Is Couple Therapy Effective?
Every relationship has its own ups and downs and if as a couple you have been long enough, is not strange to hit some bumps on the road. We must admit that one of us is perfect, so we must make efforts to better our relationships, learn to communicate better, let go of bitterness, and control our emotions.
If you are a couple experiencing difficulties, it is important to know when to ask for help and couple therapy is a powerful tool if you look to increase your intimacy, and build trust in your relationship.
Couple therapy gained its popularity in the 1980s and at this time, a wide variety of approaches occurred, but experts say that choosing the right one depends on your relationship’s goals.
Still, many therapists do not usually adhere to one type of approach and may use a mix of practices depending on the couple they are working with.
Some therapists are specialized in a certain type of therapy because they believe it is the best practice and has already proven effective for thousands of couples, but the success of the therapy depends on the engagement itself and the therapist.
However, couple therapy has proven to be effective in 98% of the cases and about 44% of couples went counseling before they got married. (1)
If you have never been to a therapist, or you want to learn more about different kinds of therapies and find which one is perfect for you, it is essential to choose a couple of therapy that will serve a good purpose for you and your partner.
We offer you the most common types of couple therapy to choose which one is the best for you.
8 Most Common And Effective Couple Therapy Techniques You Can Try
1. Cognitive-behavioral therapy
Cognitive-behavioral therapy can be used for individuals and for couples, is backed by extensive research, and has been adopted by many mental health professionals. It was created in the early 20th century and it is based on the idea that thoughts control your emotions and behavior. The therapist will focus on identifying what each of the partners thinks about the conflicts that have brought them to counseling. When examining how the other partner thinks, you will try to better understand their behavior and strive for their partner to change their thoughts for a more positive mindset.
It will help you to better accept the differences and build tolerance and it is about building behavioral skills like communication and problem-solving.
2. Emotion-focused therapy
Emotion-focused therapy is one of the most researched couple therapy, that was developed in the 1980s, by the Canadian psychologists Sue Johnson and Les Greenberg. This therapy provides an understanding of the emotional responses in the relationship and why we do not respond to our partners with pure rationality.
Partners usually share their problematic events and try to find what makes sense of their underlying emotions that contribute to these events.
This therapy promotes the idea that secure emotional attachment is the most important for life–long relationships and views isolation as one of the damaging and traumatizing aspects of the relationship, so the therapy seeks to strengthen attachments and promote empathy. (2)
One systematic review showed that this kind of therapy is an effective treatment. (3)
3. Gottman method
This is a data-driven approach and it is a great method for couples who are interested in building trust and continuing the marriage life. The first thing you need to do is to fill out an extensive assessment form before you meet the therapist. The therapist collects data and it doesn’t stick to traditional routines. It is a flexible method that addresses the negative interactions of your relationship and it strengthens the 3 main aspects:
- Management of conflicts
- Shared meaning
According to psychologist Dr. John Gottman, who has developed this method, it can manage perpetual conflicts including poor communication, sex, emotional distance, or continuous arguments.
4. Religion-Based Counseling
This therapy is called Christian counseling and it is faith-based. It is based on the couple’s faith and values, not on psychology and science.
It contains doses of spirituality and it can be combined with some of the psychological theories, but some Christian counselors are centered on faith when they do their sessions.
If you are a religious person, you may consider this type of counseling, and combine it with the other types of counseling, depending on how much spirituality you like to incorporate into your therapy sessions and marriage itself.
5. Solution-Focused Therapy
This therapy is a problem – specific and it is recommended for people who look to resolve a specific problem, not a variety of conflicts.
The couple should establish goals and create their future designs. Typically there are 8 sessions and it is centered on solutions, not on problems.
The therapy encourages the partners to envision the positive changes in partners they aspire for and from these imagined circumstances, the therapists and the clients concretize the further steps to be taken to achieve the goals together.
6. Narrative therapy
In this therapy, the couple hears and analyzes the stories they tell each other. The stories can be about the person speaking or about others, but the problems appear when they do not correspond to reality.
If stories are negative, they can create self-defeating attitudes and spur bad decisions.
The couples can see how their wring beliefs and themes from life influence the bond with their partners. They are guided to create more positive narratives that appreciate the other partner’s needs and foster intimacy.
7. Discernment counseling
This therapy was developed around 2008 and it is intended for couples in which one partner wants to end the relationship, while the other one wants to save it.
It is a brief form of therapy lasting around 5 sessions and makes people consider all options they have before making the final decision. It is great for a couple who do not know what they want and are stuck in limbo. (4)
8. Imago Relationship Therapy
This therapy is created in the 1980s and it arose from the marital conflict between two therapists, a husband and a wife, Harville Hendrix Ph.D. and Helen LaKelly Hunt Ph.D., who wrote their bestselling book, Getting the Love You Want.
This therapy is concentrated on childhood experiences and their relation to adult relationships.
Imago means image in Latin and can be defined as the unconscious image of love that we developed in our childhood, and we project that image when we are married. In most cases, this image includes all the positive and negative behaviors that we associate with love. When you explore the roots of your behavior, you understand the issues that lay beneath. The therapist focuses on listening and understands that listening is a skill that we can improve over time. (5)
What Is The Success Rate Of Couples Therapy?
Couple counseling is proven to be very effective and it is estimated that around 75% of the couples who sought counseling successfully reduced their distress and improved their relationship.
If you want your counseling to work you need to:
- Maintain a good attitude
- Have honest and open communication with your partner
- Focusing on changing and improving yourself and not your partner
- Willing to take on all the challenges the therapy brings
8 Ways To Fix a Broken Relationship
If you are part of a broken relationship, it means you do not get along with your partner, you do not give each other enough time, do not respect each other, have too many expectations and there is no mutual respect.
There are probably signs that show that your relationship is no longer working and you feel disconnected one from another, you are shut down emotionally.
It is up to you to save your relationship and the therapists are here to help you to assess how the damage is big and what are obstacles to cross and get your relationship back on track.
If you are ready to save your relationship you should know it requires a lot of work and love and patience to succeed and here are some tips on how to do it:
Determine whether your partner wants to save the relationship as well
It always takes two people to mend a relationship and if only one partner wants to mend it, they will never succeed in doing it.
Determine why your relationship is broken
There are many problems that can cause problems and they can linger under the surface for too long, so try determining what makes those big problems.
Share your thoughts with your partner about what bothers you
Inadequate communication is often one of the main reasons for breaking relationships. Always be honest with your partner and tell what bothers you and allow yourself to be vulnerable.
Try to understand your partner’s responses
Try to listen carefully to what your partner says. Careful listening means showing respect. This helps both to figure out what is wrong with their relationship.
Try to see the world through your partner’s eyes
Make a small break in your life and think about why your partner may get upset and how it can be remedied easily.
Forgive your partner
You should accept that no one is perfect, and although forgiveness can be difficult and it takes time to forgive, it can release your anger and pain and this can save your relationship as many others on this planet.
Consider a Couple Counseling Retreat
Couples can spend some time together and be engaged in different activities in a couple retreat that host couple with difficulties. There they can enhance their communication and improve their problem-solving skills and learn how to grow and learn together.
Couples usually seek couple retreats when there is a lack of intimacy or infidelity.
Gottman couples retreat is a small group retreat where you can improve skills to enhance your romantic relationship based on Dr. John Gottman’s research and methodology. (6)
You can also consider a marriage-intensive retreat if you think that you are stuck in your marriage. You can even find a couple of weekend intensives where the counseling occurs during the weekend, with the help of the Gottman Method.