What is couples therapy and what is its objective?

Couples therapy is therapy focused on achieving the well-being of the two partners in a loving relationship. The couple relationship is therefore formed by two people who, at that moment, do not find the relationship they have rewarding or decide that it can be improved in some aspects.

Each couple is unique, created on the basis of the personality of its members and the joint experiences they have with each other. This causes, as the relationship progresses, the establishment of both adaptive and maladaptive behaviors. The first thing we do in Psicoalmeria is to make a proper assessment of the couple that comes to consultation, and once defined the maladaptive behaviors to modify, general and specific objectives will be established to successfully address that relationship.

In general, the objectives of couples therapy include addressing the problem areas present in the relationship, finding solutions adapted to the couple to improve problematic situations and behaviors; improving communication and adequate expression of emotions and feelings; and strengthening the positive aspects that unite the couple.

What are the functions of couples therapy?

Initially, to perform an adequate assessment and functional analysis to identify maladaptive functional behaviors that prevent the relationship from functioning satisfactorily. To establish an adequate rapport or therapeutic alliance with both partners, since without trust in the psychotherapist the objectives cannot be achieved.

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In Psicoalmeria, the psychologists who are part of the center, establish appropriate guidelines for the psychological treatment to be effective, giving security and confidence to the couple who come to our center. Among these guidelines, as psychotherapists we will always be neutral and impartial, not placing ourselves in favor of one of the members. Couples therapy does not consist of looking for culprits, but rather how both partners can improve in order for the relationship to function satisfactorily.

Who is it for? What kind of problems can it address?

This type of therapy is aimed at any couple who are going through a bad time and do not know how to solve it properly and/or couples who want to strengthen their relationship by improving certain areas of their life.

Many problems are addressed. However, the ones that are most frequently requested are:

  • Improving communication.
  • Achieving an adequate expression of emotions and feelings
  • Children’s education
  • Problems with the extended family of a member of the couple.
  • Work on mistrust, jealousy and infidelity and sexual problems.
  • To seek a balance between the different desires, objectives and goals that each partner has in his/her life and sometimes are opposed to those of his/her partner.

What are the main reasons why couples come to therapy?

The main reasons we find are couples who believe they have tried and done everything to make the relationship work, and decide to go to couples therapy as a last resort before separation.

It is important to understand the benefits of couples therapy, because sometimes no matter how much effort we put into making our relationship work, we are not objective with ourselves or with the personal changes we need to make. In general, we always see what others do wrong and the damage they do to us, being that subjective part (the discomfort we feel) more important than what we do incorrectly that increases the discomfort in the relationship.

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A good psychotherapist, like those of Psicoalmeria, will know how to observe and analyze objectively the relationships and maladaptive behaviors that have been established in that couple to address it effectively.

What elements should the therapist pay attention to in this type of therapy?

As a psychotherapist I observe the communication and behaviors that both partners have during the session, paying special attention to the reproaches and demands that are made as it implies the discomfort they feel. On the other hand, individually in interviews with each member of the couple, I pay attention to how each one experiences the problematic situations and what they can do to solve them from the “I”.

In addition, between sessions there are exercises and self-records that are very useful to address in session as they collect situations to be resolved that have occurred between sessions. These are essential elements to be addressed in session, putting into practice the techniques and tools that are being learned during therapy.

Why is it important to have a good disposition and attitude of wanting to improve?

If the disposition and attitude are adequate, the necessary changes will be achieved for the couple’s relationship to be satisfactory. However, sometimes the partners are not at the same point for different reasons: one of the two does not believe that he/she should change and gives the responsibility to his/her partner alone, holds a lot of resentment and does not want to forgive, or feels that he/she is under obligation and does not believe that the relationship will improve.

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When this happens, the psychotherapist must initially approach that unwilling partner, resolving his or her doubts, letting him or her express his or her feelings and finally giving him or her the opportunity to try something different.