Couples Therapy Techniques That Really Work
Updated March 17, 2020
Reviewer Aaron Horn
There are two types of couples: those who want to tackle everything on their own and those who understand that outside help may be beneficial to their healing process. Those who choose to take the second route are typically still faced with obstacles (such as the initial process of finding their ideal therapist and paying for the sessions) but they have and advocate in the good hands of their chosen counselor. Those in the first category may be able to skip over the difficulty of finding their therapist but will then be forced to take on all of the work that would typically be the therapist's job. They have to become their counselor, and many are heavily underprepared for this job as they have no training, experience, or knowledge regarding what needs to be done. True, there are more than enough online resources, but there is nothing more frustrating than trying out several techniques, only to find that you are making no progress and are not benefitting at all from your efforts.
When it comes to couples therapy, you generally don't want to spend a lot of time and effort on something that isn't going to work. You don't want to try out several experimental methods that leave you confused and don't help you. You want something that's tried and true, and that's why you need to make sure that you only try the couple's therapy techniques that work during your research. If your heart is set on taking on your own couple's therapy, here are some of the top pieces of advice and practices that will allow you to get started on a good program.
Types of Couples Therapy Techniques
Intimacy Exercises for Couples
The first one we'll look at is focused on intimacy and helps you improve the level of intimacy in your relationship as well as the quality of that intimacy. Now, intimacy doesn't just refer to sex. Instead, it refers to anything that you and your partner do to feel close to one another. Sitting in a room together and watching a movie is a type of intimacy. Wanting to talk to your partner about their day is a form of communicative and emotional intimacy as well. By learning new ways to be intimate and to improve the level of intimacy that you have, you're going to benefit your relationship.
The issue for some couples is that they have been in a relationship for so long or have grown so busy and stressed that they no longer seem to have time or affection for each other. When this happens, one or both partners can begin to feel unloved, unappreciated, and unattractive and this resentment and anger can leak into other aspects of the relationship and affect the way that each partner communicates with each other. In order to repair this intimacy, whether inside or outside of the bedroom, exercises such as staring into each other's eyes for a set amount of time, allowing each other to flirt or engage in roleplay, or simply going out on a date and rediscovering each other can help to rebuild this intimacy in the relationship and help couples to reconnect on a physical level. However, it is important to maintain consistency when it comes to intimacy. If you allow yourself to slack, old habits can start up again, and it can be hard to get back into the rhythm of being intimate with your partner once those feelings have slipped away.
Personal Exploration Exercises for Couples
Another option looks at the problems that are happening in your relationship and looks for the causes of them. Are you putting unrealistic expectations on your partner? Are you blaming them for something that they haven't done? Situations in your past can influence your brain, and that can influence the way you interact with your partner and others in romantic relationships. You may not even realize that you're doing it, but you could be hurting the relationship because of those subconscious needs or concerns. What's worse is that, unlike some of the other problems that come up in relationships, it can be hard to cultivate awareness around these issues and to help the person understand their trauma that is leading to the way they are treating their partner.
Sometimes, it is our issues and opinions that are having a negative effect on the relationship, and our partner is playing a very minimal role in the actual issue. When we start a relationship, we tend to lose the personal identity in pursuit of the joint identity as you and your partner's lives begin to blur. However, it is important to have a strong sense of self and deep knowledge of who you are to properly maintain a relationship. Whether it be through researching the large database of personal journaling prompts on the web and making a solid attempt to learn more about who you are, taking some time out each week to spend some alone time doing things you love, or engaging in personal counseling sessions to better heal some trauma you may have dealt with in the past, you must take care of yourself before you can take care of others. If you allow your issues to take the reigns in the relationship, it won't be able to withstand the test of time.
Communication Exercises for Couples
The final one we're going to look at considers your methods of communication. This is essential for any couple because, without proper communication, you can't hope to have a good relationship. You need to be able to relate to one another and discuss the problems that you might have as they occur. If you don't, you could end up with even larger problems or even more problems. By building up your ability to communicate with the help of a professional, you're going to be much happier in your relationship, and you won't need to worry as much when problems come up later, because you'll be better able to communicate about them.
However, there is a difference between effective communication and useless communication. If you are engaging in useless communication, which you are already probably experiencing if you are having trouble within your relationship, one or both parties are criticizing each other and choosing to argue each time a problem comes up, which only builds upon existing issues. Effective communication can only take place when partners are open, honest, and non-judgmental with each other and are actively listening to what their partners have to say rather than coming into each statement defensively. This type of communication can be achieved, but couples will often need to set the space for it. You can easily do this by setting aside certain times throughout the week that you reserve for these conversations specifically.
Another important aspect of proper communication is action. As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words, and while words are important and act as a starting point for a successful relationship, they aren't necessarily effective unless the couple can craft a plan of action after communicating with each other. In any relationship, it is important to make sure that your communication has resulted in compromise and that the compromise is communicated into solid goals that can be acted upon regularly to ensure that both partners are working towards what they want. There are several key factors to great goals, and these factors include making sure that goals are clear, specific, and are something that both partners want to work on as they move forward in the relationship. Secondly, these goals must have a timeframe or, if they are goals that will be something you will always be working towards, they have to be scheduled into your day, week, or month. Finally, if you have managed to meet these requirements, you must also make sure that your goals can be broken down into smaller steps so that you and your partner can track your progress as you begin working on these goals. (Again, this won't apply to goals that don't end. However, you can add a small checkbox on your to-do list to make sure that it always gets done regularly!)
Once a couple learns how to communicate and can turn that communication into action, they are already ahead of the game when it comes to most couples as these are the two hardest things to get down when you are committed to someone. These exercises, while fairly basic, will help to set you up for success in all areas of your life and can be used for as long as you are with your partner. Just make sure that you have the proper motivation and desire to follow through on all of the goals you set or you will face issues that will stem from that lack of drive and the lack of results that are sure to follow suit.
Getting Some Help
If you find that you and your partner are unable to handle the prospect of taking care of your relationship on your own, what you will need to do is find a therapist or other professional who can help you with these situations and make sure that you and your partner are getting the help that you need. A therapist will be able to look at your relationship and determine what it's going to take to get you and your partner to a better place in your relationship. Whichever type of therapy that needs to be used or even if it will require a combination of several different types of therapy, it's going to make your relationship stronger and better prepared for whatever might come in the future.
Regain is one place that you can get the help that you're looking for and the professional that you need. It's an online service that connects you with therapists that can talk to you and your partner wherever and whenever you want. That's because you can connect to them through your computer, tablet, or other internet connected device, meaning that you can sit down for a counseling session right from the comfort of your own home. You never need to set foot in an office again, and this benefit can help you feel more comfortable and allow you and your partner to be more open about what you're going through in your relationship. This helps you both to get what you're looking for out of therapy, but without the need for office calls. If you are looking to take the first step and want to take this step with an online service dedicated to the health of your relationship, start with Regain today!