Couples therapy in a nutshell
What is couples therapy? Couples therapy is therapeutic support to help couples who are struggling in their relationship. Relationships often seem to be failing because of various reasons. Apart from the initial change from “falling in love”, which is the stage of initial attraction and discovering each other and identifying what is similar in each other, to “standing in love”, where we learn what is different about the other, yet still feel love and accept the other in their difference, in a knowing way. The main difficulties clients may present with are:When a couple are not making enough time to enjoy being together Misunderstandings in communication Not recognising that the issue is from an external source rather than between them One partner in the couple feels that they need to have more of a sense of autonomy than the other Thinking that their partner can predict or mind read what they need from them.
Couples therapy can help by supporting both partners to recognise that it is okay to be “different but equal”. To help partners gain a deeper understanding about where the other person is coming from, what emotional needs may underlie feelings of insecurity that may be difficult for both to deal with. To help them recognise that as humans we often show love in the way we need it to be shown to us, rather than be aware that the way a partner needs to be shown love may be different from our own.
Other struggles that a couple may experience can be the change in relationship when a baby or another addition to the family comes along. Despite, the joy that a new child may bring, for one partner, this may bring feelings of being “left out” or less special, this can result in feelings of shame or guilt. We often may forget that with any new responsibility there will certainly be less time to be shared.
Furthermore, when one partner experiences the death of a parent or someone else who was close, by the very nature of grief being isolating, may make both individuals in the relationship feel alone. Even worse, when there is a close death that affects both partners, because as humans we grieve in different ways this will also have a potentially negative impact on the perception of the relationship.
Other losses such as loss of employment, ill health diagnosis or redundancy can also have a negative impact on the individual which will then impact on the relationship.
The reason why couples therapy is helpful to find resolution to whatever struggles you may be having is because the therapist can be present, non judgemental and neutral therefore supporting you both to find resolution to whatever struggles you may be having.
It is important to recognise that the role of a couple’s therapist is to facilitate and support you as a couple to do the work. In my experience there are generally two main reasons why couple’s therapy may not have a good outcome; these are either due to the therapist's lack of experience or not managing to contain what is presented by the couple or because the couple have sought support too late.
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About Maureen Anderson
Maureen Anderson M.A. Bsc(hons) psychology. U.K.C.P. registered psychotherapist/clinical supervisor.
Currently co-writing a book mental health workers on how to use Clinical Supervision.
Experience includes private practise and working within mental health, prisons, young people, couples and refugees.