To begin, it is important to realize that couples therapy, marriage counseling and marital therapy are all the same. These different names have been used to describe the same process.
Couples therapy is different from individual psychotherapy because a relationship is the focus of attention, instead of one individual diagnosed with a specific psychological problem. Couples therapy focuses on the problems existing in the relationship between two people.
But, these relationship problems always involve individual symptoms and problems, as well as the relationship conflicts. For example, if you are constantly arguing with your spouse, you will probably also be chronically anxious, angry or depressed (or all three). Or, if you have difficulty controlling your temper, you will have more arguments with your partner.
In couples therapy, the therapist will help you and your partner identify the conflict issues within your relationship, and will help you decide what changes are needed in the relationship and in the behavior of each partner, for both of you to feel satisfied with the relationship. These changes may be different ways of interacting within the relationship, or they may be individual changes related to personal psychological problems.
Couples therapy involves learning how to communicate more effectively, and how to listen more closely. Couples must learn how to avoid competing with each other, and need to identify common life goals and how to share responsibilities within their relationship. Sometimes the process is very similar to individual psychotherapy, sometimes it is more like mediation, and sometimes it's educational. The combination of the these three components is what makes it effective. Most couples therapists do not treat sexual problems. For that, one needs to see a sex therapist who specializes in treating couples.
Unhappy in your relationship but your partner won't work on it because he thinks you're the problem? You CAN change your relationship single-handedly! Don't believe it's possible? Watch this video from Michele Weiner-Davis, author of Divorce Busting.
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