Does couples therapy even work? Well, if the only focus of couples therapy is on increasing communication then successful outcomes will likely be marginal at best. Typically, most people, and perhaps you, have been struggling in the relationship for over five years and have tried many techniques to increase communication. Some ideas might have worked but somehow you now feel stuck. I want to let you know that the time I have with you and your partner will be focused on much more than better communication. We will turn our attention towards making the relationship work in the short term and working towards the optimal relationship for the many years to come. So, yes I believe couples therapy can work and have long lasting positive influence on your relationship.
I will mostly use Gottman Method Couples Therapy while working with you and your loved one. This is a model that has had 35+ years of research done on its theory and technique. I prefer this model because it will accommodate nearly every style of relationship and personality. We will also use Solution Focused Therapy techniques to help establish where you and your partner want to go with your relationship. Enough of the psycho babble, how does this all work?
Every healthy and unhealthy relationship has conflict. Some conflict can be resolved and some is simply perpetual. Thus, our time together will not be about eliminating all conflict. Sorry! Instead, we will learn to change interaction patterns, manage conflict, help each other feel understood, and increase basic understanding of each other. Therapy will have some focus on communication, but the majority of the focus will be on the emotion involved in the process of communication. We will also focus on turning towards each other, creating shared meaning, and accepting one another’s influence. These are only a few areas of focus.
To begin the couples therapy process we will spend 2-3 sessions on assessment. Session length during this phase is typically 1-1.5 hours. Multiple assessments will be used to highlight strengths in your relationship and identify which areas are of most concern. This assessment process is imperative to setting therapeutic goals because it is very hard to agree on what exactly is the underlying impediment to your happiness as a couple. Part of the assessment session will include a time when the three of us decide on goals and areas of focus. We can always adjust and adapt as therapy progresses.
Remaining sessions will typically be 1 hour. The number of sessions needed will be determined by the progress of therapy and when you two feel you have adequate skills to continue making things work and are on track to reaching your goals together. Typically, couples prefer to phase out therapy, which includes going from weekly sessions to bi- monthly, monthly, then on an as needed basis. Determining the phase out approach to fit your needs will happen as we go along.