- Couples therapy is a form of psychotherapy where partners work together to solve their problems.
- Couples therapy works by increasing mutual understanding between partners and teaching them to manage conflict better.
- Emotionally focused therapy (EFT) is one of the best-researched methods of couples counseling.
- Getting counseling as a couple can help you deal with the aftermath of infidelity, addiction, sexual dysfunction, and other challenges.
Couples in crisis wait two years on average before seeking professional help. Those two years can be crucial in determining whether a relationship can be saved, so if you and your partner are struggling, don’t wait that long. Find out now how couples therapy works and what to expect from sessions.
What Is Couples Therapy?
Couples therapy is a form of psychotherapy aimed at people in an intimate relationship or marriage. According to the American Psychological Association, this type of counseling “is concerned with problems within and between the individuals that affect the relationship.”
The goal of couples therapy is to solve relationship issues and strengthen the bond between partners. You’ll also learn new ways of communicating and solving conflicts to prevent future crises.
Modern therapists are trained to work with clients regardless of sexual or gender identity. Some are specialized to serve LGBTQ+ communities or people in complex, non-monogamous relationships.
Types of Couples Therapy
If you’re going through a rough patch with your partner, you’re likely not that interested in which method of relationship therapy to choose. You want solutions. And you don’t have to be an expert to choose the best option. A couples therapist will refer you to another kind of help if they feel you might benefit from a different approach.
If you’re new to psychological counseling, choosing a therapist who uses one of the well-researched methods is your best bet. Here are the widely-known approaches to couples therapy.
Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)
This brief intervention is well studied and effective for couples. It’s grounded in attachment theory and can help you build a stronger bond with your partner or spouse.
The Gottman Method
Developed by professor John Gottman and his wife Julie Gottman, this is another evidence-based approach to helping couples solve conflicts and strengthen their relationship.
This method looks at individuals as part of a broader system. It’s especially useful for families or to solve addiction issues in a relationship.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Couples who receive support from a CBT therapist learn how to change their negative thought and behavior patterns. It can be helpful for couples who have a hard time communicating and argue a lot.
How Couples Therapy Can Help?
Usually a couple seeks professional help when their relationship is in crisis. There are certain points in life when you experience more challenges, for example, when you have small children.
Common reasons to see a counselor are:
- One partner discovering the other has been unfaithful
- One or both partners struggling with addiction
- Conflicts over important life values, such as child raising or division of responsibilities
- Frequent conflicts and arguments and growing resentment
- Deciding whether to stay together or split up/divorce
What Happens During a Couples Therapy Session?
The main idea behind couples therapy is for two people to attend sessions together and introduce changes as a team. Your therapist may suggest taking a few sessions separately. He or she may want to get a better feel for what your individual concerns are.
Each counselor has their own way of working, but you can expect to come into the office (or meet online) every week or twice a month. How long the therapy will last depends on the nature of your concerns. Sometimes one or both partners need individual therapy to address issues such as anger management.
Here’s what to expect from couples therapy sessions:
- Talking about yourself. The counselor needs to understand some things about you and your partner, for example, if you had a secure attachment to your parents/caretakers as a child.
- Telling your relationship story. The therapist wants to understand why you ended up together. What values did you share that made you want to build a life as a couple?
- Finding a common goal. You need to find a common goal to work toward. Therapy is not about determining who’s guilty; it’s about learning from mistakes and moving forward.
- Learning to communicate. Most couples need some improvement in the way they talk and listen to one another. Your therapist can teach you techniques to handle conflicts and have constructive arguments.
- Guided exercises. Sometimes it’s easier to notice or learn something by doing it. Your counselor can suggest practices or exercises you can do during sessions or as home assignments.
Does Couples Therapy Help for Sexual Problems?
If you and your partner are growing apart in the bedroom, it may be a sign of deeper issues in your relationship. A couples counselor can help you discuss these matters and understand the underlying causes of intimate challenges.
But if your concern is strictly sexual, for example, your wife complains that sex is painful or you have noticed signs of erectile dysfunction, you might be better off seeing a sex therapist.
Improve Your Relationship With eDrugstore
You may already know that eDrugstore is a reliable online pharmacy with a long tradition. Here, you can safely order medication for your sexual health concerns, such as erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, or a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
But we don’t stop there. In our blog, we invite experts to share tips for couples to strengthen their relationship and improve their sex lives. And if you need health advice, we offer a consultation with a licensed physician free of charge.
Anka Grzywacz is a sexologist, reproductive health expert and Certified Sex Coach™. In her online practice she helps busy women and couples solve their intimate problems.