6 Common Approaches In Couples Therapy And How They Can Help Your Relationship
Couples therapy is a great way to make sure that your relationship can stand the test of time. Every couple has problems at some point, and sometimes it takes an outside person to help you through those trying times and come out on the other side with a stronger relationship.
There are many different avenues that a couple’s therapy can take, depending on your situation. There are four main types of counseling approaches, and each can be applied to couples therapy in different ways. It can help you understand the different counseling approaches that your couple’s therapist might use, including different types of couple counseling.
What Is Couples Therapy?
Couples therapy or couples counseling is when a couple seeks mental health treatment together from a licensed professional. Most people go to couples therapy because they have a specific topic or set of topics they want to talk about as a couple, such as infidelity, mistrust, or a lack of communication. However, some couples choose to get counseling to strengthen their relationship without a specific issue in mind. For example, a couple may choose to attend premarital counseling, or they may go to counseling to work on affection, emotional expression, family planning, or concerns related to parenting.
Counseling is not one-size-fits-all. Every couple out there is unique, so it only makes sense that there’s a vast assortment of approaches that can be used in couples therapy or counseling.
4 Main Types Of Counseling Approaches
There are four main types of counseling approaches, which are often used in couples counseling. With each type of counseling approach, there are various methods used in individual and couples counseling.
Psychodynamic counseling was first developed from the research and findings of Sigmund Freud and is based on the idea that true knowledge and understanding is possible by understanding three human mind areas: the conscious, the unconscious, and the subconscious. The idea of this counseling approach is that by bringing the unconscious and subconscious into the conscious, the three elements of the mind are working in harmony.
The humanistic counseling approach is based on the belief that it is not life experiences that cause problems but how one experiences these events. How one experiences life then also affects how one thinks about themselves and others. Therefore, humanistic counseling approaches aim to explore thoughts and feelings to work out solutions to their problems.
Behavioral counseling is based on the effect environment has on a person’s behavior. Counselors who use this approach believe that behavior is learned, and therefore, it can be unlearned. It focuses on specific techniques aiming to change unwanted behaviors. For couples struggling with behavioral issues from one or both sides of the relationship, this can be effective.
An integrative approach to counseling takes some elements from each of the other three types of counseling approaches. The idea behind an integrated approach is that there is some truth to each of the three types of counseling approaches. Only a combination of the three will be effective in treating the whole person or relationship.
6 Counseling Approaches For Couples Therapy
This is not an extensive list of the counseling approaches and methods that might be used in couples therapy. However, it may give you a starting point for understanding how a therapist might initiate and conduct couples counseling.
Emotionally Focused Therapy For Couples
EFT or emotionally focused therapy for couples is a highly regarded and well-researched modality. It is an example of a humanistic approach. Developed in the 1980s, EFT is very much so what it sounds like. This form of therapy focuses on emotions, emotional responses, and, in the case of romantic partners, creating positive patterns of interaction and strengthening the bond between the individuals in a partnership.
The Cornerstone Approach developed and researched by counselors with Howard University is an integrative counseling approach to couples counseling. This approach is based on four cornerstones of a good marriage or relationship. These four cornerstones are resiliency, social support, adaptability, and self-fulfillment. These cornerstones are defined, explored, and reinforced to allow couples to reach fulfillment individually and together.
The Journal of Counseling Psychology published a study by E.L. Worthington et al. in 1997 about strategic hope-focused relationship enrichment counseling. This is a humanistic approach to couple’s therapy. This method is for couples who already have a healthy and stable relationship and want to strengthen and enrich that relationship to new heights.
The study showed that it was extremely effective, and overall outcomes for those who did enrichment therapy were better than the control group who did not have the therapy.
Walker’s model used in couples therapy is a behavioral approach to couples counseling designed for couples who face violent or angry behavior from one or both partners. The method includes both individual and couples counseling to address, understand, and change behaviors personally and in relationships, and couples counseling interventions play a role in the improvement of every couple's relationship.
Please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) if you or someone you know is experiencing abuse. The hotline is available 24/7, and chat options, as well as information on abuse, how to create a safety plan, how to support others, and more, are available at https://www.thehotline.org/.
