Couples therapy is a type of psychotherapy where a therapist with clinical experience working with couples helps two people involved in a romantic relationship gain insight into their relationship, resolve conflict, and improve relationship satisfaction utilizing a variety of therapeutic interventions. The therapist’s theoretical orientation causes the practice of couples therapy to vary, but all couples therapy tends to involve the following general elements:
- A focus on a specific problem (i.e. sexual difficulties, Internet addiction, jealousy)
- Active participation on the part of the therapist in treating the relationship itself, rather than each individual separately.
- Solution-focused, change-oriented interventions early on in treatment.
- A clear establishment of treatment objectives.
Couples’ therapy will usually begin with some standard interview questions regarding the history of the relationship as well as some exploration into each partner’s family-of-origin, values and cultural background. The couples’ therapist assists the couple with identifying the issue that will be the focus of treatment, establishing treatment goals, and planning a structure for treatment.
Couples benefit from this therapy by gaining insight into relational patterns, increasing emotional expression, and developing the skills necessary to communicate and problem-solve with their partners more effectively.
Couples’ therapy can be used to resolve a current problem, prevent an exacerbation of problems, or simply provide a “check-up” for a happy couple that is experiencing a period of transition or increased stress.