Different Types of the Couples Therapy: Which One Is Better for You?

Different Types of the Couples Therapy

 Have you ever felt like you and your partner fight a lot lately or your relationship needs maintenance? Does it ever happen to you that your relationship has become boring, unhealthy and you feel like the other person is no more the same person and can’t understand you well? If the answer to these questions is yes, then understand that it is time to rejuvenate your relationship. You can do it on your own or a professional can help you to do so. 

Any time of romantic relationship needs hard work. Saying it feels like a cliché statement now. But, yes! It’s true! Like cars, they require regular maintenance to keep them running well. If there is a problem, it’s better to have it repaired right away to avoid further complications down the road. Maintaining a healthy relationship requires effort, time, and commitment. A relationship doesn’t fix itself. Ego and misunderstandings can impair that bond beyond repair.

Often couples can do some of the basic maintenance and repairs themselves. Other times, couples therapy may be the best for the relationship. This type of relationship counseling is emotionally focused on improving relationship satisfaction and conflict resolution between a couple. The ultimate goal for a counselor is to help build a healthy relationship and solve any issues that may be present. 

Different Types of The Couples Therapy

There are a wide variety of approaches to couples counseling, and choosing the right one for you will ultimately depend on your goals for the relationship. When couples go for therapy for the very first timethey might think, “What will it be like?” or “Will I be antagonized by the therapist or my spouse?” Couples often are skeptical of therapy even working for your relationship. A lot of fears and stigmas that stem from the idea of couples counseling are often put to rest after a couple attends their first therapy session.

Here are some common types of couples therapy –

1) The Gottman Method 

To improve the quality of friendship and the level of intimacy between you and your partner.

The Gottman Method of couples therapy was created by husband-wife Psychologist duo John and Julie Gottman. This method can help couples create a deeper understanding of each other even during times of conflict in a relationship. It is a good approach for committed, long-term couples, who are interested in building trust and continuing married life. This method aims to give couples specific problem-solving skills that enhance the intimacy and friendship between both partners. One of the powers of this method is to work out resentments that couples often build up over time. This emotional cleansing can act as a reset button for the relationship. In this type of therapy, you learn to manage the conflicts, rather than trying to fix each one of them.

In the initial sessions, the therapist gives an extensive assessment form for the couples to fill out to collect the data which approximately takes an hour and a half to fill up. Therapy is carried forward by live workshops, homework, take-home training materials. etc.

2) Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

To change negative thought patterns and behavior within a couple

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), was a therapy originally designed to treat issues such as anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and eating disorders. It revolves around the notion that your thoughts influence your behaviors and thoughts control your feelings and feelings control your actions. If you can understand and change thoughts, you can change how you feel and how you act. This type of therapy involves identifying and changing thought patterns that negatively influence behavior. CBT teaches partners how to restructure unhelpful interpretations of their partner’s actions.

In CBT therapy, therapists will first try to identify how couples think about problems and then help them learn how to change their modes of thinking. Therapists may have patients perform exercises to see how their thoughts influence their daily lives and how they can change. Along with that, if one of the partners is struggling with a mental health disorder or Personality Disorder, it can be very difficult to have a flourishing relationship because there are psychological aspects that need to change to stop the dysfunctional patterns. If you feel as if you are not getting the understanding or support you need to be the best ‘you’, CBT for couples can help you identify some ways of interpreting situations that may be at the root of the problems. 

3) Discernment counselling

A therapy of last resort.

Discernment counseling was developed for the cases of conflicted couples in which one partner wants to save the relationship whereas the other is leaning towards ending it. It’s meant for couples who don’t know if they should split up or stay together. One of the primary goals of discernment counseling is to help the couple discover all of their options to consider before they make the ultimate decision about the fate of their relationship. It can be viewed as a therapy of last resort. 

It’s a brief form of therapy, lasting five sessions or less. This type of therapy is not recommended for couples in which one partner has already made the decision to end the relationship and is only seeking counseling because they want the other partner to accept it. Additionally, discernment counseling is not advised for relationships when domestic violence is present or if both partners are not willing to participate without coercion. 

4) Emotion-focused Couples therapy (EFCT)

One of the most useful and effective therapy

It is one of the most researched and tested types of couples therapy. With this method, the therapist typically has each partner share specific, problematic events in their relationship, and then work with them to identify, explore, and make sense of the underlying emotions that are contributing to those situations. It focuses on improving the attachment and bonding between the couple. EFT aims to provide an understanding of what drives our emotional responses in our relationship.

It is a short-term therapeutic approach, usually between 8 to 20 sessions, that focuses on the emotional needs, negative communication patterns, and the attachment style of the partners. The therapist here helps you understand and change patterns that lead to feelings of disconnection. EFCT has been used to address relationship problems related to Anger, loss of trust, emotional injuries, betrayals in the relationship, etc. It is also helpful to treat couples where one or both partners suffer from depression, addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder, and chronic illness, among other conditions. Research studies have found that a majority of couples that do EFCT show significant improvements that are stable and continue over the long term. 

5) Imago relationship therapy

Unconscious image of familiar love.