Postmodern Narrative Therapy
A post-modern approach is a humanistic approach to couples counseling. According to a Counseling Psychology Quarterly study, this approach works best for couples from different cultural backgrounds, though it may also be helpful in use with couples from different economic backgrounds.
This approach evaluates thoughts and behaviors in the context of their culture or background and the story they have written for themselves. This can help couples go through challenges together because it can bring a new understanding of the relationship. You can also learn more about your partner and how they relate to you and the world around them based on their background.
Behavioral Couples Therapy
According to the National Institute of Health, behavioral couples therapy is a treatment approach developed specifically for couples where at least one partner has a substance use disorder. It attempts to reduce usage by restructuring destructive couple interactions that often lead to substance use.
This type of couples therapy will be part of the individual’s treatment plan, a strengthening of the relationship, and an understanding from the other partner about their partner’s illness and how it might be managed.
If you or someone you know lives with a substance use disorder or might be, please contact the SAMHSA National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357.
Choosing The Right Counseling Approach For You
Choosing the right counseling approach is often largely left up to the counselor or therapist you and your partner decide to see. After an introductory session where the counselor gets to know you and your partner and why you seek therapy, they can decide what counseling approach will work best for you and your situation.
If you want to suggest a counseling approach based on this information and your situation, this may be helpful for your therapist. Even if they do not want to take that approach, you suggesting it will give them more insight into what you feel the problems are and how you believe they might be addressed. Additionally, if they don’t work with the approach you need or the concern you want to address, a therapist may be able to refer you to someone who does.
It is also okay to look for a therapist without knowing what approach or modality you want a therapist to use. You can look for a provider who works with couples as a whole or someone who specializes in the concern you and your partner want to talk about. Asking questions about a therapist or counselor’s experience, the approaches they use, and any other questions you have about how they work as a provider can help you see if they might be a good fit for you.
As with any therapy or counseling, of course, remember that the same approach doesn’t always work for all couples and situations. Sometimes, the beginning approach does not give results, and another approach is tried midway through therapy. This is normal, and there’s no need to feel discouraged. If you and your partner find that the first therapist you see isn’t the right fit, it is perfectly okay to seek a new one. When you find a professional that you click with, it can make a world of difference.
Online Couple’s Counseling With Regain
When you get therapy through Regain, you can have a group chat with your partner and your therapist through text, voice, or video. All you need to participate in is a smartphone, tablet, or laptop. Regain also offers individual counseling for those who wish to work with an online therapist or counselor one-on-one. The platform makes it easier and faster to start services and change providers if you need to.
Online therapy has been found to be just as effective as in-person therapy for a range of treatment options including couples therapy. Research suggests that online intervention methods can help to remove barriers typically faced by couples who wish to seek treatment.
Couples therapy can take many forms, each with its own advantages for different situations and concerns. Discovering the right method for your relationship and unique situation, with the help of a mental health professional, can help you and your partner regain or establish a healthy relationship to yourselves and each other.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
What is the Gottman Method Couples Therapy?
The Gottman Method Couples Therapy is a relationship therapy that helps couples strengthen respect, compassion, and intimacy within a partnership. John and Julie Gottman developed it after decades of research on marital stability and divorce prediction.
Gottman Method Couples Therapy is the Sound Relationship House Theory that describes nine crucial aspects for a thriving relationship. The “floors” of the Sound Relationship House include building love maps (knowing each other’s inner world), turning towards each other instead of away, maintaining positivity, managing conflict in a healthy way. All of these aspects are contained within the “walls” of unwavering trust and commitment. Sessions focus on moving through the Sound Relationship House levels to build deeper intimacy within the partnership.
Therapeutic interventions in the Gottman Method are specifically targeted to couples’ unique needs. This type of therapy aims to help couples grow in deep friendship.
Studies have found that Gottman Method Couples Therapy is effective for couples of varying cultural backgrounds and sexual orientations.
Many couples therapists are trained to provide Gottman Method Couples Therapy. If you and your partner are interested in trying this type of relationship therapy, visit the Gottman Referral Network to locate nearby Gottman-trained couples therapists.
