Do You Need Couples or Marriage Therapy?
Any relationship has rough spots, but it’s not hard to tell when you need help. This page discusses:
Here’s a partial list of issues. Any one of these situations probably requires couples or marital therapy:
Something is Missing
Urgent Issues and Emergencies*
Some of the issues above require immediate, professional help. Others can build into bigger problems if they’re not addressed in a timely manner.
Many couples who seek my services have difficulty resolving issues. For this reason, I offer communication training and facilitate discussions of issues. But before we can get to these interventions, I've got to establish effective communications with the couple and help them make initial agreements with each other. I may use several techniques to create an atmosphere for more effective communications. These include:
- We start by agreeing that I can interrupt if an argument begins. This includes interrupting interruptions. People bicker when they can't fully air their concerns.
- Having each partner talk to me instead of each other
- Split sessions where I see each partner individually and then meet with both together
- Communication training—includes teaching time-outs, limiting the duration of arguments, etc. Communication techniques act as "training wheels" while the couple improves trust and rapport.
- Research findings and reading suggestions
- Reflecting back the pattern of a couple's arguments (see below)
- Offering feedback and recommendations about differing needs for togetherness and individuality
- Detailed questionnaires that identify issues
- Homework assignments that respect personal style and time limitations
- Pre-scheduled extended sessions to get things resolved
- When the time is right, discussion of issues where strong feelings are involved — I always give a respectful and fair hearing to each partner, even if we may focus temporarily on the issue of one of you.
- Trading accusations
- Diagnosing your partner
- Repeating old complaints
- Unloading many issues at once, which muddies the waters
- Continuing to push when one or both are emotionally flooded
- Getting tongue-tied under pressure
- Saying hurtful things when angry
- Emotional blackmail
- Continuing arguments that are getting nowhere
- Making compromises motivated by guilt
- Insisting on resolving every single complaint (not letting some things go)
- Substance abuse that makes either party overly emotional, irrational or oblivious in a discussion
- Building tensions by sweeping too many issues under the rug
I could add many other instances to this list. The point is that by interrupting arguments and working together in therapy to understand their pattern, many couples reach resolution where previously they were stuck. Many relationship difficulties seem like emotional emergencies but quickly yield to calm, objective information. In our first meeting, if it seems yours is one that’s often quickly resolved, I’ll let you know right away to ease your concerns. Other situations may seem straightforward on the surface. Yet some of these suggest deeper, longstanding difficulties.To ask about a low-cost first appointment, please select this link.
In some situations, your needs may require referral to a specialist who can supplement our work or who may have training or qualifications that are better suited to your needs. Some cases need more intensive treatment or a coordinated response of more than one practitioner or agency. An individual, private practitioner is not always the best resource for treating crisis situations or those that may require medical, psychiatric or law enforcement interventions.