What happens in a couples therapy session? Find a relationship counsellor or a couple therapist near you in Bangalore.
What is couple therapy?
Couple therapy is a form of psychotherapy where couples are helped to work through their difficulties through becoming aware of unhelpful patterns of thoughts, feelings and behaviors projected onto each other, developing skills to navigate through that and eventually creating healthier ways of relating to each other.
It is but natural for individuals to come into a marriage with expectations. And these expectations may vary depending on their cultural backgrounds. As a possible consequence, causing a mismatch in the same. However, some people make healthy adjustments and create a healthy relationship while for the others it may be extremely difficult to steer through. In this case of the latter, couple therapy must be considered to help create a healthy relationship and put a limit on repetitive painful dynamics. It would definitely require willingness and openness from both partners to be able to achieve the same.
What happens in couple therapy?
Couple therapy starts with an early assessment phase where the journey begins with the therapist understanding what brings them to therapy. Couples experience difficulties in many areas such as; emotional connection, intimacy and sexual intimacy, finances, social interactions, household, children and upbringing etc. Post a brief understanding, the area of concerns is further evaluated by getting separate accounts (this ensures objectivity) from both the people involved to delve deeper and see how each one is thinking and feeling. This sets stage for explicit expression of emotions and expectations in a safe space.
Once the assessment is complete, interventions may vary depending on the concerns presented and the therapist’s evaluation of the goals set collaboratively with the couple. The therapist may also choose to do individual conversations as required to help enhance the relationship. The following may be elements that constitute the intervention process:
- Evaluating unhealthy coping patterns: It isn’t unusual for couples to have conflicts about how the other is dealing with the problem. Some would avoid and withdraw while some get reactive and aggressive. Incompatible or unhealthy coping gives rise to anger and resentment. Although one could assume that this anger and resentment could be the cause for the unhappiness, it is believed that the conflict in itself is not the problem, but the way we perceive it and behave after. However, it can become a problem when it manifests in ways that John Gottman calls as the “Four horseman of the Apocalypse”. The four horseman being:
- Criticism: Refers to generalizing and attacking the partner’s character rather than addressing the situation as is.
- Contempt: This takes the form of insults ending up in disrespecting and disregarding the other person.
- Defensiveness: Can manifest in forms of justifying everything not done with excuses and basically denying responsibility and even gas lighting to an extent.
- Stonewalling: Refers to complete avoidance or passive dealing with the situation at hand.
Evaluation may differ depending on the therapeutic orientation of the practitioner, however once this is determined it helps move further into creating a change agenda to break the impasse.
- Establishing healthy and effective communication: Once the unhealthy coping mechanisms are reflected, skills for better problem solving and conflict resolution are taught in the sessions. And feedback is given as and when required in sessions when observations that are an antithesis to enhance the relationship are made. For example, if one is caught to be criticizing (“You did not throw this away, you are so irresponsible”) the anti-dote to that would be to express the complaint (“I am upset that it wasn’t done”). These communication patters would establish mutual respect between the couple. It paves way to fight fairly.
- Developing insight to take an empathic stance: Therapy creates a safe and reflective environment to understand each other’s points of view. Facilitating conversations around development of insight is one of the most instrumental tasks of therapy. Insight refers to why a person behaves a certain way. This could be a result of different contexts like cultural backgrounds, parental connection and upbringing, early and late childhood experiences, other environmental influences like school, neighborhood, peers and friends etc. This insight may enable a deeper connection and understanding between the couple and help take a more empathic stance.
- Creating realistic rituals and activities: Doing things together is a very crucial element of the health of a relationship. Practicing common interests, developing a hobby together or doing activities together are some examples. Although ‘life’ may cause many obstacles in being able to practice these, being flexible and making necessary changes becomes very important. This is systematically explored in therapy to help the couple cultivate warmth, affection, enjoyment and intimacy.
- Reaching realistic expectations: Russ Harris, speaks about some myths that are troublemakers in relationships. They are:
- The perfect partner
- You complete me
- Love should be easy
- Everlasting love.
Realistically, the above mentioned myths lead to partners having unrealistic expectations and it is not uncommon for people to continue to have the same expectations without modifying it making it increasingly difficult for the other to deliver. This unconscious testing can be exhaustive for both in the relationship. This is reflected in therapy to reach more realistic expectations.
Mode of therapy:
The available modes are:
- Face to face
- A preferred online mode
Please note that what happens in sessions remains the same in both the available modes.
Where to find a couple therapist in Bangalore:
One of the best organizations/institutions for residents of Bengaluru:
-The Center, Indiranagar
2nd Floor, 2983, 12th Main,
Indira Nagar, HAL, 2nd stage,
Bengaluru - 560 008.
+91 80 25209712
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