Let’s imagine the following scenario based on the experiences of a couple: lately their arguments are frequent, the leisure time as a couple has decreased, the atmosphere at home has become rarefied, they do not know how to reconnect, how to approach the other, sexual relations shine for his absence … One day, after another discussion, one of them says: “What if we go to couples therapy?”
This is just one example of how two people involved in a relationship of this type can come to consider going to therapy. An option that is often considered as a last resort to save the relationship.
At this time the couple may start seeking help without knowing exactly what to expect.they simply want to try something new, something different to help them get out of the situation they are in. But … what to expect from couples therapy? What is the dynamics of the sessions? Why do we usually think that couples therapy is the last resort? Could it be useful for couples who are not thinking of separating? Next, I will answer these questions.
What to expect from couples therapy?
Imagine the relationship as a Lego tower, which the two members of the couple build together. Couples go to therapy for two reasons, to reestablish the bond (remake or fix the tower) or to break the bond (undo the tower). That is, go ahead or leave it. Therapy helps the couple see where they are and define their goals as a couple.
Therapy is an opportunity to rediscover yourself as a couple, but it doesn’t act like a magic wand. Both members will take an active role to achieve those proposed objectives; the psychologist acts as a guide to achieve them.
In therapy, the different areas that affect the couple are explored and evaluated (communication, sexuality, leisure, common goals, lifestyle …). In this way we can see what are the problem areas and what are the strengths of the couple.
Once the evaluation has been carried out and the objectives defined, it is time to work to achieve them. That is, if the relationship were a Lego tower, we first observe what pieces we have, what we want to build, which of the pieces are damaged and need to be repaired, and finally which pieces are missing … did we have those pieces before, or have they always been missing?
What is the dynamics of the sessions?
Three “people” attend therapy, and I’m not talking about the couple and the psychologist. We have both members of the couple and the relationship itself. Therefore, these three “individuals” must have their space in the sessions.
It will work mostly jointly, however, there will be individual sessions for each member of the couple. This does not mean that the psychologist takes the side of one of the parties, the focus is on achieving the couple’s goals, will not be positioned.
Why do we usually think that couples therapy is the last resort?
This usually happens not only in couples therapy, but also when people consult for other reasons. In general, we tend to exhaust all available resources and ideas before going to a professional.
When we talk about couples therapy, the crisis can be an opportunity to show what is causing the Lego tower to shake. Therefore, it is an opportunity to establish different dynamics that provide a solid, secure foundation, a new collaboration that generates a more stable and lasting relationship.
Could it be useful for couples who are not thinking of separating?
If you are building a tower, do you wait for it to crumble to do something? Or are you gradually working on it? The same thing happens with a relationship, it is not necessary to wait until you are about to leave. The ability to communicate, create common goals, manage conflicts, adapt to life changes, among others, are basic tools that every couple can benefit from. We can focus on building the tower in a healthy way, rather than waiting for it to collapse to start over.