4 Types of Couples Therapy

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Couples therapy can assist couples in resolving household disagreements, sexual incompatibility, or infidelity. Discover how relationship therapy can promote healthy relationships, as well as advice from relationship expert Esther Perel.


What Is Couples Therapy?

Couples therapy, also known as couples counseling, is a type of therapy in which a romantic partnership participates. Couples therapy assists couples in resolving conflicts, improving communication, and strengthening their relationship. Therapy can be a great way to help partners who are about to end their relationship. In general, couples therapy is a short-term skill-building exercise that can lead to long-term positive change in a relationship.

Couples therapy and marriage counseling are similar, but the latter focuses on current relationship issues rather than identifying past behavior patterns. According to the American Association of Marriage and Family, couples therapy benefited more than 97% of surveyed couples.


How Does Couples Therapy Work?

Couples in couples therapy typically meet with a licensed counselor once a week. A therapist can mediate between the couple as they express their issues and concerns, as well as provide feedback based on their interactions. A therapist can also provide techniques and advice on how to resolve relationship distress and improve the couple's relationship dynamics. Couples may benefit from family or individual therapy in addition to couples therapy in some cases.


4 Types of Couples Therapy

Couples therapy can be an excellent way to strengthen the bond between domestic partners or anyone in a romantic relationship. Consider the various kinds of couples therapy:

1. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): This treatment identifies and works to change negative behavioral and thought patterns. As a result, it assists people in developing problem-solving skills.

2. Emotionally focused therapy (EFT): This psychotherapy approach strengthens the couple's attachment bond by reducing feelings of detachment and anger, allowing the couple to move in a more positive and healthy direction.

3. Gottman Method: The Gottman Method, named after psychologist John Gottman, focuses on encouraging positive interactions between couples so that they can develop feelings of closeness and affection. This method can assist couples in overcoming conflict.

4. Premarital counseling: Premarital counseling programs help couples discuss important issues in order to lay the groundwork for a healthy marriage. Couples may not have lived together prior to their wedding day, have not fully explored their sex life, or have never had another type of long-term commitment. In these cases, premarital therapy provides a safe space for couples to discuss their concerns and issues.


4 Couples Therapy Techniques

Relationship counseling can assist couples in empathizing with one another and understanding the underlying cause of their conflict. Consider the following relationship expert Esther Perel's techniques and tips for better communication and conflict resolution:

1. Build empathy: Therapists can help couples put themselves in each other's shoes to see issues from their partner's perspective. This can help individuals cultivate compassion and empathy, as well as approach dialogue in a healthy manner. "When we get too caught up in thinking about ourselves, it can sometimes interfere with our ability to think about and understand others," Esther says. "Empathy is exactly that; it is the ability to put ourselves in the shoes of another."

2. Identify issues: A marriage and family therapist (LMFT) can assist the couple in identifying patterns in their disagreements. Therapists can also identify the root causes of the couple's conflict, whether it's an emotional problem, a communication problem, or a physical problem, such as substance abuse. Esther believes that dealing with conflict early on is critical. "Conflict is basically an ascending curve that starts with discord, disagreement, or a challenge and ends with an explosion," she says.

3. Improve self-awareness: The therapist can assist a couple in better understanding themselves and their partners by delving into their pasts. Both partners in a relationship need to be self-aware. "What is the significance of self-awareness in relational life? It's so obvious that defining it can be difficult at times. "Self-awareness entails... the idea that you can look at yourself and how you act and react in relationships, how you communicate in a relationship, and how you show up," Esther explains. "That sense of self-awareness is also what gives you the ability to look at others and understand them."

4. Name emotions: Therapy can assist couples in identifying the feelings at the heart of their conflict, such as one partner feeling taken for granted by the other or another feeling disconnected from the relationship. To recognize your partner's emotions, you must listen. "If someone is pissed, sad, angry, or hurt, they probably have a reason," Esther says. "There is no need for us to do anything about this. They exist, they will pass through, and they will emerge on the other side.


What to Expect From Couples Therapy

Following the selection of a therapist, couples meet for weekly sessions with the therapist, either virtually or in person. A couples therapist will begin the first session by interviewing the individual partners and asking them questions about themselves, their cultural background, personal values, and the history of the relationship. The therapist will use the first session to work with the couple to identify relationship issues and develop a treatment plan, including the number of therapy sessions the couple will need. They will also work with the couple to establish goals for the couples therapy sessions.

The counselor will work with the couple to address their issues over a series of weekly sessions recommended by the therapist. The therapist can provide feedback on the couple's relationship, conflict resolution techniques, and ways to strengthen the couple's bond. They can also give the couple homework to help them work on their interactions at home. If one of the partners has more serious issues, such as substance abuse, the therapist can recommend specialized treatment.


5 Benefits of Couples Therapy

Many couples can benefit from couples therapy to strengthen their relationship. Consider the following couples therapy benefits and takeaways:

1. Develops skills: After a set number of sessions with the counselor, the couple will have learned new skills for better communicating with each other, having a better relationship mindset, and resolving disagreements.

2. Provides answers: Couples therapy can explain why partners disagree and why each person acts in ways that may irritate their partner.

3. Improves satisfaction: Couples who attend couples therapy report higher levels of happiness and relationship satisfaction. Individual partners' mental health can benefit from couples therapy.

4. Saves time: Couples frequently argue about the same topics in different contexts. Couples therapy gives couples the tools they need to communicate and resolve conflicts quickly and peacefully before they escalate into bigger problems.

5. Strengthens relationships: Couples who attend couple's therapy tend to leave with a stronger bond, more empathy and understanding for their partners, improved interactions, and a more positive outlook on their relationship.

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