Relationships are such an integral part of our day to day lives, so when we are unhappy or not satisfied in our marriage or relationship it has a significant impact on each partners overall health and well-being. Research shows that to make a relationship last , couples must become better friends, learn to manage conflict and create ways to support each others hopes for the future. Our couples therapists use a combined approach from the most research based and proven effective couples therapies which include Gottman Method Couples Therapy and Emotion Focused Couples Therapy (EFT).
Gottman Couples Counseling
Gottman Method Couples Therapy, which is a structured, goal-oriented, scientifically based treatment approach. Gottman therapy is based on years of scientific reserach where they followed long term happily married couples to see what they were doing that made their relationships work. Based upon this research, Gottman therapy is designed to help couples break through barriers to achieve greater understanding, communication, connection and intimacy in their relationship. Gottman therapy interventions help both partners work on strategies for increasing respect, affection, closeness and understanding. Additionally it gives specific concrete tools to help break through and resolve conflict when partners feel stuck, while keeping conflict discussions calmer and more constructive.
When you are working with one of our Gottman trained psychologists, you will learn to better understand your partner's inner psychological world, increase positive feelings toward your spouse/partner and move together toward your goals. Not all conflict can be solved-there are some things you and your spouse (or significant other) will never see eye to eye on. However, Gottman Method counseling can help you learn to better manage conflict as a couple. You'll also learn to repair your relationship when arguments or conflict does come up.
Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) is a short-term form of therapy that focuses on adult attachment/bonding. The therapist and clients look at patterns in the relationship and take steps to create a more secure bond and develop more trust to move the relationship in a healthier, more positive direction. EFT focuses on observing the dynamics between couples to tie this behavior to the dynamics in their home interactions, and helps to direct new conversations and interactions based on more honest feelings. The first step in EFT is to recognize and de-escalate the couple’s negative cycle of interactions, and help them see and understand the pattern that keeps repeating relationship. The next stage works to restructure interactions, where the therapist helps clients discuss their fears and needs in the relationship, using language that doesn’t push the other away. The goal is to help both partners learn to turn toward each other and discuss their needs and to become more open and responsive to each other. Research studies on EFT have found that 70-75% of couples who do EFT move from distress to recovery and approximately 90% show significant improvements.
REASONS TO COME TO COUPLES AND MARRIAGE COUNSELING
Couples choose to come to couples counseling for many reasons. Below is a list of only a few reasons a couple may choose to see a Gottman Couples Therapist or EFT Marriage Counselor. The truth is that couples counseling can help committed couples who are considering marriage, engaged couple, engaged couples, married couples looking to strengthen their marriage or even married couples on the brink of divorce. Wherever you are on your relationship journey, our marriage & couples psychologists can help.
A few reasons couples may consider couples or marriage counseling include:
Feeling disconnected from your spouse or partner
One partner had an affair but wants to stay in the marriage
Non traditional relationships or blended families
You don't get along with each other's families
Emotionally distanced couples on the verge of separation
Pre-marital counseling to set a marriage up for success
THE BENEFITS OF COUPLES AND MARRIAGE THERAPY
The benefits of couples therapy will be slightly different for each couple. Why? Because each couple involves two unique individuals (with separate life experiences, values & expectations) and a unique set of concerns, problems or goals for our work together. After getting to know you and completing a relationship assessment, our psychologists will work with you and your spouse or partner to set specific goals for your relationship.
A sample of possible goals for couples and relationship counseling include:
Improving how you handle and manage conflict
Feeling more connected to your partner
Frequent conflict and arguments in a marriage
Deepening intimacy, satisfaction and connection
Improving your friendship with your partner
Feeling like a team and partnership
Making each others life dreams and goals come true
Supporting one another in managing the stress and parenting
COUPLES COUNSELING IS FOR HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS TOO!
