8 Tips to an Effective and Successful Couple’s Therapy
Ever wondered why couple’s therapy does not work for every couple? Marriage/ Couple’s therapy involves strategies and methods to develop healthy relationship patterns, that have been well researched and studied for many years. It is a systematic and scientific approach to improve communication, build trust, develop rituals of connection and sustaining a friendship while making sure that the romance is intact.
Therapy focuses on helping the couple build a supportive and peaceful environment where each individual can experience love, respect, comfort and can grow together as an individual, towards a shared goal.
However, most couples come to couple’s/marriage therapy or either a quick repair for the relationship problems or to ‘fix’ their respective partner or even to get a reconfirmation to the fact that they have made up their mind that ‘things are not working. These unhelpful attitudes inevitably lead the relationship to a dead end, as neither of the partners is willing to put in the work that is needed to make the relationship work.
In order to ensure that couple’s therapy is effective for you and to make sure that you have given it a fair chance, here are some tips to follow while you are on this journey of self-reflection and learning, that leads to a healthy relationship.
Communicate Your Needs
Poor communication always creates misunderstandings and eventually conflicts. It is not productive to come to couple’s therapy and expect the therapist to ‘read your mind’ and ‘change your partner’. It is important to state your needs clearly so that it can incorporated in the treatment plan.
One of the main principles of effective couple’s therapies is to help the couple to communicate positively and more effectively. Therapists may provide didactic instruction to understand what types of communication are effective and what types of communication they should avoid that result in conflicts.
Focus on Your Own Flaws
It is impossible to change anyone if they do not wish to change. Keeping this in mind, we must come to couple’s therapy knowing that the only person we are in control of is ourselves. Trying to change or improve our partners tends to make them feel undervalued and criticized which are obstructions that lead to failure obstructions in the therapy process.
Be Open to New Perspectives
Be open to listing and learning. There is a high possibility that over the years when there are constant confits between partners, it tends to create a negative perspective of the each other. The sessions are sometimes designed in a way to help offer a different view point that eventually helps break the conflict cycle that couples tend to get stuck in.
Learn to let go. Holding on to an unhappy past and expecting to move to a content future is a near to impossible task. Bringing in the past during conflicts or conversations leads to enhancing the current problem and increasing the gap between the couple. This is knowing a Negative sentiment override- it is when there is a negative emotion towards your partner in all context, with or without a conflict. Your love for each other has to exceed the fear of letting go of the past. You need to trust your partner will not hurt you again and trust yourself enough to know that you will be OK, no matter what. More importantly, forgiveness is necessary in order to free yourself of the pain being held on to.
Trust the Process
Marriage therapy can be a slow process. It takes time for one to understand, acknowledge and then implement change, especially in the context of relationships, where you also have to incorporate the needs of your partner. Not only do these changes take time, but they also are not linear in their progress. There will be phases when things are going great and times when you feel that you may be starting from scratch. Being mindful of the change while supporting each other eventually gets your relationship to a pattern that works for you. Patience is the Key.
Be Honest to Your Therapist
Be mindful of the fact that not only are you in therapy to help yourself and your relationship, but also the fact that therapy can expensive and time consuming. Your therapist in not a ‘mind-reader’ and sure there are time they know you may not be completely honest, but they will wait for you to open up about it and be comfortable enough to address it in session. This means your will be spending more time than necessary getting to the core concern. Being honest early on will support the progress in sessions and avoid the therapy conversations from running in a circle.
Keep Your End of the Deal- Make an Effort
When you are part of a relationship, be it marriage or companionship, you make a promise to your partner to be present, to be supportive and to do you your best in all situations. Therapy sessions are no different. Be attentive and proactive, take notes, listen to what your partner says, ask questions, states your need and most importantly, do the work that needs to be done between sessions. I always tell my clients that therapy sessions are just a process of mapping and learning the best routes, the actually journey is the one you take between sessions that gets you closer to your goals as a couple.
Therapy isn’t a match between the two partners with the therapist being the referee. In the counselling room everyone is on one team. The agenda in session should always be to learn and improve yourself to be a better person for your partner and your relationship. When you try to pick flaws in your partner, the idea of therapy is no longer to improve the relationship but to win an argument. Keeping the love you have for each other as the center of the focus will help make the marriage therapy process easier, faster and more effective.