WHAT IS COUPLES THERAPY?
Couples or relationship therapy is a dedicated therapeutic approach to assisting couples of any type with relationship challenges and conflicts that they have not been able to effectively resolve themselves. It typically involves both partners working with a licensed marriage and family therapist who has been trained specifically in relationship dynamics. The objective is to assist the couple in creating new relationship experiences by looking for alternative and effective ways in communication, conflict resolution and interaction.
WHAT IS FAMILY THERAPY?
Family therapy is a specific therapeutic model that focuses on understanding symptoms and interactions within the context of the family itself. This includes the idea that families form and grow as they interact with each other and the various environments that they engage with. Family therapists consider problems as attempts by the family to respond to some type of external influence, lifestyle transition or unfulfilled need. The objective is to help the family create new ways of interacting, communicating and supporting each other rather than focus on individual issues or pathology.
HOW DOES MARRIAGE & FAMILY THERAPY DIFFER FROM OTHER TYPES OF THERAPY?
Marriage and family therapy concentrates on the relational dynamics between two people (a couple) or multiple members of a family unit. It differs greatly from individual therapy in that it focuses primarily on the relationship as its own entity. This is achieved while balancing the emotional, intellectual and intimacy/attachment needs of each person within the relationship. A therapist may conduct a formal assessment of the relationship and introduce specific interventions designed to improve and strengthen interpersonal relationships and reduce unwanted patterns of interaction and behavior. Furthermore, licensed marriage and family therapists (LMFT) are less likely to adopt medical diagnoses that can often label and stigmatize individuals who seek mental health support.
WHAT TYPE OF ISSUES DO COUPLES SEEK THERAPY FOR?
Couples seek therapy for a wide range of issues such as trouble communicating, repetitive arguments and joint decision-making. Topics such as sharing housework, parenting and finances are common issues in relationships. Some couples find that they want to explore unfulfilled emotional or intimacy needs or struggle with anger or intense sadness that impact every aspect of their lives. Some couples find themselves faced with having to manage traumatic experiences, such as infidelity or abuse that threatens the very foundation of the relationship. Regardless of the situation, couples seek therapy after trying numerous ways to resolve the problem themselves without success.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM THERAPY?
To be upfront, therapy can be challenging. While the therapist is a is an advocate for your relationship, you, your partner and your family will be investing a lot of time and energy into addressing the problem(s) that led you to therapy. Essentially, if it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.
WHAT IF MY PARTNER IS RELUCTANT TO COME TO THERAPY?
It takes two to tango as they say. Relationship change is possible with only one person in the room, however creating new relationship experiences is best achieved when your both in the room. If your partner is reluctant to join you, there may be a wide range of reasons for them not to attend. Therapy is offered with an open invitation. It can be detrimental or counterintuitive to the therapeutic process if you attempt to manipulate or influence someone to attend. Respect, patience and knowledge can often be the best approach in helping someone who may be reluctant in participating. There is always the option of considering relationship counseling on your own.
WHAT IF YOU CAN'T HELP US WITH OUR PROBLEM?
We’re all human. Even the world’s most acclaimed therapists can find themselves flummoxed with a challenging relationship problem. As a licensed marriage and family therapist associate it is my professional responsibility to help you find someone who may be in a better position to help you with your problem. I am extremely mindful that it is your perception of the problem and how therapy is proceeding that is most important. Constantly assessing the progress of therapy by seeking your input is the most effective and respectful way of determining if we’re all on the right path to long-term relationship change.