Couples therapy is a type of psychotherapy in which a registered psychologist with experience working with couples uses a variety of therapeutic interventions to help people in romantic relationships gain insight into their relationships, resolve conflict, and improve relationship satisfaction. Although the specifics of behavioural couples therapy vary based on the theoretical perspective of the therapist, every couple's therapy entails the following elements:
- Concentration on a single issue
- The therapist's active participation in addressing the relationship as a whole rather than each member separately
- Early on in treatment, solution-focused, change-oriented interventions are needed.
- A clear definition of treatment goals
Research has shown that couples often avoid seeking intervention in their troubled relationship. Couples therapy or marriage counselling is often recommended for individuals who want to resolve issues that have a negative impact on their relationship. Subsequently, these individuals seek therapy to deal with resulting relationship stress. Therapy serves to improve communication between partners and help understand the events that lead to negative or complex emotions.
Couples therapy is useful for dealing with a number of relationship problems, including, but not limited to, power dynamics, intimacy issues, sexual dissatisfaction, intimate partner abuse, infidelity, and communication difficulties, as well as conflict management. Therapy addresses many facets of a relationship and often uncovers issues that were not previously considered or dealt with, which can be very helpful, particularly if a couple is considering divorce or separation or wanting to improve on the quality of their relationship.
During treatment, Prof Pretorius will assist the couple in understanding the relational dynamics that are causing the issue and guiding both parties in understanding their involvement in the dysfunctional interactions. They will adjust their perceptions of the relationship and each other due to their increased understanding of relationship challenges and discomfort. Couples therapy also entails behaviour modification. Couples' therapists frequently assign homework to help couples apply what they've learned in treatment to their everyday relationships. Most couples leave therapy with a better understanding of their relationship patterns and the essential abilities to communicate and problem-solve with their partner.
Any relationship can benefit from couples therapy, including:
- Relationships of any sexuality
- Interracial relationships
- Younger relationships
- Large age difference relationships
- Any stage of a relationship
In some cases, therapists will meet each party separately for some time to treat the relationship. This is a clinical decision that each therapist makes based on the needs of both the couple and the individuals involved.
According to studies, successful treatment sessions can help recover 75% of relationships. Yes, it is possible to save a relationship if both partners agree to go to couples therapy to improve their relationship.