Couples and Relationship Therapy

Couples and relationship therapy, also known as couples therapy or marriage counselling, is a form of psychotherapy that aims to help couples resolve conflicts, improve their communication, and strengthen their relationships. It provides a safe and supportive space for couples to explore their issues, identify patterns of interaction, and develop strategies to improve their relationship satisfaction.

Here are some key points about couples and relationship therapy:

  • Goals: The primary goal of couples therapy is to improve the relationship and address the issues that couples are facing. This can include improving communication, resolving conflicts, rebuilding trust, enhancing intimacy, or addressing specific challenges such as infidelity, parenting disagreements, or sexual issues.
  • Process: Couples therapy typically involves both partners attending sessions together. The therapist facilitates open and honest communication, provides guidance, and helps couples gain insight into their relationship dynamics. The therapist may use various techniques and interventions tailored to the specific needs of the couple.
  • Communication and Conflict Resolution: Couples therapy focuses on improving communication skills, as effective communication is vital for a healthy relationship. Therapists help couples learn to express their needs, listen actively, and resolve conflicts constructively. They may teach techniques like active listening, “I” statements, and negotiation skills.
  • Relationship Patterns: Therapists help couples identify negative patterns or dynamics that contribute to relationship distress. By understanding these patterns and their underlying causes, couples can develop healthier ways of relating to each other. Therapy may explore issues such as power imbalances, unresolved past conflicts, or attachment styles.
  • Emotional Support and Validation: Couples therapy provides a supportive environment where partners can express their feelings and experiences. The therapist validates their emotions and helps them develop empathy and understanding for each other’s perspectives.
  • Homework and Practice: Couples therapy often involves homework assignments designed to reinforce the skills learned in therapy sessions. These assignments may include practicing new communication techniques, engaging in shared activities, or working on individual personal growth.
  • Confidentiality and Neutrality: Couples therapy is conducted in a confidential setting, and therapists maintain a neutral stance, focusing on the well-being of the relationship rather than taking sides. The therapist’s role is to guide the process and facilitate constructive dialogue.
  • Life transitions: Major life transitions such as the birth of a child, a job change, or moving to a new location can place stress on a relationship and lead to conflict.

Duration and Frequency: The length of couples therapy varies depending on the specific needs and goals of the couple. Some couples may see improvements in a few sessions, while others may benefit from longer-term therapy. The frequency of sessions is typically once a week or biweekly, but it can be adjusted based on the couple’s availability and progress.

It’s important to note that couple’s therapy is not a guaranteed solution, and not all relationships can be saved. In some cases, therapy may help couples gain clarity and decide to separate amicably. However, many couples find couples therapy to be a valuable resource for enhancing their relationship and improving their overall satisfaction.

EMOTIONALLY FOCUSED THERAPY (EFT)

Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) is an approach to couples therapy that focuses on understanding and reshaping emotional responses within the relationship. Developed by Dr. Sue Johnson in the 1980s, EFT is rooted in attachment theory and aims to create secure and lasting emotional bonds between partners. It has been widely researched and shown to be effective in helping couples improve their relationships.

Here are some key features of Emotionally Focused Therapy:

  1. Emotionally Focused Approach: EFT recognises that emotions are at the core of our experiences and interactions. It explores the emotional responses and needs of each partner and how they shape the relationship dynamics. EFT aims to help couples create more secure emotional connections and a sense of safety within the relationship.
  2. Attachment Theory: EFT is based on the understanding that human beings have an innate need for secure attachment bonds. It emphasises how early attachment experiences influence adult relationships. The therapy focuses on identifying and addressing attachment patterns, such as anxious attachment or avoidant attachment, that may be causing distress in the relationship.
  3. Three Stages of EFT: EFT is typically conducted in three stages. In the first stage, the therapist helps couples identify and understand the negative interactional patterns that cause distress. The second stage focuses on helping partners express their emotions and needs more openly, while fostering empathy and understanding between them. The final stage involves consolidating the changes made and developing strategies to maintain a healthier relationship.
  4. Creating a Safe Environment: EFT therapists create a safe and non-judgmental space for couples to explore their emotions and vulnerabilities. They work to establish a therapeutic alliance with each partner, offering support and guidance throughout the process.
  5. Change through Emotional Experience: EFT aims to create new emotional experiences within the therapy sessions that can shift the way partners perceive and respond to each other. By providing opportunities for emotional engagement and responsiveness, EFT helps couples break free from negative cycles of interaction and develop more positive patterns.
  6. Integration of Techniques: EFT integrates various therapeutic techniques and interventions to help couples achieve their goals. These can include reflection, validation, restructuring of interactions, enhancing communication, and building intimacy. The specific techniques used may vary depending on the couple’s unique needs and the therapist’s approach.
  7. Research and Effectiveness: Emotionally Focused Therapy has been extensively researched and has demonstrated positive outcomes for couples. Studies have shown that EFT can lead to significant improvements in relationship satisfaction, reduced distress, and lasting changes in relationship dynamics.
  8. Individual and Group EFT: While EFT is commonly used for couples therapy, it can also be adapted for individual therapy and group settings. Individual EFT focuses on exploring attachment patterns and how they impact one’s relationships, while group EFT provides a supportive environment for individuals to share their experiences and receive feedback from others.

Emotionally Focused Therapy is known for its effectiveness in helping couples repair and strengthen their emotional bonds. By addressing the underlying emotions and attachment needs, EFT can bring about positive changes and foster healthier, more fulfilling relationships. At Family Nurture, some of our therapists provide couples and relationship therapy using Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT). At Family Nurture, the EFT therapist is committed to supporting couples, families, and relationships of diverse backgrounds, such as LGBTIQ+.