Image: t.germeau on  Flickr

Image: t.germeau on Flickr

“Will couple’s therapy help us?”

“What can we expect from couple’s therapy?” 

If you’re considering contacting a therapist, it’s absolutely natural to have a million and one questions about how it all works, what’s involved and how long it might take to feel better. All of these are common questions when couples seek professional help. 

Engaging in therapy can sometimes be as anxiety provoking as the problem you are dealing with. Feelings of shame, guilt or thoughts of failure are often normal responses when you’ve been trying to keep it all together for so long. 

The assurance here is that these feelings and thoughts are normal when you’re in the thick of things. Your therapist should take the time to deeply understand your experience in a non-judgmental and caring manner.

Will therapy help save our relationship?”

This is the elephant that enters the room when couples meet for therapy for the first time. That’s ok. It’s really important to remember that your relationship is unique and that the things that shape your world are incredibly diverse and plentiful. If your willing to invest the time and energy into trying new things that may feel outside your normal comfort zone, then there is a huge potential for real meaningful and fulfilling change. 

Take some time to talk to your therapist about your hopes and expectations about therapy. It’s ok to ask these questions. Be willing to explore your doubts and concerns. That’s what your therapist is there for. 

“What can we expect from couples therapy?”

It’s natural to want the feelings of trust and commitment back into your relationship. Couples who commit to the therapeutic process, those who put in the hard work, often describe deeper emotional bonds with each other. As a couple explores their relationship, feelings of greater emotional involvement, respect, love and a deeper sense of worthiness are created. 

These new experiences are heightened by the ability to communicate their true emotions without fear of retaliation and feelings of blame or guilt. Such experiences can dramatically shift the way couples connect, communicate and sustain each other throughout their lives.

A Recipe for change through new experiences.

To be able to create new experiences of relating to each other, therapy must include the right mixture of ingredients. An important element is the idea of open emotional expression. Open emotional expression helps tremendously in addressing old patterns of communication and interactions that in the past resulted in misunderstanding and conflict. 

However, it can be challenging for many couples to openly communicate how they are truly feeling when they are worried about the ramifications of disclosing their underlying feelings and thoughts. This requires absolute assurance that both the ‘communicator’ and the ‘listener’ are supported within an environment that is balanced and safe.

With support from the therapist, couples can learn to authentically express their thoughts and feelings to each other. The hope is to help each partner acquire a deeper understanding of each other, while recognizing their own role in their relationship experience. 

As therapy progresses, each partner learns to listen and validate their experience of the relationship of one another. Over time, conversations that may have started as awkward, foreign and possibly conflict ridden, may result in the creation of loving, secure relationship bonds that enrich the journey of the couple for many years to come.

Arohanui, Simon

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Simon Niblock is an Austin, TX based Marriage and Family Therapy Associate who is dedicated to helping couples and their families find peace, direction and meaning within their relationships. For information regarding couple and family therapy services, contact Simon on 512-470-6976

Johnson, S.M. (2004). The Practice of Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy. Creating Connections. (2nd ed.), New York, NY, Brunner-Routledge.

Jacobson, N.S., & Addis, M.E. (1993). Research on Couples and Couple Therapy What Do We Know? Where Are We Going? Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. February 1993 Vol. 61, No. 1, 85-93. Retrieved from: http://www.rebeccajorgensen.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Research-on-Couples-and-Couple-Therapy.pdf