What is Couple Therapy?
Couples therapy* is a form of psychotherapy with couples who are involved in a romantic relationship. A Specialist Therapist helps the couple gain insights into their relationship patterns, resolve conflict and improve relationship satisfaction using a variety of specific Active Interventions.
However, beware…the term “Couple Therapist" or "Couple Counsellor” is not protected in the UK. This means generically trained counsellors can advertise themselves as a “Couple Therapist”…. and many do!
Be careful of people who talk about “providing a safe space”, yet without the additional Active Interventions shown through research to be most effective.
Effective Couple Therapy
What Makes Couple Therapy Effective?
A fantastic study by Benson (2012) reviewed 40 (!) years of couple therapy and found the most effective couple therapy included the following 5 Active Interventions:
1. Relationship Problems in a Context - The Therapist encourages and educates clients to view their relationship difficulties within a specific context, identifying causal factors that have resulted in the clients interacting as they do, by gathering data from present day interactions, learning about each clients history and presenting this back to the clients as a working hypothesis.
2. Naming Dysfunctional Behaviour – The Therapist has a balance of assertiveness, empathy and strength to name behaviour and communication styles they see in front of them that may be toxic to a healthy relationship. For example the Gottman Relationship Research Institute are famous for being able to predict with 95% accuracy the long term success of a relationship based simply on the couples use of Contempt, Criticism, Defensiveness and Stonewalling in every day conversation. An effective Couple Therapist will compassionately name these communication styles if they are present.
3. Reducing Emotional Avoidance – The Therapist has the knowledge and skills to identify struggles in Attachment that stem from a client's childhood and how this plays out in a couple relationship; educating partners on how to relate (through body language and words) in reciprocal ways to reduce the negative influence of these Attachment behaviours in the relationship. In other words, identifying the root cause of Emotional Avoidance and through gentle education, creating a framework for the avoidant partner to begin to reveal their most vulnerable thoughts and emotions.
4. Promoting Resilience – The therapist helps identify the resilience that is embedded (yet not always seen) within the relationship, providing practical homework on how the clients can build on these positive areas and change the sometimes stuck narrative of their relationship story.
5. Teaching Psychologically Informed Communication Skills – The Therapist disseminates useful information based on the vast array of psychological knowledge regarding healthy communication and teaches this to clients through role plays, homework and practical exercises.
These Active Interventions should always be provided within a safe psychological space by a warm friendly Therapist. However, the safe space is the starting point...... the foundation; the Active Interventions create the change.
For more information on Couple Therapy please view my Video Blog.
To book an appointment with Debra Lewis, our Specialist Couple Therapist who specialises in providing Active Interventions, please email email@example.com or text 07835 177 251.
*The terms Couple Therapy, Couple Counselling and Relationship Therapy are used interchangeably to represent the same approach
Importance of Active Interventions
This video below for the Gottman Institute an example of an Active Intervention in couple therapy. Its about teaching clients knowledge on how to be different, how to keep their relationship alive...based on research. The video outlines different hidden forms of dysfunctional communication of Contempt, Stonewalling, Criticism and Defensiveness and how relating in these ways can erode a relationship.
The video is provided by the Gottman Research Institute, which researches thousands of couples and has discovered what keeps couples together and what factors break them up.
This is not just theory, its real life facts on how to make relationships work.
An effective therapist will be actively teaching healthy communication skills to their clients... to empower them to create healthy, fulfilling relationships.
Is your Communication Style Healthy?
Effective Couple Therapy is so much more than offering a safe space to talk..
....it’s about providing an active intervention, hypothesising, teaching and disseminating psychological knowledge to empower clients to create healthy, respectful relationships
Debra Lewis – Highly Skilled Couple Therapist
Debra is a highly qualified and experienced Couple Therapist with ten years’ experience in directly helping couples rebuild their relationships. She works using Active Interventions to calm, strengthen and restore balance.
Debra has supported couples in healing their relationships from a range of issues. For example… affairs and other secrets, personal identity, retirement adjustment, physical or mental ill health, prejudice or lack of understanding, communication difficulties such as rows or not talking, disagreements over money/sex/children.
She provides appointments on Monday and Tuesday afternoons and evenings.
To find out more please email firstname.lastname@example.org or text 07835 177 251.