There are several opinions about couple’s counseling. There are a few experts who opine that the rate of success of couple’s counseling is much below the expected levels. The problem is that a number of couples get misguided by the opinions of these experts and so, their despair worsens.
The opinion of these experts may be right in the case of couples who wait till their relationship become too strained to repair. Even if they opt for couple’s counseling, it may be very late because one of the partners or both of them may have opted for or decided in favor of separation. Another real problem may be that if the therapists have to be successful, they should possess various types of skills. But the general opinion of a number of couple’s counseling therapists is that this therapy can get demonstrably positive results.
Principles that influence the success of couple’s counseling
Focus on changing how the relationship is viewed
The couple’s counseling therapist should help the partners view the relationship between them more objectively. The first step is to make them put a stop to the “blame-game.” Both the husband and the wife should view every context of their relationship separately. This means that the therapist should educate the couples to view situations separately. To quote an example, in the case of couples who have been struggling financially, they may face different types of stresses than those who do not have such financial struggles. The therapist should collect as much data as possible about the interactions that take place between the husband and the wife. The therapist can identify the factors that trigger the behavior of the partners with the help of such data. There may many types of approaches for changing wrong interactions and these approaches may include behavioral as well as insight-oriented approaches. But the focus should be on changing the views of the partners on the relationship so that they can look at the interactions with a more adaptive perspective.
Modifying dysfunctional behavior
In this principle, the focus is on the changing the way partners behave in various situations. The aim should be to make them avoid actions that may cause harms including physical, economical and psychological harm. This means the therapist should find out if there are any such risks. In certain cases, one of the partners may have to be inducted into a domestic-violence shelter. If there is drug abuse problem, the therapist may have to recommend specialized treatment for that problem also. If the risks involved in the relationship are not serious, the therapist may suggest “time-out” procedures for preventing conflict escalation.
Decreasing risk of emotional avoidance
Couple’s counseling experts have found out that those couples who avoid expressing their emotions or private feelings subject themselves to greater risks. They become not only emotionally distant but may grow apart also. The therapist should aim to change the relationship into an attachment-based one so that partners can express their feelings and needs without fear. In short, partners should feel secure while expressing their needs and feelings. Experts opine that only those who had a number of unmet needs and who did not have a “reinforced’ environment during their childhood may have fears in expressing their feelings to their partners. Therapists should help these couples express their feelings without fear. If this is achieved, the partners may become close.
If partners are able to communicate freely with each other, they will have a good intimacy. But communication should not turn out to be abusive and partners should not ridicule one another. Therapists should educate the couples suitably so that they change the way they communicate and speak. Communication should be supportive and should improve understanding. Partners should be helped to differentiate between the ways of communication that can be more effective and those that cause conflicts. They should also learn to empathize with each other. In the case of couples who have a prolonged history of ridicule and mutual criticism, therapists should adopt a suitable approach.
Promoting strengths of the relationship
Resilience alone will strengthen relationships and so, therapists should aim to build resilience in partners. They should focus only on problem areas but while doing so, they should not commit the mistake of ignoring other areas where the partners have effective relationship and functioning. The aim is that couples should enjoy relationship with each other. Both the partners should do things that please the other partner. Couples should find those things that will please their partners and try to do them.
In short, couples who have troubled relationships need not despair because if they seek the help of a competent couple’s counseling expert who uses these principles for educating them, they can rectify the situation and fix the relationship.