How would you react if your significant other asked you to go to couple’s therapy? If you are like many, the reaction would be a negative one. However, couple’s therapy has a great deal to offer, even to the most functional and loving couple. Many people do not understand exactly what happens behind on the psychologists’ couch. Knowing the real story may make you feel better about getting the help that you need.
What comes to your mind when you think of couples’ therapy? For many, the answer is bickering, crying, and other heartbreaking scenes. Although these things may happen in a therapy session, they are not and should not be the norm.
Couple’s therapy usually begins with an opening session in which the therapist will help the two people involved to present the problem that is bringing them to therapy and to set goals. In this session, the therapist can see how the two people communicate and if there are any concerning dynamics that will need to be challenged.
Although difficult topics may arise in couple’s therapy, the therapist is merely there to help people resolve them and to communicate well. Contrary to what many believe, a therapist does not take sides or act as a referee.
However, many therapists like to see the two individuals alone in addition to seeing them together. This allows them to get each person’s perspective, including things they cannot or will not say in front of their partner. For many couples therapists, this occurs after the initial meeting, in the second and third appointments.
At the fourth therapy appointment, the couple can finally begin identifying and working on mutual goals. These goals can be related to money, sex, career, responsibilities, children, family, or any topic. In some cases, the goal is to resolve conflicts such as infidelity. The goal is for the couple to discuss their goals and come to agreements together.
While working on their mutual goal, the therapist teaches both members of the couple to communicate more effectively and to learn to be more innocent and trusting of each other. They learn to listen and to truly hear what their partner is saying while also learning how to say what they mean. This allows the couple to set goals and work on them outside of therapy. It also can deepen intimacy and love.
While communication is an important part of couple’s therapy, there are also other skills that couples can take away. Many therapists will teach ways to be more vulnerable and more connected as well as different ways to express empathy and love.
The goal of this type of therapy is to help a relationship to be healthier, more loving, and to have more open communication. However, this does not mean that every therapist is right for every couple. Some couples will have to try more than one therapist before they find the one that is just perfect for them. Although therapy requires a lot of work, the labor pays off in a stronger and more loving relationship.