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Sometimes you're not in the mood, but if you're constantly feeling irritable and struggling to make a change, you may need more help. Here we look at how to move forward.

What is irritation?

Irritation is a common human emotion that can occur in a variety of situations and affects people in many different ways. It is an emotional response often triggered by frustration, stress, or the feeling of being overwhelmed by circumstances or other people’s behaviour.

While irritation itself is a natural and sometimes unavoidable part of the human condition, the way we manage and respond to these feelings is crucial to our emotional well-being and our relationships with others. Irritation can vary in intensity from mild discomfort to intense anger, and understanding its causes and effects can help us develop strategies to manage these emotions more constructively.

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By learning to identify what triggers our irritation and developing healthy ways to express and process these feelings, we can reduce its negative impact on our lives and improve our overall well-being and relationships.

What causes irritation?

Irritation can be caused by a range of factors, including high levels of stress or physical fatigue that reduce patience, unmet expectations from different situations or people, and communication problems that lead to misunderstandings. Differences in values, behaviours or personalities can also cause irritation, as well as feelings of powerlessness in situations where one cannot influence the outcome.

Physical discomfort or chronic pain, problems such as anxiety or depression, and environmental factors such as noise or extreme weather contribute to increased irritability. Hormonal changes, such as those that occur during pregnancy or the menstrual cycle, and lack of sleep also have a significant impact on mood and can make a person more prone to feeling irritable. Understanding these triggers is the key to managing irritation more effectively.


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How can irritation be managed?

Managing anger towards a partner or child requires openly communicating the reasons for the anger in a non-accusatory way and taking breaks to calm down when necessary. Focussing on solutions and adjusting any unrealistic expectations can help improve the situation.

For children, it is important to try to understand their perspective, set clear boundaries, use positive reinforcement, set aside time to talk about their feelings, and model healthy behaviours to deal with frustration. Self-care also plays a key role in reducing irritation levels. By actively working on these strategies, irritation can be managed in a constructive way that strengthens relationships rather than damaging them, recognizing that irritation is a natural part of human relationships.

What is couples therapy?

Couples therapy is psychotherapy that helps couples resolve conflicts, improve communication and strengthen their relationship. It is suitable for couples in all relationship types and focuses on addressing issues that affect the health of the relationship. In therapy, the couple works with the therapist to understand the core issues, improve communication, manage disagreements and strengthen their relationship.

This involves exploring the history of the relationship, improving the expression of thoughts and feelings, addressing specific problems such as finances or parenting, and developing conflict management strategies. Couples therapy is valuable during crises like infidelity or major changes, and the goal is to help the couple understand what is best for them, whether that means staying together or separating in a healthy way.

A study conducted by the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) found that 71% of women and 62% of men who went to couples counselling were satisfied with the type of counselling they received. The study also found that over 80% of participants would recommend counselling to others.


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The therapist acts as a neutral, supportive and objective party who helps the couple navigate through their problems without taking sides or placing blame. Seeking couples therapy can be a powerful step towards revitalizing a relationship and building a stronger, more fulfilling future together.

Treatment for relationship problems

Couples therapy begins with initial sessions where the therapist gets to know the couple and their challenges, followed by setting joint goals to improve the relationship, such as better communication or conflict management. The work phase focuses on developing communication skills, resolving conflicts, working through emotional issues and introducing positive behavioural changes, with active input from both partners. The process ends with an evaluation and a plan to maintain and improve the relationship further. The therapist’s role is to guide and support the couple through this process, where the couple’s involvement is crucial for success. Couple therapy aims to provide insights and tools for a stronger and more satisfying relationship.

Different methods of couple therapy

There are several different approaches to couple therapy, each with their own theoretical basis and techniques to help couples improve their relationship. Here are two evidence-based approaches that are commonly used in couple therapy:

1. integrative behavioural therapy for couples (IBCT)

IBCT aims to help couples accept the irreconcilable differences between them and work on increasing closeness and understanding by improving emotional acceptance and empathic communication. The method combines behavioral changes with acceptance strategies. It is an evidence-based approach, meaning that it has been shown to produce good results in research and is a further development of cognitive behavioural therapy for couples.

2. emotionally focused therapy (EFT)

EFT is a method that focuses on strengthening the emotional bond between partners by exploring the emotional responses that underlie the couple’s interaction patterns. The therapy helps couples identify and express their underlying emotional needs and learn to meet each other’s needs in a more satisfying way. EFT is an evidence-based approach that has been shown to produce good results in research.

Each method has its own strengths and may be more or less appropriate depending on the couple’s specific situation and needs. There are also other methods such as the Gottman Method, other couple therapies and literature that can be helpful in learning more about relationships. Many couple therapists use a combination of these methods to best address the couple’s unique challenges.


