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Thinking about going to couples therapy can raise many questions and thoughts. What will it be like? What will happen in therapy? Is couples therapy helpful? Here we go through different questions that may arise around couple therapy.

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. Seeking couples therapy can be a powerful step towards revitalizing a relationship and building a stronger, more fulfilling future together.

Is couples therapy effective?

Couples therapy has proven to be effective for many couples facing challenges in their relationships. Effectiveness can vary depending on the therapy method used, the couple’s commitment to the therapy process, the therapist’s skills and experience, and the nature of the problems or conflicts in the relationship. Research generally supports the effectiveness of couple therapy, with around 70% of couples experiencing improvements in their relationship after therapy.

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How do you know when it is time to seek couple therapy?

Determining when it’s time to seek couple’s therapy can be based on several signs: If you are experiencing constant communication problems, recurring conflicts without resolution, feel emotionally distant, or have $1 such as post-fidelity, it may be time to consider professional help.

Other indications include difficulty coping with major life changes, problems with sexual intimacy, disagreements over important life decisions, and if thoughts of separation or divorce are becoming more frequent. Seeking couples therapy is a step towards taking care of and improving your relationship, and demonstrates a commitment to working together to resolve problems.

Common questions asked in couples therapy

In couples therapy, questions are used to deepen understanding between partners and explore the dynamics of the relationship. Questions can relate to the current state of the relationship, challenges faced, and what the couple hopes to achieve from therapy. Communication is often the focus, with questions about how the couple handles disagreements and whether there are topics they are avoiding. The therapist may also ask about feelings and needs, how love is expressed, and how conflicts are resolved. Discussions about changes in the relationship over time, wishes for the future, and intimacy and closeness are also key. These questions aim to encourage honesty and reflection, help couples understand each other better, and work towards a stronger relationship.


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How does treatment for relationship problems work?

Couple 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, solving problems and introducing positive behavioral changes, with active input from both partners. There are often exercises to work on between sessions. The process ends with an evaluation and a plan to maintain and improve the relationship going forward. Each session is about 60 minutes and can be weekly if necessary, but often every two or three weeks. The length of a couple’s therapy is customized but is usually around 10 sessions.

What is the therapist’s role in therapy?

The therapist’s role is to guide and support the couple through the process, with the couple’s involvement being crucial to success. The therapist helps the couple to identify patterns and challenges and to work on different strategies to change communication and behaviors to make the relationship more satisfying. They share the floor and allow both parties to communicate openly to find solutions to problems. Couples therapy aims to provide insights and tools for a stronger and more satisfying relationship.

Are there different methods in couples therapy?

There are several different approaches to couple therapy. Here are two evidence-based approaches that are commonly used:

1. integrative behavioral 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 behavioral 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.


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12 common questions and answers about couple therapy

What is couples therapy?

Couple 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.

Is couple therapy effective?

Couples’ therapy has proven to be effective for many couples facing challenges in their relationships, with around 70% of those who attend couples’ therapy experiencing an improved relationship.

How do you know when it’s time to seek couples therapy?

If you are experiencing communication problems, recurring conflicts, emotional distance, stress or have trust issues such as infidelity, it may be time to consider professional help. You may also have intimacy issues or recurring thoughts of separation or divorce.

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 are exercises in couple therapy?

Couples therapy uses various exercises to help couples break patterns and develop a better relationship. These include communication, spending time together, and showing gratitude.

What are common questions in couples therapy?

Questions can relate to the current state of the relationship, challenges faced, and what the couple hopes to achieve from therapy.

Can couples therapy be done online?

It is possible to do online couple’s therapy via video. We have several psychologists and therapists at Lavendla who offer remote therapy.

What is the therapist’s role in therapy?

The therapist leads the process and helps the couple to identify patterns and challenges and to work on different strategies to change communication and behaviors to make the relationship more satisfying.

What is IBCT?

IBCT (Integrative Behavioral Therapy for Couples) is an evidence-based therapy that aims to help couples accept the differences between them and work on increasing closeness and understanding by improving emotional acceptance and empathic communication. It combines behavioral changes with acceptance strategies.

What is EFT?

EFT (Emotionally/emotionally focused therapy) is an evidence-based therapy that focuses 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.

My partner has mental health issues, 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 couples 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 Behavioral Couples Therapy (IBCT)

Integrative behavioral 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 behavior 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.
  • Behavior change: Although the focus is on acceptance, IBCT also includes strategies for behavior 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 Ellen Lindgren

Licensed psychologist

Ellen is a licensed psychologist and has experience mainly in clinical psychology where she has worked with various conditions such as stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia, crises and trauma in primary care and psychiatry. She has also worked with research while studying in the US and with affective disorders and insomnia at Karolinska Institutet, Sweden.