A Quick Guide To Couples Counseling Techniques

By: Mary Elizabeth Dean

Updated March 07, 2021

Medically Reviewed By: Karen Devlin, LPC

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In this article, we're going to go over couples therapy techniques and what they aim to help couples within their relationships.

Communication

Communication is one of the foundational aspects of a marriage or intimate relationship; it's also where the majority of relationship problems stem and these issues can be severe. If communication is not healthy - for example, partners aren't listening to each other - relationship problems can arise. Misunderstandings are a problem in relationships, particularly if one partner isn't bothering to meet the other halfway. Communication can be improved in relationships, and one of the best ways to improve communication is to see a couple's counselor who can give you techniques to help you communicate better, stop misunderstanding each other, and help you to manage misunderstandings more effectively should they arise in the future.

In every relationship, we want to have our emotional needs met. In the early 20th century, Doctors treating children with infectious diseases made a huge discovery. They noticed that the youth who weren't around other human beings died more often. Isolation impacted these children and their health. Out of this discovery came further developments about attachment. The psychological studies about attachment are what we rely on for many things today, including how couples relate to each other.

Babies are born dependent on their mothers. That's when attachment and bonds start developing. There are situations where children don't feel loved by their parents, and that can cause severe emotional damage and impact attachment. These wounds are painful and cause children to have emotional scars that they carry on into adulthood and romantic relationships and attachments.

Many adults struggle with attachment issues, including fear of abandonment. These are some of the problems that come up in couples therapy. But one of the problems that arise in romantic relationships is when one person feels that their needs aren't being met. It's an even more significant issue when both members of the couples feel that their emotional problems aren't being addressed.

When couples fight, and there's a breakdown in communication, there are usually underlying issues surrounding their issues with intimacy or attachment. Thankfully, there are couples therapy techniques that can help you and your partner deal with communication issues and address how to listen to your partner, value what their needs are, and meet them. There's a balance between meeting your partner's needs and having your needs met, and it all starts with communicating what your emotional needs are.


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Couples counseling techniques that help with communication

Imago relationship therapy is a kind of counseling that combines Western psychology with a spiritual practice. Using this couples therapy technique, your therapist will look at the entire situation from a bird's eye view rather than each problem itself. When people are experiencing emotional unrest in a relationship, they'll be angry at one another. It's essential to figure out where these angry feelings come from so that your communication can improve. Using the Imago technique, your counselor helps you understand that each person in the relationship will communicate a different way. It's essential to accept that your partner expresses yourself in their way just as you express yourself in yours.

Imago therapy is highly structured. When the partners are communicating about difficult issues, they feel confident in stating their needs. There are certain principles that both members of the couple understand. One fundamental idea in Imago therapy is that what an individual says is their truth. You cannot tell them that they're wrong, because it's their reality. They deserve to have their viewpoint heard and respected. Both perspectives are real and valid. You might not agree with what your partner says, but that doesn't make it "wrong." It's how they perceive the situation, and it is real to them.

Another concept within Imago therapy is communicating with respect for the other person. You want to avoid three things: shame, blame, and criticism. Your job in the therapy session is to communicate what is real and authentic for you, but you don't have to blame your partner. You do not have to make them feel shameful about what they did, and it's not productive to criticize them. Think about how you want to be treated and treat your partner with the same level of respect.

Unconscious Problems: Finding the cause

Couples therapy techniques sometimes need a bit of background on the unconscious cause of the problem, so it's essential to bring to the surface what's bothering the two people whether they realize it or not. There can be problems in a relationship that one or both members of the couple are unaware of, and that makes it difficult to combat the issues. Maybe, one person was abused during their childhood and that abuse impacts the way that they relate in intimate relationships. It could be that one person struggles with anger and they're not sure where it's coming from or why they're taking it out on the other, or it could be that one of the individuals in a relationship was unfaithful and it caused jealousy for the other. It's vital to get to the root of where your problems come from, and that's where couples therapy can help.

Emotionally-focused couples therapy

Dr. Susan Johnson developed emotionally focused couples' therapy, and it's also helpful for family counseling. It's practiced worldwide. It's a short-term type of treatment, and it's focused on getting to the root emotion that's bothering the members of a relationship. When people get heated, they have an emotional response, and that can happen with your partner. Emotionally focused couples therapy has a 70-75% success rate for relationship recovery between partners. In this form of therapy, your therapist helps you get to the root of your problems. You might not know the source of your feelings, and that's the point of this form of therapy; to uncover the issue underneath. Sometimes it's challenging to figure out what the core issues are because they're not visible, but working in EFT will help you and your partner gain insight into what's causing distress in your relationship. The goal of EFT is to confront these deep-seated issues and face some tough emotions. Your EFT therapist will help you do that.

EFT is a type of couples' therapy that Dr. Johnson developed in the 1980s. It's backed up by the research on attachment theory, and how adults become attached. During the past 15 years, Dr. Johnson has worked on the model of EFT and fine-tuned it by conducting various studies. Not only is EFT used with couples, but it's also highly useful with families as well. The studies indicate that 90% of patients who have engaged in EFT demonstrate significant growth and their symptoms improve.

Promoting intimacy

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A popular goal in couples' therapy is to get closer to your partner. You want to feel close to your partner, and that can be on many levels. One of the most important ways to feel connected to your partner is through emotional intimacy, but it can be scary to open up to someone and be vulnerable. That's why working on these issues in couples therapy can be invaluable. There are exercises you can do to get closer to your partner, and one of the forms of therapy that can help you do that is the Gottman method. The Gottman method has been around for three decades, and it's still going strong. It allows couples to match their partner's joy, their worries, and their hopes for the future. They build what's called Love Maps. And this helps you and your partner get closer together by developing mutual respect and understanding what's important to your significant other. The Gottman Method focuses on emotional intimacy.

The reality is that 50% of marriages end in divorce. Couples are trying to stay together, but these are depressing statistics. It takes a lot to have a healthy marriage, but one of the things that matter is that both members of the couple care about each other. The Gottman method exists to support both couples and families. One of the goals of the Gottman method is to assist couples in learning to be vulnerable and love each other. Part of emotional intimacy is the concept of vulnerability. It's able to open up and show the parts of yourself that you're afraid to share. There are some deep emotions within us, and it can be freeing to share them with your partner.

Online therapy

Every couple will experience conflict in their relationship. It's a normal part of being in a committed relationship. When you're sharing your life with someone, you will clash from time to time. That's why couples therapy can help you. You can see a couple's counselor in your local area or find an excellent one online. Online therapy is an excellent place to gain insight into your partner. And the counselors at ReGain can help you and your partner communicate, become more intimate and develop these skills for being close. You'll also begin to understand what the root causes of your relationship problems are. If you want to help your relationship, consider trying online counseling


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