Relationships are complex. It’s not just a matter of wanting: maintain a balance between passion, intimacy and commitmentCommunicating properly and having a relationship that allows both members of the couple to grow and enrich each other takes a lot of effort. In this context, it is not uncommon for different types of conflict to arise throughout the relationship that the couple will have to deal with, and sometimes they may not be able to do it on their own.
An available alternative, if there is a desire to improve the situation, is to call in a professional: it may be necessary to turn to a professional to help us do couples therapy. However, couples therapy is not a homogeneous thing that is always put into practice in the same way, different schools of thought have developed different approaches which may be more or less useful depending on the problem in question. In this article, we will discuss what couples therapy is in general and some of the types of couples therapy that exist.
What is couples therapy?
The type of treatment or procedure used at the professional level is called couples therapy. in order to improve the situation and the relationship of a couple faced with the existence of a certain type of problem which interferes with its normal functioning or which generates suffering for one or two parties.
This type of therapy is very helpful for couples with significant issues and conflicts or for those who are looking to resolve minor issues but may affect the relationship.
The most common is that it hides behind different problems the presence of some kind of frustration or dissatisfaction with some aspect of the relationship, usually related or made worse by a lack of communication.
There may not be a clear demand beyond the presence of relationship issues, being one of the main aspects to work on to elucidate the reason for the discontent in order to find ways to reduce it and introduce changes that allow conflict resolution. however, in other cases the cause of the conflict may be more limited to a single circumstance, Specific situation or discrepancy.
Some of the main causes that usually lead a couple to go for a consultation they are usually the onset of infidelity, problems or lack of communication, poor coexistence, the presence of jealousy, emotional dependence, fertility issues, sexual dysfunction, lack of shared goals or perception lack of involvement of one of the parties, gaps in the education of offspring, structural gaps in hierarchy issues or lack of equity of power or unexpected issues such as the death of ” a child or the diagnosis of or suffering from a chronic or terminal medical illness or mental disorder.
Types of couples therapy according to their paradigm
All these problems can be observed and solved very different theoretical and practical perspectives. For example, some of them may focus more on emotional factors or the sensations of their members while others rely more on the existence of family roles and structures or on more cognitive aspects. All are considered couples therapy and all have their uses in different situations.
Below we will take a look at some of the main types of couples therapy that exist. according to the theoretical current from which they start.
1. Systemic couple therapy
One of the most well-known types of couples therapy, and which also leads to the application of family therapy, is that which is based on the systems paradigm.
In this case, the relationship is seen as an open system in which there is an exchange of roles, rules and relationships. Most of the problems are usually related to communication problems, lack of understanding or expression of the needs of each member of the couple or the emergence or maintenance of fixed roles that become dysfunctional and the generators of suffering.
2. Cognitive-behavioral couple therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy is the most widespread and recognized today in most facets of psychology. This type of therapy it is generally related to the cognitions, beliefs, expectations and thoughts of each subject, As well as in the resulting behaviors.
Thus, it is common that the differences in terms of expectations in the relationship, the presence of behaviors that involve suffering for one of the parties, operate under this paradigm. We work on situations in which there is excessive control or weak mutual reinforcement.
3. Psychodynamic couple therapy
Couples therapy conducted from a psychodynamic perspective generally focuses on the presence of conflicts produced in childhood or early development as the cause of the generation of relationship problems in the present. as well the use of defense mechanisms such as projection on the other is analyzed of one’s own fears or of the introjection of characteristics of the other into the individual’s ego.
Other notable aspects are the great value placed on the therapeutic relationship and the conscious and unconscious fantasies of each member of the couple, especially when it comes to the relationship.
4. Humanistic couple therapy
Another type of couples therapy, perhaps less known than the previous ones, is that based on the humanist approach. From this approach, we seek to ensure that the members of the couple develop and optimize their potentialities, demolish masks and roles and discover themselves. He is considered as the development of the individuality of each member of the couple which will lead to a stronger union between the two.
5. Other types of couples therapy
So far, we have talked about different types of couples therapy based on the paradigm it is based on, but these are not the only ones that exist. We can find within these same paradigms different ways of conceptualizing and directing therapy.
For example, there is emotional therapy (In which he seeks to improve the bond of emotional expression and overcome the vicious circles of negative emotions) or the integral based on the acceptance and engagement of the problematic situation (for example, the suffering of a chronic disorder). There are also therapies that focus more on certain aspects of the relationship, such as sex therapy.
Does the therapeutic process fail if it breaks?
It would be a mistake to consider that the goal of couples therapy is to avoid breaking up in all settings. Artificially extending the length of a love affair makes no sense if this part of fundamental failures, and in such cases couples therapy is a means by which to come to that conclusion and to be able to go through with the breakup without feeling of guilt and “what would have happened if …”.
Likewise, he favors that when the relationship ends, it is done on the best possible terms. It is, in short, a way of exploring possibilities by maximizing the likelihood of the relationship continuing in the event that it has the potential to work.
- Biscotti, O. (2006). Couples therapy: a systemic view. 1a. ed. Buenos Aires: Lumen.
- Christensen, A .; Atkins, DC; Yi, J .; Baucom, DH and George, WH (2006). Individual and couple adaptation for 2 years after a randomized clinical trial comparing traditional behavioral couples therapy to integration. J Consult Clin Psychol. 74 (6): 1180-91.
- Lepore, J. (2010). The rise of marriage therapy and other dreams of human improvement. New York: the New Yorker.