How can couples therapy help?
Couples come to therapy at different stages in their relationship and it can be incredibly beneficial in many different ways.
Some couples start therapy because they notice unhelpful themes or patterns in their relationship and find themselves stuck having the same argument over and over again. Other couples come to therapy because they are approaching a significant life event – like getting married, becoming parents or the children leaving home – and want to navigate that change in the best possible way.
Many couples don’t make it to therapy until they reach “breaking point”. And although it can be helpful in these situations too, ideally it’s best to come as soon as possible. This will enable you to understand how you’re both feeling and make meaningful changes before things get to a more challenging place.
What happens in couples therapy?
The main goal of couples therapy is usually to understand the dynamic of the relationship and what patterns are at play. When two people come together, they bring both themselves to the relationship but also their past experiences. Very often these vulnerabilities are easier to tolerate in the earlier stages of a relationship, but over time, they become more entrenched causing a lot of unhappiness in the process.
In couples therapy, we work to unravel how these patterns came to be and what underpins them. Once we’ve identified this, we look at ways to exit these patterns and discover new ways for you to be together that facilitate connection. The aim is always to help you both meet each other’s needs and find healthier ways of responding to each other.
As with individual therapy, there are different modalities in couples therapy. Depending on which approach your psychologist works with, there will be different types of exercises. This may involve some imagery work, connection exercises or homework between your sessions to help you better manage difficult situations when they arise.