Couples Therapy

What is Couples Therapy

Couples therapy is a process of relationship repair where together we focus on understanding what has worked in the relationship and what the current areas of dissatisfaction or dysfunction are.  We illuminate past patterns for each partner from their family of origin, in order to understand how these patterns are replicated in the present relationship and sabotaging the intimacy and connection that originally drew you together.  In couple’s counselling we focus on the impacts of each partner’s actions on the relationship.  We also look at the impact of ‘thirds’ in the relationship and how as a couple you work together to form agreements about how to manage thirds so that they support and not subvert connection in the coupleship.  Thirds in a relationship are anything that may intrude on the primacy of the coupleship. Some examples of thirds are: work, extended family, addictions, children and or pets, or hobbies. Sexual or romantic relationships outside of the coupleship were monogamy has been an agreement of the relationship also functions as ‘thirds’.

How Does Couples Therapy Help?

Couples therapy helps by clarifying relationship issues, supporting each partner in understanding and regulating their own mental health for the health of the relationship, and creating real-time experiences of relationship repair in order to teach skills and build capacity to repair harms quickly in service of the health of the relationship.  We know that two of the greatest predictors of successful long-term relationships are kindness and the ability to repair relationship harms quickly and cleanly without building up a catalog of resentment that serves no purpose other than to drive a wedge in the experience of intimacy.

When Should You Consider Couples Therapy?

The time to consider couple’s therapy is now because the most likely reason you are reading this is because you know that something is not working in your relationship.  Perhaps you’ve known this for a long time and tried endlessly to fix and improve the relationship but find yourselves continuing to disconnect in the important areas of your relationship.  You may feel at this moment like you are rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic when you desperately want to right the course of the ship!  Or perhaps you are in a relatively new relationship and are facing a decision point; do we commit to continuing this relationship?  There is so much that is good in the relationship but some things are just so difficult that we wonder, can we succeed and be satisfied together?  Or perhaps you have discovered a secret aspect of your partner’s life that has thrown your beliefs about the relationship into turmoil and left you feeling abandoned and insecure.  The time to seek couple’s sessions is now, because you know that it is not working in the way that you hope, want, and need it to.

Is It Ever Too Late To Seek Couples Therapy?

It is never too late to seek couples therapy. The reason that I say that is that it is never too late to improve your relationship with yourself and your partner! You may discover through the process of engaging in couple’s counselling services that the healthiest decision for each of you is to separate and to do that in a way that is adult, empowered, and focused on reducing harm to each of you and to those most affected by your decision. You may also discover that in exploring all of the implications of separating that you will find renewed life energy and hope for a healthier relationship based on conscious choices to act against historical patterns and beliefs about yourself, your partner, and the nature of love.

What Does a Couples Therapy Session Include?

A couple’s session is 75 minutes in length as opposed to an individual session which is 50 minutes in length. The reason for this is that 75 minutes optimizes our ability to do relationship work in real-time which is a greater return on your time and resources than a shorter session. Couples therapy sessions are progressive and are designed to build awareness and relationship skills to experience in real-time in order to build capacity to implement new ways of supporting connection in the relationship between sessions. As the process progresses we will often design experiments in our live video sessions to practice in between sessions. The purpose of experiments is to gather information; they cannot fail. The implementation of relational experiments between sessions supports deeper work in the next session and makes your online therapy more effective!

What Can You Expect From Couples Therapy?

Couple’s therapy offers an opportunity for partners to deepen their understanding of how their historical relational patterns sabotage the connection that they long for and how to act against their individual history with a sense of empowerment, skill, and freedom in order to create a secure, loving relationship.

Who is Couples Therapy For?

Couple’s therapy is for anyone who is wanting to improve their current relationship!  Sometimes it is about going from good to great and sometimes it is about discovering is what is harming the relationship can be repaired to confidently recommit to building a secure relationship that supports the mental health journey of both partners.

What Kind of Counselling Techniques Are Used?

As a couple’s therapist, I take a Nero-biological approach to relationship repair, which is a fancy way of saying that together we pay attention to how the unconscious patterns and wounds of each partner are contributing to the sabotage of the relationship.  In taking this approach our focus is on each individual’s impact on the other and consequently the relationship; no demons, no angels.  In order to support the relationship we begin with an assessment of the historical experience of each partner that informs their relational patterns.  From there we introduce skills to practice in real time in our live video sessions.  The techniques that we use are varied and chosen to best support the relationship where it is now with a view to where you want it to be.  Some of these techniques are: mindful attunement to your inner experience, breathing work, compassionate communication to self and others, how to repair quickly and effectively to protect the relationship from ‘festering wounds’, trauma-informed interventions to support self-regulation and co-regulation, clinical EFT and more.

What Are The Advantages of Online Couples therapy?

Online therapy differs from in-person therapy in that clients: can choose the environment that is most comfortable for them, ie. at home with a loved pet by their side or surrounded by objects and sensory inputs that best support their nervous system, there is no need to travel to therapy sessions which saves time and expense and also allows clients to choose a therapist who is outside of their geographical area giving them greater access to the ‘right fit’ in their therapist of choice and clients have greater flexibility to schedule sessions into their existing commitments.

The most important thing about the comparison of online therapy and video sessions is not what is different but what is similar!  What is similar is that each partner experiences a growing sense of trust and resonance with the therapist and the process so that relationship issues can be resolved safely.