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 reserach based and proven effective couples therapies which include Gottman Method Couples Therapy and Emotion Focused Couples Therapy (EFT).
GOTTMAN COUPLES THERAPY 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.
EMOTION FOCUSED COUPLES THERAPY (EFT) 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.
THE BENEFITS OF COUPLES THERAPY
Improving how you handle and manage conflict
Feeling more connected to your partner
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 COUPLES 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
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. Feel free to call us for a consult to discuss your needs and which service is most appropriate for your relationship.