Content and Aim
Misconceptions about what couples therapy is and its purpose can prevent couples from seeking help. Some might think couples therapy is only meant for very serious issues affecting a relationship, including infidelity or addiction. Others may view it as a last-ditch effort before making the decision to end the relationship. Some think of it as a way to force their partner to change because they are “the problem.”
Couples therapy is a type of psychotherapy in which a therapist helps two people involved in a romantic relationship gain insight into their relationship, resolve conflict and improve relationship satisfaction utilizing a variety of therapeutic interventions. Couples therapy will usually begin with some standard interview questions regarding the history of the relationship as well as some exploration into each partner’s family-of-origin, values and cultural background. The couple therapist will then assist the couple in identifying the issue that will be the focus of treatment, establishing treatment goals and planning a structure for treatment.
During the treatment phase, the therapist will help the couple gain insight into the relational dynamics maintaining the problem, while helping both partners understand each of their roles in the dysfunctional interactions. This will help them change the way they perceive the relationship and each other. Although gaining insight is important, another crucial aspect of couple therapy involves actually changing behaviors and ways of interacting with each other.