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What Are the Different Types of Couples Therapy, and Which is Right for Us?

a couple in therapy

There can be a stigma attached to couples therapy sessions, with some people believing that signing up for couples counseling is the beginning of the end of a relationship. However, marriage and family therapists can be an excellent way to get your relationships back on track. In this article, we'll take a closer look at how couples therapy can help relationships, give an overview of the types of couples therapy, and offer some tips for finding the right couples therapist in your area.

Benefits of Couples Therapy

Couples therapy offers a variety of services to help adult relationships heal and/or thrive. A couples therapist can help build communication skills, manage conflict, and guide partners through any number of relationship issues like infidelity, disconnection, and sexual difficulties.

Some common challenges that couples therapy can address include:

  • Financial disagreements
  • Poor conflict resolution skills
  • Spending time together as a couple
  • Accepting each other's values and beliefs
  • Intimacy challenges, including sexual intimacy
  • Family relationships
  • Health issues and other external stressors

Different Types of Couples Therapy

Couples counseling comes in a variety of forms and uses different techniques. This can be beneficial because there are so many types of relationships, and couples or marriage counseling that one couple finds ineffective may work great for another. If you find that you and your partner aren't getting the results you want from one couples or family therapist, give another one a try.

6 Counseling Approaches For Couples Therapy

The following are common types of evidence-based couples therapy that are backed by research.

Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy

EFT is a type of couples therapy that is designed to improve attachment and bonding between partners. This is done under the guidance of a therapist who helps partners gain a deeper understanding of the patterns that lead to them feeling disconnected from each other.

Emotionally focused therapy can help improve relationship satisfaction by identifying destructive patterns in a romantic relationship, and the factors that are interfering with healthy attachments. By focusing on and healing these unhealthy behaviors, the couple can learn to bond and build a healthy relationship. Emotion-focused therapy is an extremely effective counseling approach, with a 75% success rate, according to the American Psychological Association.

Imago Relationship Therapy (IRT)

Imago relationship therapy, or IRT, can be used to help couples identify childhood experiences that may influence their adult relationships. By exploring childhood trauma, Imago therapy can help discover attachment issues and other effects that may be impacting the current relationship, facilitate healing of these early wounds, and help each partner feel more empathy toward themselves and the other partner.

Cognitive Behavioral Couples Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a common individual therapy that can also be used to help couples. It is based on the idea that you can shift negative behavior patterns into more positive ones with the guidance of a couples therapist.

Solution-Focused Therapy

This type of couples therapy can help partners who are dealing with a specific issue in their relationship that they want to work on together. It is most often used to achieve short-term relationship goals and help couples avoid going in circles over a certain identified issue.

Gottman Method Couples Therapy

The Gottman method was developed by a husband and wife team of psychologists named John and Julie Gottman, and it focuses on addressing areas of conflict and then guiding the couple through problem-solving skills. This method was designed to increase intimacy and improve the friendship between partners.

Narrative Therapy

This counseling approach has both partners describe their relationship problems in narrative form, and then rewrite their stories. This is a useful form of therapy to encourage couples to understand that recurring conflicts can come from both sides and that neither person is the sole cause of failures in their relationship.

Individual Therapy

Sometimes, in a relationship, couples therapy is not an option because one partner or another is not willing. In this case, one partner may choose to get individual therapy for themselves to improve mental health, try to understand underlying emotions, and learn coping skills for challenges. In some cases of abuse, a therapist may recommend that their client leave the relationship.

Find Out Which Type of Couples Therapy Is Best for You

When deciding which type of couples counseling is right for you, it can help to do a little soul-searching and research ahead of time. First, decide what your goals are as a couple. Are you looking to improve your communication skills? Does one or both partners have a mental health condition that should be addressed? How are your conflict resolution skills?

Once you have an idea of what you want, do a bit of research into the types of couples therapy. For example, you may choose emotionally-focused therapy if you want something that to help you bond better. Narrative therapy can be effective if you are putting a lot of blame on yourself. Sex therapy may be more appropriate if you are dealing with sexual issues. The Gottman method can be a good choice for a couple looking for therapy that implements problem-solving and strengthens bonds.

Finding a Couples Therapist

Creating a strong and healthy relationship can be essential to individual mental health too. The good news is that finding couples therapy that works for your situation can be far simpler today than it has been in the past.

To find couples therapy near you, you can search a trusted site like the APA to search for the terms "couples therapy" and the type of couples counseling you're looking for such as "narrative therapy," "imago therapy," or "faith-based marriage counseling." For those looking for couples counseling using the Gottman Method, you can go straight to the Gottman website to look for couples therapists.

Couples Therapy Online

Licensed marriage and family therapists can also be found on online therapy platforms. Online therapy can be helpful for busy couples who may have difficulty scheduling in-person appointments together. Online therapy can also offer access to couples who may live in geographical areas with less choice when it comes to choosing a mental health therapist or a particular type of therapy.

Final Thoughts on Couples Therapy

Dealing with negative patterns of behavior or poor communication in a marriage can be difficult and negatively impact mental health. Fortunately, couple's therapy in Austin offers strategies for romantic partners to deal with communication challenges, learn about managing conflict, and get both partners on the same page when it comes to building a healthy relationship.

Book a Couples Therapy Session in Austin Today

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