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What to Expect From Couples Therapy

What to Expect From Couples Therapy

Congratulations!  If you are reading this, you have probably decided to seek help for your relationship.  And this is often a difficult decision.

If things are not going well in our intimate relationships, it can feel like a very personal failing. Many of us prefer to do things on our own, or feel that it is a weakness to seek help from others. But the truth is, most of us have not had very good role models for healthy relationship, and few of us have been taught the skills necessary to have a truly thriving relationship.  And relationships are like any other endeavor–we need to have knowledge and skills to be successful!

So what should you expect from Couples Therapy?

      1. You should learn skills to help you communicate more effectively, and navigate the inevitable bumps in the relationship road.  In Imago, we use the “Intentional Dialogue” as our primary tool.  This method has been used and refined for over 25 years, and has been the standard by which many other approaches have followed.  You will learn to listen deeply to your partner, and to manage your reactivity in ways that allow both of you to feel safe, heard, and understood.  This is the essential skill that leads to relationship success.
      2. You should gain understanding of your “core issues”.  In my experience, every relationship has just 2 or 3 core issues that come up over and over again.  These issues can turn what is essentially a great relationship into a nightmare!  When these issues get triggered, we can become so hurt and angry that we forget all of what is good in the relationship.  Some common issues include: Feeling criticized; not appreciated; feeling either dis-connected or smothered by our partner; feeling controlled; losing our sense of independence, or our sense of “Self”; and so on.  Coupes therapy will help you identify what the core issues are that are operating in your relationship.  It will also help you to understand why those issues are there, and how you can not only end the pain, but in fact, get your needs met in ways that you may have never experienced before in your life!
      3. You should learn how to grow in your relationship. We believe that relationship is both our greatest source of satisfaction, as well as our greatest source of challenge.  Intimate relationships often force us out of our comfort zone.  They require us to see the world through our partner’s eyes, and to “stretch” into parts of ourselves that may be undeveloped. For example, if your partner is the more “emotional” one in the relationship, they may be calling you to stretch into awareness of your own feelings and emotions.  If your partner is the more logical/rational one in the relationship, you may be called on to learn to contain your emotional reactions, and to further develop your rational side.  In short–when we stretch to meet our partner’s needs, we “grow ourselves up”.  But first, we have to…
      4. Learn how to be more generous, loving, and giving to our partner.  Marriage or couples counseling is not just about solving problems, or resolving conflict.  It will also help you to enhance the positives–deepening your connection, and your ability to give and receive love more fully.

Every couple is different, and effective therapy will address your particular needs as a couple.  These are just some general principles that I have found to apply for most couples, and most couples therapy.  I hope this is helpful.