12 common questions and answers about anger

What is irritation?

Irritation is a common human emotion that can occur in a variety of situations and affects people in many different ways. It is an emotional response often triggered by frustration, stress, or the feeling of being overwhelmed by circumstances or other people’s behaviour.

What causes irritation?

Irritation can be caused by various factors, including high levels of stress or physical fatigue, unmet expectations and communication problems leading to misunderstandings. Differences in values, behaviors or personalities can also create irritation, as can feelings of powerlessness.

How can irritation be managed?

Managing requires openly communicating the reasons for the irritation in a non-accusatory way and taking breaks when necessary. Focussing on solutions and adjusting expectations can help improve the situation. For children, it is important to try to understand their perspective, set clear boundaries, use positive reinforcement, set aside time to talk about their feelings, and model healthy behaviours to deal with frustration. If necessary, more help can be sought in therapy.

I feel irritated with my partner all the time, what should I do?

Communication about needs, focusing on solutions and expectations is important. If necessary, you can also go to couples’ therapy if there are patterns that are difficult to break on your own.

What is couples therapy?

Couples therapy is a form of psychotherapy that aims to help couples understand and resolve conflicts, improve their relationship and communication, and strengthen the closeness of the relationship.

How does treatment for relationship problems work?

Treatment often starts with an assessment phase to identify problems and patterns. This is followed by an active treatment phase where work on tools and strategies to change patterns is central. Finally, there is a closing phase where the treatment is summarized for further work after the therapy.

What is IBCT?

IBCT (Integrative Behavioural Couple Therapy) is an evidence-based therapy that aims to help couples accept their differences and work on increasing closeness and understanding by improving emotional acceptance and empathic communication. It combines behavioural changes with acceptance strategies.

What is EFT?

EFT (Emotionally focussed therapy) is an evidence-based therapy that focusses on building and strengthening the emotional bond between couples by exploring and reshaping the negative patterns of interaction that contribute to conflict and distance in the relationship.

Can we do couples therapy online?

It is possible to do couple therapy via video, at Lavendla we have several psychologists and therapists who work digitally.

I feel annoyed with my children, what can I do about it?

If you feel annoyed with your children, it is important to try to understand their perspective, set clear boundaries, use positive reinforcement, set aside time to talk about their feelings, and model healthy behaviours to deal with frustration. If necessary, more help can be sought in therapy.

My partner has mental health problems, can we go to couples therapy?

If you have problems with depression or other mental health issues such as addiction, it is important to seek help for this separately from couple therapy. These problems often need to be addressed before or at the same time as couple therapy to get a good result.

Where can I seek help?

If you want to go to therapy, we recommend that you contact a licensed psychologist or therapist who works with couples. You can book a first appointment with one of our therapists here at Lavendla. We make the difficult easier.

Treatment for relationship problems with Integrative Behavioural Couples Therapy (IBCT)

Integrative behavioural couple therapy (IBCT) is an evidence-based form of couple therapy that aims to help couples improve their relationship by accepting each other and increasing the couple’s emotional closeness. IBCT combines traditional behavioral therapy techniques with a focus on both change and acceptance. Here is how a treatment with IBCT usually works:

Initial phase

  • Assessment: Treatment begins with a thorough assessment of the couple’s relationship, including their current problems, relationship history, and each party’s perspectives and experiences.
  • Feedback session: The therapist provides feedback based on the initial assessment. This phase often includes discussions about the couple’s strengths as well as areas that need development.

Work phase

  • Focus on acceptance: IBCT emphasizes the importance of accepting unbridgeable differences between partners. The therapist works with the couple to help them understand and empathically accept each other’s needs, desires, and patterns of behaviour that cannot be easily changed.
  • Emotional closeness: By encouraging openness and communication, the therapist helps the couple increase their emotional closeness and understanding of each other.
  • Behaviour change: Although the focus is on acceptance, IBCT also includes strategies for behaviour change. This may involve developing new communication skills, solving problems, and working on improving daily interactions.

Closure

  • Evaluation of progress: The therapist and the couple together evaluate the progress made during therapy and discuss any future steps or continued support.

IBCT focuses on helping couples develop a deeper understanding and acceptance of each other, which can lead to a more satisfying and sustainable relationship. By balancing acceptance with active change efforts, IBCT aims to reduce conflict, increase closeness and strengthen the emotional bond between partners.

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Written by melissa

Melissa is a Certified Kinesiologist who focusses on a client-centred, holistic and integrative approach to health and wellness. She has extensive experience in managing stress, anxiety, fears, phobias and trauma in her clients. Melissa uses visual and auditory feedback to directly access and solve the cause of psychological stressors in the body so that optimal well-being and balance is achieved.