It can be intimidating starting couples therapy, and each therapist can have a slightly different approach. If you are considering beginning couples therapy with myself, here are a few key concepts to clarify my philosophy as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.
- When working with a couple, I see your relationship as my client. It is a common concern that the couples therapist will “pick sides” and see one partner as the problem. However, since I see the energy between the two of you as my client, there is no side to choose from.
- If you have done individual therapy, you may have noticed there is often a rhythm that you and your therapist create and sessions tend to “feel” pretty consistent even as some sessions are a little more emotional than others. Things are different in couples therapy as we are addressing so many ongoing dynamics. It is quite common for sessions to feel dramatically different from one another; some may feel deeply heartfelt and rewarding while others may feel contentious and difficult. This is very normal and to be expected. Stick with the difficult sessions and lean into the joy of the heartwarming ones is my advice here.
- Therapy can feel like a shot in the dark when wanting to heal your relationship and it is normal to feel skeptical that talking about your feelings and concerns can actually strengthen the relationship. However, from my end, there is a highly strategic component to couples therapy. Most basically, couples usually come to therapy usually when they feel stuck in a cycle they can’t get out of on their own. I gather a lot of information to fully identify what your problematic cycle. At this point, I can create a plan to find strategies to create new, healthier and happier cycles for your relationship.
- The more willing you are to take accountability for the ways that you can personally interrupt the negative cycles in your relationship, the more quickly progress can be attained. One of the most sure-fire ways to delay progress in couples therapy is waiting for your partner to be the one to change.
- Finally, I know, a lot of pain, resentment or confusion often brings a couple to therapy but I am deeply motivated to increase your sense of joy and connection in your relationship. This goal can include addressing any personal trauma for either partner if applicable, improving communication skills, and increasing each person’s sense of being to cope with stress in healthy ways. I care about each person’s experience in the relationship because the happier and more readily you can cope with stress, the more you can engage with your partner in vulnerable, intimate and healthy ways.