You see it on television and in conversations with friends: the advice, as soon as someone is arguing with their spouse, is to “go to couples therapy.” But what about other relationships? You might have issues with your parents, siblings, friends, and even coworkers.
Society doesn’t place those relationships as high as one you have with an intimate partner. Still, conflict with a family member or friend can be just as upsetting. Even within romantic relationships, your dynamic will probably change over time, meaning your counseling should reflect your life changes.
Your goal in therapy should be repairing the relationship, whatever form it takes, so you can both thrive and empower one another.
What does couples therapy address?
Couples counseling is meant to guide people through the obstacles that come from a relationship. These issues can be with communication, love languages, infidelity, power imbalances, different parenting styles, and difficult family members. And not all romantic relationship dynamics are the same.
Two people in a new relationship interact with each other differently than people who have been married for twenty years. Some couples choose not to get married or even cohabitate. Still, the right counselor will be a good fit no matter the couple’s unique dynamic and situation.
Does it work for non-romantic relationships?
Perhaps you live and co-parent with a family member, and you’re butting heads about how to handle your child’s inappropriate behavior. Maybe you and your best friend can’t get past a betrayal. Codependent relationships can come in all shapes and sizes. If you’re in conflict with anyone deeply close to you, a couples-focused therapeutic approach could be right for both of you.
You’ll need to consider whether the other person is willing to attend sessions with you. Romantic relationships have higher stakes than other types of relationships, so there’s more incentive to work through issues. But if you’re really close to someone, there’s no reason why several sessions focusing on your relationship dynamic couldn’t work if everyone is on board.
Types of couples therapy
Couples counseling is not a one-size-fits-all definition, either. There are many approaches to coaching through relationship issues. Some of the more popular therapeutic styles are:
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
CBT gets you to examine your underlying thoughts that drive your behaviors. You’ll learn to recognize patterns of thinking and unhealthy preconceived notions. For couples, CBT will help you get at the roots of your thoughts and how they influence your interactions and daily lives.
The Gottman method
Psychologists John and Julie Gottman developed a therapy method that gets couples to build trust and understand one another on a deeper level. You’ll work on undoing resentment that has built up over time, overcome conflicts, and communicate better.
Emotionally-focused couples therapy (EFCT)
EFCT’s method lies in its name—with this therapeutic style, you’ll learn how emotions influence your interactions with each other. You’ll both articulate specific problems you’re having and look at their underlying emotions. This method will help you work through communication issues, loss of trust, and emotional instability. It’s particularly useful for anyone suffering from a mental illness such as PTSD and depression.
Is couples therapy right for you?
If you and the loved one in your life are struggling to move past particular conflicts and behaviors, consider attending therapy together. A counselor can guide you through healthier communication styles, develop positive coping mechanisms when you’re both stressed, and examine the underlying emotions driving your behavior. Eventually, your relationship will emerge stronger after these intimate sessions.
To learn more about how couples therapy might be right for your unique situation, please reach out to us.