The Imago method views a couple’s problems as a result of unmet childhood needs and unhealed wounds that later become their sensitivities, conflicts, or pain points in relationships. Imago means image in Latin. Therapy refers to the unconscious image of love that we developed in childhood. When we are in a relationship, we project that image. And usually, that image is incorporating both the positive and the negative behaviors that we associate with the love we received from our primary caregivers as children. The goal of the therapy is to bring these images into consciousness so that you can identify negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to help you understand the childhood experiences that impact how you behave towards your partner. Imago concentrates on the connection between childhood experiences and adult relationships.

If you go to go to an Imago therapist, you can expect a lot of back and forth talking during sessions and a lot of emphasis on listening. They believe that listening is a skill that can be gained over time.

6) Narrative Therapy

Interaction with others impacts how we experience reality

Narrative therapy is a very specific therapy and the premise behind Narrative therapy is that the stories you and your partner tell yourself shape your decisions and behavior towards one another. It spotlights the stories couples use to make sense of their world. We tell ourselves stories about ourselves and others and those stories guide our behavior and decisions. Problems arise when the stories don’t conform to reality. The couple is guided to create a new and healthier narrative that honors and addresses the needs of each partner while fostering greater intimacy and connection between them in the process.

Narrative therapists try to help couples understand the stories they tell themselves about their relationship and write new stories if needed. It is typically helpful when both people feel they’re to blame for the demise of a relationship. It can be a great form of therapy when each partner has the mindset that they’re a failure, and thus, they deserve a failing relationship.

7) Solution-focused therapy

Specific therapy for your specific problems

Solution-focused therapy is the best for couples who are exclusively looking to resolve a specific problem, as opposed to those experiencing a wider range of conflicts. In this type, couples come to therapy with a well-defined problem and they work with the therapist to solve it. If there are wide-reaching problems in the relationship, it might not be ideal therapy. 

The approach is helpful when working towards a short-term relationship goal. It helps couples create a solution to relationship issues they’re having instead of sitting in the same place and dwelling on the same problems.

8) Reflective listening

The key to healthy relationships

Reflective listening is a type of therapy that can be beneficial for partners who want to work on their communication skills. By being in a healthy, safe environment where each person takes a turn being an active listener, allowing the other partner to speak freely, communication can be enhanced greatly. When we rephrase our statements using “I” instead of “you”, a more productive conversation can take place. For example, rather than saying “you hurt my feelings when you’re late,” you could express your feelings more productively by saying something more along the lines of “I feel hurt when you are late.” Reflective listening is a skill that needs to be practiced, it doesn’t come naturally 

9) Integrative Behaviour Couple Therapy

All you need is acceptance and change

Integrative Behavioral Couple Therapy (IBCT) is a relatively new approach to couple therapy. It is an approach that integrates the goals of acceptance and change as positive outcomes for couples in therapy. It has its roots in Behaviour Therapy and thus, the focus of the therapy is the behavior of people in the relationship itself. The therapy proposes that during the early stages of a relationship partners are more accepting and understanding of the differences between them. However, as the relationship progresses couple distress stems from unhelpful and negative ways with which they handle the differences they see in each other. Over a while, couples become less willing to accept and tolerate the differences they see in each other, which often results in conflict and distress in their relationship.

IBCT involves a thorough assessment of the couple’s relationship. The topics covered in the assessment are such as – exploring the history of the relationship, issues that are contributing to the current distress, each partner’s point of view on the distressing issues, and examining their typical argument style. IBCT is focused on providing couples with skills and strategies to make changes to accept and meet each others’ needs, have greater emotional acceptance of the other, and make necessary changes in the conflict areas. 

10) Relational life therapy

Achieve a sense of balance and eliminate the social myths with this therapy

Relational life therapy is a form of therapy that aims to help partners resolve conflicts, develop personal accountability, improve communication, and foster intimacy within their relationship. Couples who’re seeking help from a therapist or counselor to improve their relationship, especially when it has been affected by societal assumptions about the roles of partners, may find this therapy very helpful. 

The therapy aims to achieve a sense of balance and eliminate the social myths that often impact modern relationships and, celebrate the true nature of each partner and the role that partner plays in the couple dynamic. The approach allows for freedom of expression without fear of blame, anger, revenge, or criticism.

Related Blog: Couples Counselling: What to Expect in Your Couples Counselling Session?

If you and your partner are going through tough days and many obstacles in your relationship, couples therapy can help you work on your issues and improve the quality of your relationship. Your therapist can help you express your feelings, discuss issues with your partner, and resolve conflicts. It can help increase understanding, respect, affection, and intimacy between you and your partner, which can help you be happier together.

 A therapist can help you and your partner get to the root of your problems, find new ways of communication, and strengthen your bond with one another. By working together, you and your partner can build a stronger relationship and address the conflict you might have. 

Are you looking for a couples therapist near you? We’re here to help you We at WAITT provide the best couples counseling. Don’t forget to book an appointment with us.

Reach out to us now! Click on the link to book an appointment.


About Author

Sawani Oak – Kale

M.A. in Clinical Psychology, Counselor

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