Couples Therapy is an in-depth Psychotherapy process which typically helps couples who have experienced some sort of relationship trauma. It is a longer more intense form of couples counselling. Couples Therapy focusses on communication skills and conflict.
Couples Therapy seeks to understand what each person brings into the relationship – perhaps from their family of origin or past events or traumas. We are all Couples Therapists at the Sydney Couple and Family Specialists and we all have extensive and specific training to work with difficult relationship presentations.
In Couples Therapy we work with the following: –
- Affairs and other betrayals such as pornography, gambling, visiting escorts or brothels,drug addictions and secret lives with other people. These are called relationship ‘betrayals’ if they are discovered by a partner and not what the couple agreed to when they made their commitment to the other.
- Drug or alcohol abuse or addiction by a partner which has had serious impacts on trust and connection.
- Couples who re-unite after a separation and want to create a different and better relationship this time around.
- Older couples who have been leading separate lives and want to understand whether they should separate or continue their marriage or relationship.
- Couples or parents who have experienced a loss of a child, or who have parented a very unwell child over a long period of time. Grief puts relationships under extreme pressure, and couple therapy is often required to support the relationship long term.
- Relationships affected by behaviours such as stonewalling, contempt, criticism and defensiveness. Couples therapy might be needed so each person understands the underlying origins of these behaviours, and the couple knows how to change to make sure their relationship survives.
- Attachment issues in relationships. Couples therapy is useful for people to understand what they bring into the relationship from their own first attachments to primary caregivers and how this plays out in their current relationship – and what to do about it.
- Past types of abuse like sexual abuse or violence which impacts the couple’s ability to be connected and desire each other both on a physical and sexual level.
- Couples therapy is recommended for couples who wish to explore open relationships or polyamorous relationships.
- Significant mental health illnesses which pressure and challenge a marriage or relationship is also best addressed with couples therapy.
Who attends Couples Therapy?
You and your partner will attend the majority of the sessions together. However, in couple therapy, there might also be times where the Couples Therapist asks to see one or both of you without the other. This doesn’t mean the Therapist isengaged in individual therapy with you – the work is still couples therapy. But sometimes it is productive to give each person some privacy to do some of the work.
Does Couple Therapy work?
At Sydney Couple and Family Specialists, 80% of client couples say their relationship significantly improved after just three sessions of Couples Therapy.
Couples who seek therapy with us are typically looking for a stronger connection to each other. Or to heal past relationship resentments, losses or wounds.
It is useful to have a non-judgemental person to facilitate conversations that can be difficult. But importantly, those conversations can also lead to productive, positive communication which in turn generates a greater understanding between the couple. Understanding, forgiveness and behavioural change improve the likelihood that intimacy and connection will also return.
If you are interested in seeing a Couples Therapist, make sure they’ve been trained in Couples Therapy (not everyone who advertises this service has appropriate qualifications, and a poorly-trained therapist can actually make things worse). Qualified Couples Therapists have the skills to ask the right questions and facilitate healing, positive conversations.
Many of our clients tell us that investing in Couples Therapy has been life-changing, and once they have finished their work with us we very rarely need to see them again.
When does Couple Therapy not work?
There are of course times that Couple Therapy does not work and many people wonder about this or are disappointed that the process they have invested in hasn’t resulted in any changes.
This happens for several reasons as follows:
- The Couples Therapist is not trained sufficiently in Couple Therapy. Couple
- Therapy is a specialisation and a lot of Therapists “tag on” Couple Therapy without any professional training not realising the process is significantly different from individual or family work. If a Couples Therapist isn’t skilled to direct the sessions then it is easy for the couple’s problems to actually become worse.
- The Couples Therapist might not have the personality traits that resonate with the couple and therefore the couple feel unsafe or resistant to the process.
- One of the people in the relationship is resistant to the process or doesn’t really want to work on the relationship. Signs of this is when one person doesn’t turn up for sessions or is not actively engaged in the sessions when they attend.
- The couple fail to implement the skills and ideas they have learnt in the sessions into their everyday life. The Couple Therapist relies on the couple following through with implementing changes and working on their relationship between sessions – but this doesn’t always happen.
What happens in a Couples Therapy session?
In the first session at Sydney Couple and Family Specialists, you will meet your Couple Therapist and begin the process of building rapport with them. Because Couple Therapy is typically a longer process (and therefore a bigger investment) than standard couples counselling, it is vital that you feel not only comfortable with your Couples Therapist but also confident that they have the right skills to help with your relationship concerns.
In the first session, your Couples Therapist will ask you a series of questions which are conducted like an interview to ascertain what your goals are and what you would like to work on throughout the process. Near the end of the session, your Couples Therapist will feed back to you their understanding of what you are hoping to get out of the sessions with them. At this point you have the opportunity to either continue with your Couples Therapist, go away to make the decision together, or not continue at all.
Although the work is active in Couple Therapy – it is also reflective and paced so that each person has time to respond to ideas and process information.
How long would we need to be in Couple Therapy?
Couples Therapy is a longer and more intense process than Couples Counselling. Therefore, you would expect to be in Couples Therapy for a minimum of three months. Most people understand they need to settle into a long term process and are committed to the process from one – two years.
As a general rule, the more complex the issues are and the longer that a couple have been in a relationship, the longer the couples therapy process will be.
Why do Couples Therapy at the Sydney Couple and Family Specialists?
Most people say they value their relationship with their loved ones the most in life. And for this reason, you want to ensure that you are seeing the right Couples Therapist – someone who is appropriately trained to do this work with something that is precious to you – your relationship. Couple Therapy is a huge investment both financially and time wise.
All of our Couples Therapists at the Sydney Couple and Family Specialists have had extensive and rigorous training. Each Couples Therapist has been selected by Jacqueline McDiarmid based on not only their qualifications but also personal attributes and potential. Jacqueline McDiarmid is one of Sydney’s most highly regarded Couple and Family Therapists and is highly sought after by Therapists and clients alike – you can read more about her here. Jacqueline McDiarmid also the Director of The Couple and Family Training Centre.
Anybody who approaches the Sydney Couple and Family Specialists for Couples Therapy can be assured they are seeing not only someone highly trained and skilled to do the work – but someone Jacqueline has personally selected – and there are a lot of Therapists that approach Jacqueline to both train with her and work in the practice.
Each Couples Therapist at the Sydney Couple and Family Specialists also undergoes monthly training to ensure they continue to meet the high standards that the Sydney Couple and Family Specialists are recognised for.
If you and your partner would like to commence Couple Therapy but you are unsure who in the practice would be a good fit for you. Please contact 8968 9397 and request a 15 minute phone call with one or more of our Couples Therapists. This way you can get a sense of how they work and if you and your partner would be comfortable investing in the Couple Therapy process with them.