How does Couples Therapy work?

Couples therapy can be done using a very structured approach such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or using a less structured approach based on Psychodynamic or Systemic approaches. The approach the practitioner will use will depend on what’s best for you and your partner. You don’t necessary need to select one approach or the other as your therapist will provide an assessment and tailor the therapy according to your needs. Your therapist will help you to evaluate your relationship and to find a way to address potentially difficult topics without conflict.

 

What’s involved in the assessment?

The assessment process normally takes place over three 50 minute sessions, this normally takes three weeks but can be completed in a shorter period of time if preferred. Usually you will attend together initially for the first session and then both attend an individual assessment as part of your couples therapy treatment.

After this you will get feedback from the therapist as to what they think the problems are, what kind of insight they have picked up on and how they feel they may be able to help you. The therapist will be aware of each of your individual treatment goals for the couples therapy work and will provide you with more information about how the treatment will work and the interventions they will be using to improve your relationship satisfaction, which they will be closely monitoring throughout the sessions. The therapist may also use questionnaires to be able to monitor your progress.

 

What approaches are on offer and which one is right for me?

 

Structured approach: Cognitive Behavioural Couples Therapy

Just as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can help individuals to identify and manage behaviours and reactions that are not helpful in terms of their problem, it can help couples too. Cognitive Behavioural Couples Therapy (CBCT) has been specially designed to help couples deal with the issues they face. This is a structured approach with tasks between sessions. Some of the interventions used in this approach are as follows:

  • Looking at thoughts and beliefs that each partner hold and may not have shared with one another already.
  • How to communicate these thoughts, beliefs and feelings more effectively.
  • Looking at behaviours in the relationship and how these behaviours impact the relationship.
  • How to create change based on both your treatment goals.
  • Practicing different communication skills in the session.
  • Interventions to achieve positive change.
  • Increasing positive behaviours in the relationship
  • Assigning tasks between the sessions to help you achieve change
  • Creative approaches such as: Videoing your communication without the therapist present in order to gain as much insight as possible.

 

Usually sessions are on a weekly basis, after some time the frequency of the sessions will decrease to perhaps once a month and then after a certain period you will no longer need the support of the therapist to help with the relationship.

 

Less Structured Approach: Psychodynamic/Systemic 

A less structured approach such as Psychodynamic or Systemic Therapy will explore the two different personalities in the relationship and the dynamic which is occurring when these two personalities come together in the relationship. Interventions will be integrated into the sessions focused on how to improve things in a less structured way. Both of your background and early life experiences will be thoroughly assessed to inform the therapist of the dynamics in the relationships and what each person is bringing and why they may communicate in the way that they do. Feedback about the communication styles and what’s happening in the relationship, tools and techniques will be brought in to the sessions as required. The therapist will be regularly offering insight and guidance and helping you break unhelpful cycles in order to improve relationship satisfaction. 

 

Why try relationship therapy? 

Being in an intimate relationship can be absolutely wonderful. It can also be a lot of work. Many couples hit a rough patch, when neither of them is getting what they want and need from the relationship and problems arise. Although they still love and care for one another deeply, something has gone wrong. In this situation, it is all too easy to fall into a vicious circle of blame and recrimination, while problems escalate. Relationship difficulties can also be triggered by external factors, such as financial problems or one or both parties struggling with issues at work. Changes to the couple, such as when a child is born or leaves home, or when elderly parents need help or pass away, can also lead to problems. While couples can sometimes resolve problems on their own, a lot of heartache can be prevented by seeking help before difficult issues get out of hand.

If you are in a relationship that is passing through a difficult phase, it might be a good idea to consider therapy or relationship counselling. It can be hard, even impossible, for anyone to judge their own relationship and its strengths and weaknesses effectively. With professional help, couples can work through their problems and figure out a healthier way to manage conflicts of interest and sources of stress and strain on the relationship.

If you and your partner or spouse are having difficulties in your relationship, it might be a good idea to consider relationship therapy. With a suitably qualified psychologist or psychotherapist, you can start to explore how unhelpful responses to stress and to certain behaviours are contributing to the problem together. In the safe context of therapy, you can openly discuss issues relating to painful feelings.

 

Should I consider individual therapy also?

Sometimes issues emerge during therapy that suggest that one or both parties in  the relationship might also benefit from some individual therapy.

 

How to book

If you would like to talk to someone about relationship counselling or therapy, please get in touch with us at Private Therapy Clinic, we are based in London and Dubai but offer couples therapy worldwide over Skype. You check our therapists availability by clicking the book online button below.

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