How Marriage Counseling Can Help You as a Couple
It’s common knowledge that our society has high rates of divorce and relationship breakups. Couples counseling gives partners a chance to work out relationships instead of ending them. It can be heartbreaking to see couples, who’ve invested time, energy and emotion into a relationship, give up because they could not work through their most challenging issues. Couples counseling helps couples learn how to deal with their problems and learn how to better communicate with each other. Many couples benefit from counseling and many relationships are saved through the guidance of a skilled therapist.
What is the best type of counseling for couples?
The key to learning whether a certain type of therapy approach is helpful to individuals or couples is systematic evaluation of its effectiveness with a range of couples. If a couples therapy approach has been tested in randomized controlled trials and has been shown to be effective, it is called “evidence-based.” Therapists who provide evidence-based treatment use a variety of approaches to ensure that they are following the best evidence, based on careful research and evaluation.
Researchers have looked at over 40 years of research on couples therapy (Benson et al, 2012) and found that couples can benefit when they receive treatment that follows five underlying principles.
- Changes the views of the relationship
- Modifies dysfunctional behavior
- Decreases emotional avoidance
- Improves communication
- Promotes strengths
At Portland Psychotherapy, our couples therapists uses approaches guided by these 5 principles.
What will I learn in couples therapy and why is it useful?
Couples typically come to treatment because they are unhappy, and that’s mostly because they haven’t been successful at resolving their conflicts. They‘ve either disengaged and shut down emotionally, or have become overly argumentative. In both cases the primary job of the therapist is to assist in moving the couple from conflict to resolution.
That generally requires:
- Guiding the couple through a problem-solving process to resolution on each of their stuck points, and in a way that helps both partners feel supported and heard.
- Teaching the couple skills to handle any future differences together, without falling into the traps that lead to resentment, blame, disengagement and detachment or fighting.
- Providing skills to help keep intense emotion from derailing the positive feelings that each has for the other. This helps keep a positive and loving emotional tone between the couple, improves communication and reduces stress.
- Helping each to see how their early experiences contributed to bad habits and unhelpful behaviors and learn to detach in order to help prevent ongoing emotional escalation and reactivity.
Couples therapy works to realize these objectives so that the couple can enjoy a long-lasting and long-loving partnership free of fighting and full of affection (including sexual intimacy).
What can I expect during our meetings?
If you choose a couples counselor at Portland Psychotherapy, the first session with include a discussion of your reasons for coming to counseling and any goals you may have. The counselor will also ask you questions to learn more about you as a couple.
Questions might include :
- How long have you been together? What attracted you to each other?
- What was it like when things were good between you?
- When you fight/argue, do you resolve issues? How do you make up?
- What prompted you to come for therapy at this time? What changes would you like to see?
Typically, the first session with therapist will begin with discussing topics that are NOT the most difficult issues in your relationship. The format tends to help couples consistently create an atmosphere of safety and curiosity about how your partner sees the world.
Yyou will also be supported in really listening to each other, without the fear of being blamed or criticized. The therapist will use formats that encourages each member of the couple to express themselves in a way that minimizes complaining, judging, or blaming, and focuses on identifying solutions.
To find out more or explore therapy options at Portland Psychotherapy
If you are interested in seeing one of our marriage counselors, you can see more about them here. If you would like to ask a question about our couples and marriage counseling services, you can do that below.