What is Couple Therapy?
Couple therapy enables you to talk about your difficulties in a calm and thoughtful environment. I think about each partner's role in the relationship. There is no judgement or 'blaming and shaming'. A good couple therapist will always work this way.
There are times when all relationships come under strain. Relationships are complicated and require hard work and compromise. Often, the things that attracted you to your partner, become the things that irritate you the most. Add this to the stress of living and working in the twenty-first century, and it is hardly surprising that good communication gets lost, as couples struggle to balance all their commitments.
There are so many hopes invested in intimate relationships, and so much devastation when things go wrong. Problems that bring couples to therapy include:
- A betrayal of trust or secret, such as an affair, or debt.
- Constant arguing, conflict or undermining each other.
- Stressful situations such as juggling careers and child-care, financial worries or redundancy.
- Depression. This can be extremely difficult for both partners.
- Losses such as infertility, chronic illness, or bereavement.
- Pregnancy, childbirth, the loss of a child, or the 'empty nest syndrome'.
- Issues with step-children, blended families or second marriages.
- Sexual problems, such as difficulties with erection, pain, loss of desire, different libidos, internet porn addiction, or confusion about your sexuality.
- Feeling you are at a different stage in life to your partner.
- A feeling that you are drifting apart and finding it harder to communicate.
- You may be considering separation or divorce.
How do we work together?
Every couple is unique and I tailor the therapy to suit you.
Often, couples get caught up in a destructive dynamic, where they get stuck in a downward spiral of miscommunication, misunderstandings and hurt. Couples can feel trapped in ‘boxes’ and ‘roles’ they cannot get out of. It often seems as if you have been handed a script to play by your partner. It then becomes increasingly hard to be your best self. I aim to untangle these complex threads to reveal what is really going on for each of you.
Often too, partners unknowingly trigger old childhood wounds by threats of rejection and abandonment. This then gets compounded by lack of time to talk and listen. This may lead to hopeless feelings about your relationship. This can be resolved in therapy by having safe ‘ringfenced’ listening time, and identifying what exactly is being reactivated from the past. We can then think about what is going on in the here and now.
To help this process, I always do an in-depth assessment with you both, where I make a family tree of both partner's family backgrounds. I also like to have an individual session with both partners at an early stage, so that I can get a deeper understanding of your own issues, and what you may be bringing to the relationship. After that I work with you both on the issues that brought you to couple therapy, and ways to stop reactivating old wounds by greater understanding of each other, and more effective communication.
~ Henry James
What benefits and changes can you expect from couple therapy?
- Better communication and a greater understanding of your partner.
- Less arguing because you understand what lies behind the anger.
- Less disappointment and hurt.
- A more satisfying sex life (if that is what you want).
- Less 'shaming and blaming' and a more realistic view of the relationship.
- A decrease in emotional avoidance and distancing. You want to be closer.
- A change in dysfunctional behaviour, that perhaps you both share, such as addictions like alcohol. Even fighting can become addictive.
- A realisation of the strengths and benefits of your partnership.
- For couples who are separating - a way forward for both partners with less acrimony and pain.
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