What is Couples Therapy?
Programs like Imago Therapy, Stan Tatkin’s PACT (A Psychobiological Approach to Couple Therapy), and those developed by John Gottman help couples build and maintain strong, healthy relationships. Couples therapy supports both men and women equally, rediscovers the heart and soul of a couple’s loving relationship, and often works faster than traditional forms of couples work, especially with complex and challenging couples.
How Does Couples Therapy Work?
Couples therapy involves specific communication techniques and skills designed to:
- Increase affection, closeness, and respect
- Increase fondness, admiration, and appreciation for each other
- Focus on conflict management rather than conflict resolution
- Promote calm discussion of problems
- Teach how to manage reactions and emotions
- Develop and reinforce trust and commitment
- Teach different attachment styles to develop deeper understanding between partners
- Improve reactions to partner’s triggers
- Create both a bond and boundaries
- Resolve conflict when at an impasse
Why Do Couples Get Divorced?
In the United States, 40-50% of married couples divorce and up to 10% more remarried couples divorce. The majority of divorces occur in families with children under the age of 18, and the most common factors leading to divorce include lack of commitment, marrying too young, marrying the wrong person, infidelity, communication issues, physical or emotional issues, alcohol or substance abuse, unrealistic assumptions about marriage, and/or financial problems.
The four principal predictors of divorce, identified by researcher and psychologist John Gottman, include:
- Criticism that is outweighed by positive statements
- Contempt and lack of respect
- Defensiveness, which prevents partners from taking responsibility for problems and undermines empathy
- Stonewalling or deliberately avoiding discussions of problems, which makes it impossible to resolve arguments
Is a Good Divorce Possible?
Uncoupling, which can be mentally, physically, and financially demanding, can be therapeutically buffered with gentle guidance and objective, rational perspective which together lend the necessary skills to work through the difficulties of divorce.
Therapy is also important for children who are going through the divorce. Parents are often consumed by their own emotions and challenged by the need to respond to the reactions of their children. Divorce and aggression between parents can be confusing for children, who may also experience guilt, fear, anxiety, depression, and grief. If parents and children are able to discuss their feelings about the divorce and any issues that arise, they may more easily process their emotions and experience a healthier adjustment to changing circumstances.
What is Divorce Recovery?
Divorce recovery is a process that helps newly divorced couples cope with the profound nature of their situation. Stresses of divorce include losing friends or family, feeling emotionally overwhelmed and alone, dealing with affected children, and financial stress. Divorce recovery therapy provides individuals and families with a safe, encouraging, and empowering experience during what can be a very difficult time.
What is Family-Based Therapy?
Family-based therapy has been the most frequently tested therapy to show positive results for family members struggling with the challenges of marital conflict, sibling and parent-child conflict, divorce, mental illness, and a variety of addictions. A focus on restructuring problematic family interaction patterns while developing behavioral approaches and social learning strategies promotes the family’s pro-social behaviors through improved understanding, empathy, and communication skills.
Strategies of family-based therapy include:
- Addressing issues with the mentally ill or substance abusing/addicted family member
- Identifying negative family patterns that contribute to the problem
- Learning how to lend positive support
- Creating a plan to rebuild family relationships
What are Effective Methods for Treating Adolescents?
In the United States today, around 10% of all adolescents suffer from an anxiety disorder, and when adolescents suffer from anxiety, trauma, and other severe stressors, they experience higher risk of alcohol or substance abuse. Studies show there are five primary stressors causing the most worry among adolescents, including parental conflict, schoolwork, romantic relationships, and problems with friends and siblings. Unhealthy coping behaviors due to stressors often include avoidance, aggression, and substance abuse.
Family therapy supports effective and lasting changes for the adolescent and family. The teen and family participate in a “therapeutic reset” that promote developmental achievements that result in eventual independence, good decision-making, and growth into a productive member of society.
How Can I Prepare for Successful Dating?
Dating is simply an opportunity to connect with people, but unrealistic expectations or stress due to fear of rejection can often lead to disappointing results. Mental preparation can help create more positive results. Vital strategies include:
- Approaching dating as if meeting a potential friend
- Keeping expectations to a minimum
- Reminding yourself that you have valuable traits, like good listening and compassion, to offer a potential partner
- Focusing on your positive characteristics like personality, sense of humor, intelligence, musical ability, interests, experience, and skills
- Allowing your inner confidence, friendly smile, and confident posture to show
- Keeping the conversation light but personal