I practice Emotionally Focused Couple’s Therapy – the best type of couple’s therapy out there, in my opinion. EFT Couple’s or marriage counseling helps create a more secure bond in your relationship. If you have ever tried another type of couple’s therapy, you will notice the difference in this one. If you have never gone to couples’ counseling, how do you know if you need it or not?
Are you feeling anxious or hopeless about your couples relationship? Wishing you felt more connected to your partner?
Do you feel lonely in your marriage or relationship? You are not alone… things can get better!
Be brave! To enter couple’s therapy (marriage counseling), you need to be ready to be brave, on a regular basis (and believe me, it will pay off). Brave to act with kindness when inside you are feeling neglected or disappointed. Brave to reach for connection, instead of giving into fear. Brave to keep coming in when you aren’t sure it’s helping. You see, when you have been in a cycle of disconnection for a while, it will take a bit to get things going right again. This will take work, and it will be worth it!
When you come see me for couple’s therapy, we start by meeting all together for an assessment of the relationship (past and present) (Session #1). In this meeting, I am not looking for who messed up or who is at fault. I want to hear from you both about what is not working now, but also (and almost more importantly) what drew you together in the first place. I want to hear from you both about what you are seeking in the relationship. Then I will meet with each of you individually (sessions #2 & #3) and then on session #4 we meet all together again. Working toward change may involve experiencing difficult and intense feelings, but I will guide you on being brave and helping you connect in a much better way.
The message of EFT is simple: Forget about learning how to argue better, analyzing your early childhood, making grand romantic gestures, or experimenting with new sexual positions. Instead, recognize and admit that you are emotionally attached to and dependent on your partner in much the same way that a child is on a parent for nurturing, soothing, and protection. EFT focuses on creating and strengthening this emotional bond by identifying and transforming the key moments that foster an adult loving relationship.
EFT is usually a short term (8-20 sessions), structured approach to couples therapy formulated in the 1980’s and has developed alongside the science on adult attachment and bonding to expand our understanding about what is happening in couple relationships and to guide therapists. Research studies find that 70-75% of couples move from distress to recovery and approximately 90% show significant improvements.
The Components of Couples Counseling & Marriage Therapy
Marriage therapy and couples counseling include the following components:
1. Assessment and plan – Ideally, our first meeting is together. I get to learn about your reasons for seeking couple’s counseling and hear about the history of your relationship. Then each person is also seen for individual therapy (usually once each) to get more history and background information. The assessment process is very important and helps me understand you both and helps begin the review the problem(s) and helps me understand how you relate to each other; then we are able to work on the goals and plan for re-establishing stronger positive connections.
2. Discussion – As therapy progresses, we talk about the problems, and identify the basic patterns, cycles, or “relationship dance”, with the goal of deeper understanding and sensitivity to each other’s feelings. Learning to listen without judgment. Working toward compassion and empathy in the relationship.
3. Relationship skill building – Learning how to use the scientifically proven tools that result in successful relationships. These tools can be explained, demonstrated and practiced during the relationship counseling sessions.
4. Problem solving – Resolving conflicts when possible by using the tools described above. Marriage counseling will also help you learn how to manage conflicts that cannot be resolved.
5. Core issues – Identify, clarify, and change the relationship “dance” (repeated patterns and cycles of conflict and distance). At times, there may be underlying, childhood-based experiences, beliefs, feelings, and patterns of behavior which influence our current relationship patterns. The goal in marriage therapy is for couples to understand each other and the dance, have compassion for the underlying needs and feelings, and to support each other with empathy and partnership.
6. Homework – A variety of exercises may be used at home to practice using the tools learned during couples counseling sessions.
7. Follow-up couples therapy sessions – Following completion of the goals of marriage counseling, couples often return for “check-ups” (for example, on a monthly or bi-monthly basis).
The above areas may be covered out of sequence, and some will be emphasized more than others, depending on the needs of the specific couple. Each couple is different, and the number of couples or marriage counseling sessions is determined by each unique couple.