Couples therapy is for those who are in an intimate relationship. They can be married or not, in a same-sex or heterosexual relationship. It is sometimes referred to as marriage counselling or marriage therapy. The goal of couples therapy is to improve the clients’ relationship, improve communication skills or perhaps help to foster intimacy. Although the focus of couples therapy is on the couple, there are times when individual psychological issues of one or both parties need to be addressed.
Therapy often includes sessions designed to improve problem solving, build communication skills, and identify life goals and relationship responsibilities. Other common issues include infidelity, financial problems, illness and other life changes, and anger.
Depending on the level of distress in the relationship, therapy can be short term or over a period of several months. While a licensed therapist can counsel couples, marriage and family therapists specialize in relationship issues.
How Can Couples Therapy Help?
Let’s say that you and your partner are having problems because every time that you disagree, you end up in a huge argument and resolve absolutely nothing. In fact, the two of you are growing apart because of the constant stress in the relationship. You’ve actually thought about leaving your partner, but decide to try couples therapy first.
Once in therapy, you learn that both of you need help with the way that you communicate, and with your problem solving approach. You also learn that you are actually repeating a style of interaction that your parents displayed: they yelled and solved nothing, and finally grew apart and divorced. With your new-found knowledge that part of the problem is that you are imitating what you saw your parents do, you can now change your behavior. Using respectful communication techniques and a problem strategy that works, you improve your relationship over time. The positive emotions for your partner resurface and you can’t imagine that you wanted to end the relationship.