What is the best therapy for couples?
You may be wondering, ‘what are the best couples therapy techniques for my partner and me?’ Various types of therapy are designed to help couples navigate challenges and strengthen intimacy. Some of the best (or most highly regarded) couples therapy methods include emotionally focused therapy, Gottman Method Couples Therapy, and solution-focused therapy.
Emotionally focused therapy or EFT is a humanistic approach developed in the 1980s. It is proven to be effective at improving emotional control and increasing positive interactions. Emotionally focused therapy can also address individual depression and anxiety or explore challenges within a family dynamic.
Gottman Method Couples Therapy is a relationship therapy that helps couples strengthen intimacy and understanding within a partnership. It is based on the Sound Relationship House Theory, which posits nine components of a healthy relationship. Components of the Sound Relationship House include building love maps, turning towards each other instead of away, maintaining positivity, managing conflict in a healthy way, open discussion around life aspirations.This method has been proven effective for all couples regardless of their sexual orientation or cultural background.
Solution-focused therapy is a type of therapy where couples focus on a specific problem they are facing. The discussion is typically very focused on solving the situation at hand. It may not be the best couples therapy if there are multiple complex problems in the relational dynamic.
There is no particular type of therapy couples respond to the best too. A couple must decide the best therapy method for their specific needs, preferences, and current challenges.
What is a psychobiological approach to couple therapy?
The Psychobiological approach focuses on the impact of developmental neuroscience, attachment theory, and arousal control in maintaining healthy relationships. It is a reliable approach to therapy couples with extensive challenges can find benefit from.
How do you counsel a married couple?
Marriage counseling can be beneficial for many types of couples and even save some relationships. Sessions are conducted by licensed mental health professionals such as couples or marriage and family therapists. The therapist may employ various techniques to help a couple process conflicts and explore underlying emotions. In couples therapy, a marriage and family therapist can help a couple to strengthen communication skills, mutual understanding, and intimacy.
There is no particular type of therapy couples respond best to. However, studies have shown that one of the best couples therapy methods is Gottman Method Couples Therapy.
John and Julie Gottman developed Gottman Method Couples Therapy. It is a type of therapy that is based on the Sound Relationship House Theory. They discuss nine aspects that form a thriving relationship to form the Sound Relationship House. Building upon these levels that are essential for healthy partnership help couples to increase levels of intimacy and connection. Before beginning Gottman Method Couples Therapy, a couple will undergo an assessment that allows therapeutic interventions to be specifically tailored to their needs.
Additional therapy types effective for couples include emotionally focused therapy (EFT), narrative therapy, and solution-focused therapy.
What is the #1 cause of divorce?
Studies revealed that the #1 most common issue leading to divorce in America is money problems, particularly poor communication around finances. Other marital problems that often lead to divorce include lack of sexual intimacy, infidelity, and substance abuse.
If you and your partner are experiencing challenges, you may consider seeking the support of a mental health professional such as a couples therapist or marriage and family therapist.
What is the Gottman repair checklist?
The Gottman repair checklist is a tool utilized in relationship therapy known as Gottman Method Couples Therapy. It is a list of phrases organized in several categories: I Feel, Sorry, Get to Yes, I Need to Calm Down, Stop Action, and I Appreciate. Referencing this list helps couples to communicate in constructive ways when conversations become heated.
The Gottman Method Couples Therapy has been proven to be one of the most effective types of therapy for all couples. It is designed to help troubled marriages or to make a healthy relationship even stronger. Sessions are based on the Sound Relationship House Theory, which explores nine components that must be present for a healthy, thriving partnership. The Gottman Referral Network is a resource that can help you locate a couples therapist trained in Gottman Method Couples Therapy.
What are the different theoretical approaches to couples therapy?
What is the difference between Gottman and EFT?
Is the Gottman Method worth it?
What makes good couples counseling?
What is the most used form of couples counseling?
What is the general success rate of couples counseling or therapy in the United States?
How can you distinguish couples counseling from couples therapy?
How many sessions until couples see results from therapy?
What are some couples counseling or therapy methods that have shown not to work?
- Previous Article
- Next Article