Couples’ Therapy can be tremendously beneficial to partners who want to improve their relational skills, or adjust to change, (such as becoming new parents, having the last child leave home, retiring, etc.). Therapy can be critically important for couples who have become stuck in unhealthy or “empty” relational patterns, or have suffered trauma (such as affairs, illness, death of loved ones, etc.).
Benefits of couples’ therapy may include:
- Having learned more effective ways of communicating (and making repairs when needed)
- Clarity regarding agreements about how each will care for the other and the relationship
- A greater sense of understanding and being understood by the partner
- Trusting that most conflicts can be worked through without deep hurt or drama
- Enhanced emotional and/or physical intimacy
- Restoration of trust
- Experiencing more fun and joy!
One of my pet peeves is couples’ work being done from only one theoretical framework, and/or where the same series of exercises is prescribed in the same order for all couples. Such approaches do not, in my opinion, give enough importance to the uniqueness of each coupleship. Instead, I see effective couples’ work starting with a full assessment of strengths and challenges. Excellent couples’ work, I believe, should be an integration of a number of theories and approaches, which may include:
- Individual Personality Styles
- Individual Histories
- Individual Attachment Styles
- The Relationship’s History
- Communication Skills
- External Stressors (Finances, Relations, Cultural Biases, etc.)
- Internal Stressors (Addictions, Mood disorders, Health Issues, etc.)
- Significant Events (Losses, Changes, Trauma)
Some couples, such as biracial couples, blended-family couples, infertile couples, same sex couples, couples where one or both are transgendered, couples where there is a significant age difference, and couples who have decided to separate, etc. may have some very special circumstances to explore and process. These concerns, as all other couple concerns, are handled with the utmost compassion and respect.
I continue to strive to add to my knowledge base. I have studied with many of the most renowned and published couples’ therapists. I have attended workshops (but am not certified by): Harville Hendrix (“Imago” Therapy); John Gottman (“Gottman Method”); Ellen Bader and Pete Pearson (developmental-skills focus); David Schnarch (differentiation focus); Michelle Weiner Davis (“Divorce Busting”); Vann Joines (“Personality Adaptations” and “T.A. Today”); Barry McCarthy (sexual enrichment); Janis Abrahms- Spring (affairs); Sharon Wegscheider Cruse (relational alcohol and drug issues). I have completed Level I training in “Emotionally-Focused Therapy” (Susan Johnson); and “PACT” (Psychobiological Approach to Couples’ Therapy–Stan Tatkin).