At The Relationship Therapy Center, we wholeheartedly believe in the importance of working with a couples therapy specialist.
Couples therapy is much more than individualized therapy for two; it is an art which requires advanced specialized training, extensive clinical experience, and intuition. It is one of the most difficult forms of therapy to deliver effectively but unfortunately, there is only one class in graduate school that focuses on couples. This results in many well-intentioned, but inexperienced couples therapists either blindly promoting commitment or personally unraveling when conflict or anger enters a room.
Why is Couples Therapy More Challenging?
For starters, there are two people for the therapist to connect and build a rapport with. Two people looking at us for help.
Then, there’s the cool confidence a couples therapist must embody when one or both partners becomes triggered, emotional, angry, or upset. It is our job to stay calm because our clients are looking at us for leadership. In contrast to individual therapy, where the job of the therapist is to stay present, be empathic, and mirror the client, in couples therapy the therapist must be direct, be a leader, and teach both partners what they need to take home with them. It takes a lot of time and experience to build this confidence and earn the trust of both partners in the room. For this reason, advanced training is very important.
Finally, in couples therapy there is also no one formula for success. The steps of what to do are not laid out in front of you. It’s an art to know what intervention to use, and when. One of the most difficult parts of being a couples therapist is dropping the agenda of what needs to “get done” during the session and instead staying completely present and open to whatever each unique couple needs.
What is the Job of a Couples Therapist?
The job of a couples therapist is to create an experience for our clients and to manage the room. It is our job to connect with and provide hope for both partners. It is also our job to bring whatever issues we are seeing into the room and to say whatever needs to be said. To do this effectively, we need the confidence to remove any barrier between what we are thinking and saying.
For example, a couples therapist might think, “This is what I think is happening in their relationship, I hope they see it too”. But a good couples therapist will say directly to their clients, “This is what I see happening in your relationship. Let’s talk about it”. This is the job we are being paid for, and it requires specialized training and experience.
Marriage and Couples Counseling Theories
There are many couples therapy theories out there. None is right or wrong or better than the others, but they are all different. I highly recommend that you do the research to find the right fit for both you and your partner, and put your trust (and money) in the hands of someone who is qualified. Below are brief summaries of four different couples counseling theories.
The Gottman Method is an approach to marriage and couples therapy that focuses on increasing friendship and closeness between partners, removing obstacles to communication, working to resolve conflict in a healthy way, and then building a meaningful life together. The Gottman Method is based on over forty years of research and focuses on teaching partners tools to prepare for life outside of the office. Some of these tools include learning to build love maps, repairing disagreements and hurt feelings, and increasing appreciation and affection in the relationship.
EFT is Emotionally Focused Therapy. It is a humanistic approach to couples therapy that was developed in the 1980s alongside the theory of adult attachment. This approach to couples therapy prioritizes emotion and emotional regulation as the key to individual experiences and the keys to relationships. It also focuses on processing emotions in the moment in order to create new pathways and patterns in the brain.
IMAGO Therapy, although not evidence-based, is a popular method of couples therapy. It focuses on acknowledging your partner and the use of “I” statements. This method theorizes that the thoughts, feelings, and emotions we experience in adulthood, (and in relationships), are based on things we experienced as children. IMAGO therapy uses mirroring, validation, and empathy for connection.
The Ellyn Bader Developmental Model of Couples Therapy emphasizes the role of natural development in relationships. It provides a structure for couples therapists to work within, which includes the theory that over time, change naturally happens within relationships, and that couples go through predictable challenges and opportunities for growth.
You deserve to work with someone with specialized training in couples therapy, a therapist with confidence, clinical experience, and proven results. As owner and founder of The Relationship Therapy Center, I can say with confidence that our therapists are highly qualified. I am a Gottman certified therapist and I closely mentor each of our therapists here on staff. We are here to answer any questions you might have and look forward to meeting you.
Other Services offered at The Relationship Therapy Center in California:
In addition to couples therapy, Our Sacramento area counseling clinics located in Roseville and Fair Oaks, CA are pleased to offer a variety of mental health services. We will discuss the importance of self-care and emotional support to help you cope and to discover ways to find healthy ways of dealing with stress.
Individual therapy can be beneficial, with the right therapist. Our compassionate therapists are trained to walk you through the process and help you find healing and peace. Please contact our therapy office to learn more about the many ways we can help you and your loved ones heal, grow, and love healthy.