I think of ideal couples therapy as preventative, not a last resort! The single biggest mistake that couples often make is waiting too long before seeking out help to address the problem areas and issues that are arising in their relationship. Oftentimes couples seem to think that their relationship has to be in danger in order to come to therapy; which of course, if this is true then you want to seek help, but the earlier the better! Keep in mind that even "good" relationships often have some areas that they could work on that will prevent future larger problem areas from arising. In fact, this is often one of the best times to come to couples therapy, before you are in crisis or having severe and deeply entrenched issues. If you are experiencing some marital difficulties it is never too early or a bad idea to discuss them with a professional who specializes in couples therapy. DONT WAIT UNTIL YOU ARE IN CRISIS!
TALKING TO YOUR PARTNER ABOUT COUPLES THERAPY
You want to go to couples counseling to invest in your marriage or relationship. You're tired of living with the arguments and know things can be better. But you aren't sure how to bring the topic of marriage counseling up with your spouse or partner. Here are some tips for talking to your partner about beginning couples or marriage counseling:
Recognize and empathize with your partner if they are having resistance which is quite normal. Rather than reacting to this
Be vulnerable and real. Honestly explain the issue from your perspective and how it makes you feel. Acknowledge that it is ok they may not agree but that you would like to understand their feelings as well on the issue. For example "When we fight I have a hard time recovering for a week. The things we say to each other are unkind and I do want us to treat each other this way."
Try not to bring it up in the heat or a fight or argument but calmly at a later time so they know it is coming not from the conflict but from a well reasoned place.
State what your goals are and things you personally want to work on or hope to address, rather than just focusing or predominantly focusing on what you see as their issue or contribution.
Focus on sharing positive goals "I want to laugh more again with you like we used to" or "I want to be happier and more connected"
Remind them of the benefits that could come from it (feeling more connected, feeling like more of a team, understanding and communicating better, handling conflict better etc.
Tell them it can be preventative, rather than a last resort
WHAT IF MY PARTNER IS NOT WILLING TO GO TO COUPLES THERAPY?
If you have tried all of the above ideas and your spounse or significant other is still not willing to go to therapy then we reccomend you talk to one of the couples therapists individually. We often start by understanding what the issues are and coaching you on ways to talk about it with your partner and to see if they are willing to come to at least one of your sessions to discuss their concerns, before agreeing to come. If your partner is completely unwilling then we can work in individual therapy on ways you can still attempt to work on the relationship issues from your end. This is with the awareness and caveat that this may only go so far to addressing the issues if there is only one party involved. Sometimes the therapy involves helping you to figure out how you feel about continuing in the relationship if your partner is unwilling to work on it and/or change. Are you able to come to a place of acceptance or do you feel you need to move on. This is not a decision a therapist ever makes for you, we are there to help you figure out your feelings and what is right for you and your individual relationship. Please call us for a phone consult if you are in this situation and your partner is unwilling to go but you really feel you need help. We can discuss the options and whether we can be of help.
WHAT IF MY PARTNER IS CONSIDERING DIVORCE & ISN'T WILLING TO GO?
If you or your partner is hesitant about couples therapy or one is unwillig to go or one may be considering divorce then please visist the page that says ON BRINK OF DIVORCE which is about DISCERNMENT COUNSELING. This is a time limited service specifically designed for the couple where one person is not initially willing to try couples therapy because they are already strongly considering divorce. If you do decide to move forward with a divorce, our office also offers Collaborative Divorce services. Feel free to call us for a consult to discuss your needs and which service is most appropriate for your relationship.
BEGIN COUPLES OR MARRIAGE COUNSELING IN TAMPA, FL
Your relationship doesn't have to stay stuck in the same old patterns. At our Tampa Bay counseling clinic, Our team of expert psychologists can help you and your partner reconnect. We offer evidence based marriage and couples counseling services using Gottman Couples Therapy & Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy. Reach out and contact Wellness Psychological Services to schedule a couples or marriage therapy intake appointment. Let's begin setting the foundation for your relationship to be as strong as possible!