Couples' Psychotherapy

When the bond between partners becomes close enough, they become particularly vulnerable to each other. Because of that, partners tend to evoke feelings in each other that go back to the time when they were the most vulnerable, namely to their childhood.

We tend to bring to our partners all the expectations of ourselves and others that we developed as children. If those around us were nurturing, we tend to approach our partners with trust. If our caregivers were belittling, we tend to hear our partners as overly critical. In this situation, one — or both partners can feel unheard and misunderstood. When this happens, people can go into a defence-attack mode.

How do I know if we need Couples' Therapy?

Couples experience conflict inevitably. If the old feelings evoked were of trust and care, the couple will weather challenges well. However, many couples will end up in an impasse if the expectations elicit mistrust, fear, and the war dynamic of attack and defence. Prolonged war can lead to loss of hope, and to bitterness. Couples' Therapy can be helpful in this case.

How does Couples' Therapy work?

In Couples' Therapy, we try to create a safe-enough space to allow for cooling of the emotional temperature and then for the shift from an attack and defence mode, to one of mutual empathy and respect. In this calmer space, the couple can discuss their conflicts or issues and hear each other in a fresh way. Having the experience of being able to resolve conflict while in the presence of the therapist, may create a new expectation for success for the couple, which they can carry over into their day-to-day life.

Is Couples' Therapy the correct choice for us right now?

Many couples at an impasse experience the war dynamic and some power imbalance issues but there is enough flexibility and openness to be able to shift over to a new framework for the relationship.

Others may find that their deep-seated personal issues prevent them from being able to make these needed shifts — and they may decide that they need to do individual work first.

What to expect in Couples' Therapy

Couples' therapy starts with an assessment phase which usually takes four sessions. This consists of an initial 90 minute long couples' session, followed by two individual 60 minute sessions, one for each partner. Finally, there is a 60 minute joint couples' session which includes feedback and decision making about the next steps.

Have questions about Couples' Therapy? Please feel free to contact me.

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