive environment.

Strengthening the Emotional Bond: By working together on challenges and rediscovering emotional connection, couples can build a stronger and more fulfilling bond.

Rekindling Intimacy and Connection: Couples therapy can help address underlying issues that may be affecting intimacy and guide you in reconnecting on a deeper level.

Making Informed Decisions about the Future of the Relationship: Whether you’re looking to strengthen your commitment or considering separation, couples therapy can provide a safe space to explore your options and make informed decisions about the future of your relationship.

Debunking Common Myths about Couples Therapy

Misconceptions about couples therapy can prevent people from seeking the help they need. Unfortunately there are many misconceptions surrounding this topic so let’s clear the air on a few:

Myth: Therapy is a Last Resort.

Reality: Couples therapy can be beneficial at any stage of a relationship, not just when things are dire, even for premarital counseling or navigating life transitions.

Myth: Only “Broken” Relationships Need Therapy.

Reality: Even strong relationships can benefit from therapy to improve communication and deepen connection.

Myth: Therapy Will Make Things Worse.

Reality: While therapy can bring up difficult emotions, it ultimately aims to heal and strengthen the relationship.

Myth: Therapists Take Sides.

Reality: The therapist is trained to create a neutral and supportive environment that addresses both individual’s concerns and creates a safe space for each person to share their experiences. 

Myth: Therapy Takes Too Long.

Reality: The duration of therapy varies, and many couples see significant improvements in a relatively short period.

Myth: Therapy is Just a Bunch of Talking.

Reality: While communication is central, therapists may use various exercises and evidence-based techniques to address specific challenges. These techniques have been developed over many years of research and practice. 

When to Seek Couples Therapy

Here are some signs that seeking professional guidance for your relationship might be beneficial:

    • Constant Arguments and Difficulty Resolving Conflict
    • Feeling Emotionally Disconnected or Distant
    • Lack of Effective Communication
    • Issues with Trust or Betrayal
    • Struggles with Infertility
    • Going Through a Major Life Transition
    • Considering Separation or Divorce

If any of these resonate with you, don’t hesitate to reach out for help.

What To Do Next

The Ross Center has a team of experienced and compassionate clinicians specializing in couples counseling. We offer a supportive environment to help you navigate challenges and build a stronger, healthier relationship. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and discuss how couples therapy can benefit you and your partner. Plus sign up for our newsletter to stay informed about the latest resources and support options. Remember, you don’t have to go through this alone.

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