Marriage Counseling, or Couples Therapy is sought out for many different reasons. Sometimes it is at the beginning of a relationship to help build a healthy foundation, sometimes a traumatic event triggers a rift that requires assistance to repair, and sometimes communication fails leading to frequent conflict and fighting. Relationships do not need to be in distress or on the brink of failing to need counseling. Sometimes marital counseling can be used to “tune up” a relationships, by improving communication and intimacy.
There are a number of theories and techniques utilized to approach Marital Therapy, and are determined either by the therapist’s style or the issue presented. In most, the goals are to reduce distress and conflict as quickly as possible and to rebuild the positive aspects of the relationship that lead to satisfaction.
What Happens in Couples Therapy?
In some sessions the goal may be to process difficult experiences and find resolution to them with the assistance of a non-biased mediator, or the therapist. In others the approach may be more skills based and focus on generating changes in the relationship, such as improved communication, more time spent together, changes in balancing responsibilities to build support. Ultimately, the process will focus on improving the relationship and healing from past hurts, while building a new healthy foundation for the future.
Common Issues Addressed in Marriage Therapy:
- Communication Problems
- Intimacy Issues
- Family Conflict Management
- Parenting Support
- Resolving Separation
- Trust Issues
- Anger Management
The Relationship Between Individual Therapy and Marital Therapy:
Sometimes mental health issues are present in one or both members of the couple. This can trigger issues that cause conflict or discord in the marriage or conflict in the marriage can triggers symptoms of an already present mental illness. In these cases, it is also important to address those issues in individual therapy, to help cope with them and assist couples counseling in being the most effective. In most cases, this is done by a separate counselor, but at times can be done in a few individual sessions with the therapist doing the couples work. The goal of individual therapy would not be to direct the couples counseling or sway opinions, but may in some cases assist the individual in being able to express themselves in marriage sessions. In any case, the goal is to work as a team as practitioner and client, in order to assist in meeting the mental health needs of the individual and repairing and improving the strength and quality of the relationship between the couple.