What to Expect from Couples Therapy

Getting the Love You Want pic

Getting the Love You Want
Image: imagorelationships.org

Dr. Herb Tannenbaum earned his PhD from New York University and is a member of the National Accreditation Association of Psychoanalysis. One of Dr. Herb Tannenbaum’s specialties is couples therapy, and he is a clinical instructor of Imago relationship therapy and a Workshop Presenter for the “Getting the Love You Want” couples workshop.

Couples who are fighting or having other issues may want to consider couples therapy (also known as couples counseling). However, even people who have tried individual therapy may not realize what couples therapy involves. Knowing the basic procedures and goals can help couples get the most out of it.

The therapist generally starts with some basic questions to get to know the couple and their history and then goes more into their points of contention. Equal voice is given to each individual, and they are both encouraged to be talkative and forthcoming and to listen to one another. Depending on the therapist or the couple’s dynamics, a couple might be seen together or individually.

Effective couples therapy will achieve change in a few different aspects of the relationship. Dysfunctional behavior, such as angry reactions, are modified. Their strengths as individuals and as a couple are promoted to de-emphasize shortcomings and enhance cooperation. Communication is improved. Emotional avoidance is decreased so that couples can confront their underlying fears and other unpleasant feelings that interfere with healthy interactions. Views of the relationship are changed to encourage more constructive conversations.

Achieving any one of these goals can drastically improve the relationship, but it may take some work. By the time they go into therapy, couples generally have been wrestling with their issues an average of six years. It can take months or years of regular sessions to work through them. Goals like improving communication and dysfunctional behavior are difficult for even individuals to achieve, much less couples.

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