Couples therapy – what’s it all about?
A lot people write me asking what couples therapy is really all about. Some want to get into therapy while others just want to hear how it is done.
Shit, "something's" missing!
Perhaps you are feeling that "something" is just not as it should be.
Driving home from work, you may feel it in your stomach like a lump, a slight headache or thoughts that might not be spoken aloud.
You rarely have sex and you no longer know how your partner really feels deep down.
It has also been a long time since you spent time together as a couple.
Maybe you are chronically irritated or really just do not care about your partner at this point.
You can feel that "something's" missing.
You may have even tried different things which went very well initially...
But then the same old patterns and routines settled back in.
And it probably seems as though you're the only one who is feeling this way.
Sometimes you think in fact that you might be with the wrong partner.
And then there are the children.
But you and your partner need "something" and you know that if nothing happens soon it will be over.
Honey, do you want to come with me to couples therapy?
Most couples wait a long time between recognizing the need for couples therapy and actually bringing it up.
Sometimes, one partner may have tried to talk to the other partner about therapy for years.
But the partner has refused, postponed it and not thought it was necessary.
Maybe even said: "We should be able to cope", or directly stated: "You'll NEVER make me go".
When an ultimatum is given - "Couples Therapy or I'm out of here", then the partner agrees and wants to fight because NOW the pain is bad enough for that person to do something about it.
There is something to lose.
In most cases though, couples come to my clinic before the crisis is at its peak. They have a shared desire to get address the relationship problems.
And to learn to feel good again.
What are the problems? Really?
The first time I meet with a couple, we do a structured clarification and set objectives.
I need to know specifically what problems the couple experiences, what they want more of and what they want less of.
Then we set a concrete goal.
What should the couple learn from me and in what order of importance?
Look beyond the "symptoms"
If we look beyond the symptoms and look at how the issues are more directly expressed as quarrels, lack of libido, silent treatments, irritation, etc., we often find that problems can be boiled down to a very few specific issues such as communication problems.
In order to go beyond symptoms and directly into the core of the problems and get good and long lasting results, we need to make everything clear and set a goal.
Your dedication, commitment and expectations mean EVERYTHING!
"If you continue to do what you've always done, you continue getting the same results as you always have," says an old proverb.
And it is quite correct.
The more committed you are both in the work, the homework you get and the energy you put into it, the faster and better the results.
Couples who are highly motivated in changing things for the better are often surprised by the results they get after only the first session.
But it is between sessions that the results truly kick in.
You do not save your relationship by going into couples therapy and then go home, cross your fingers and hope for the best.
You save your relationship by knowing which buttons to press and then to tap them.
Again and again.
If you are expecting your partner to change but don't want to change your own behavior, then you will be disappointed.
But if you both have the will to change "what you do", you will experience great improvements faster than you expect.
I only work with couples where both partners have a sincere desire to learn and effect change and have acknowledged that it is a joint effort.
Homework - Yes, damn it!
I'm an "old" school teacher and you WILL get assigned homework between sessions.
My most important job is to teach you, as quickly as possible, how to deal with your own problems and be able to turn things around when you feel your relationship is going down the drain.
I could be so bold as to say that my job is to make myself no longer needed as soon as possible.
It would be all for nothing if you get help in my clinic in solving your relationship problems but are unable to transfer your results to cope with the challenges in your everyday life.
It would be a waste of your money and my time.
I can give you a fish if you are hungry...
Or I can give you a fishing rod and teach you how to use it, evaluate your way of using it, and then send you on a fishing trip by yourself.
How soon can we expect results?
If you are engaged in the process, do your homework and are open to my suggestions and ideas, then you can expect to move forward quickly!
How long do you go to couples therapy?
On average I see couples for 8-12 therapy sessions.
Including the initial clarification session and one to two follow-ups, to keep you on your path.
When do you know that you are ready to quit couples therapy
Each session we establish exactly how things are going with you.
And you will be able to tell through the atmosphere at home, your communication and your desire for sex, that you are moving forward.
You are finished once you have reached the goals we set in the very first clarification session.
Various forms of couples therapy
You should be aware that there are many different ways of doing couples therapy.
My main focus is to give you the tools for you to begin to solve your own problems at home.
Other therapists work in other ways.
The term "couples therapist" is a bit misleading for what I do as most of my work with is about teaching and training for ideal communication.
It often happens that you go into couples therapy and realize that you do not have the right chemistry with the therapist.
That he/she has a different focus than you or that you do not move forward as quickly as you would like, etc.
But do not give up!
You don't stop a project on your house just because you have had an unsatisfactory experience with one single carpenter, right?
How do we find the "right" therapist for us?
Look at the person's website.
Does the couples therapist appeal to you?
Can the couples therapist give you what you want?
How are their methods of couples therapy described or outlined?
Then email or call the therapist and have a chat to see if your gut tells you.
You can also check if anyone in your network can recommend a counselor.
Take good care of you and your love.
Maj Wismann - Clinical sexologist and Relationship Therapist since 2006 - Read about Maj Wismann here <---