7 Principles that Make Couples Therapy Effective

It is only natural to lose hope when things have been bad for too long between two partners. The number of blogs on the internet regarding couples therapy not being effective enough to save your relationship, or saying that it has low success rate, may only add to your distress too.

But who decides whether couples therapy is effective or not? In some cases, couples therapy doesn’t work because people wait till the last moment to seek the therapist. This is when they have already decided the fate of the relationship, and made up their mind to part ways. On the other hand, the need of a good therapist, who can bring about changes, is also essential. Therefore, effort from both the couple and the therapist makes the therapy effective enough to save the relationship.

Whether the therapy is based on a behavioral approach, evidence-based approach, or emotional approach – using the right skills and addressing the exact issue is all that is important. Below are 7 principles that makes couples therapy effective and provides positive outcomes.

1.   Establishing Common Goals

Before starting off with the therapy, it is imperative to decide the expectations of both the partners from this therapy. Whether they want to be together or not is a significant decision to make. A therapist can’t bring any transformation in the relation, if both or either of them don’t want to change. So decide your goals, and then move forward for impactful couples therapy.

2.   Identifying Vicious Cycles

A lot of times, couples have no idea that their way of dealing with a conflict is negative, and will have destructive consequences in the future. Identifying that they have a maladaptive pattern is the first step in doing something about it. The therapist will ensure to inform the couple slowly on how the negative cycle will impact them, and try to eliminate such behavior. This includes inflicting physical, economic, or psychological harm to each other. Therapists also deal with issues such as domestic violence, anger management, and drug abuse, as they understand its seriousness. Moreover, they give solutions such as a ‘time-out’ when the argument gets completely out of hand.

3.   Accepting Responsibility of Contributing to the Negative Cycle

Instead of playing the blame game, couples need to accept the negatives as well as positives they both are bringing to the table, which is affecting their relationship. No one is perfect, and taking up the responsibility of their negative actions is what improves the bond. It is through your interaction with each other that the therapist will decide on the strategy to use, and as long as those strategies are adaptive and making a positive impact, they are functional. The therapist will make an effort to stop the continuing negative cycle through positivity, and will enhance the communicating style.

4.   Building Healthy Communication Skills

The therapist will tell you to let go of the abusive and pessimistic communication pattern, and treat each other with love and care. Good can overcome the bad, so communicating properly is the key. There is a special coaching given to couples to learn how to communicate in a positive way. The therapist will enlighten the couples regarding discussions that solve problems, and discussions that create more issues. If your goal is to save the relationship, you will know which one to follow.

5.   Adopting Vulnerable Style and Abandoning Anger

Our instinctual response to something that hurts us is anger. However, if you talk to your partner about what behavior of theirs has caused you pain, it will be more impactful rather than pointless shouting. It is okay to show that you were hurt, to show your vulnerability, as it will make the other person realize what they did wrong, and they will make efforts to change that aspect.

On the other hand, shutting yourself down and avoiding the person will also not resolve the pressing problem either. Rather, it will keep building up in your mind, and will take the shape of an explosion and harm your relationship even further.

6.   Promoting Strength and Appreciation

Obviously, during an argument, you will only see the bad qualities of your partner, and all that is wrong with relationship. However, the therapist will help you see all the good things and positivity, which the anger has blinded you from. So rather than looking at the dark part, you can focus on the bright aspects and make your relationship work. The factor of strength and appreciation will add amusement and a fun element in the relation and reduce the negativity between you.

7.   Establishing Connection, Intimacy and Goodwill

Last but not the least is forming a special bond and connection with each other, and understanding that the other person is only human. No one in their right mind wants to deliberately hurt another person. This will lead to the establishment of positive and feelings of goodwill towards each other and add to their intimacy level.

These principles may sound very basic and simple. However, their implementation is equally challenging and fruitful. If your therapist can help you adopt them, then there is still hope for both of you.


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