Couples Therapy

Attachment Theory in Couples Therapy

For three weeks in November, I served as a faculty member of a wonderful on-line forum on Attachment Theory and Couples Therapy. We had an enlightening dialogue about both the research and clinical application of attachment theory concepts to couples therapy. In the process, I discovered the Couple Attachment Interview. I was introduced to it by Carolyn and Phil Cowan. While many of you may know the AAI, this interview is specific to couples. The CAI is an interview where an individual provides a narrative about his/her relationship with a current romantic/marriage partner. It is designed to assess a partner's frame of mind about attachment.… Read more...

Three Types of Goals and Their Use in Couples Therapy

This month we describe a way of classifying goals into three succinct categories and we show how to use them in couples therapy sessions. Goals can be classified into three types: “doing,” “having/getting” and “being.” Consider each type: 1. DOING. These are action-oriented goals. They require some active behavior. Examples of these include participating in sports, activities, or hobbies. Other “doing” goals include giving a feared speech, hugging one's partner, or traveling to some desired vacation spot. 2. HAVING/GETTING. People talk frequently about what they would like to have.… Read more...

Integrating Individual Therapy Sessions into Couples Therapy

… 6 Advantages of Making This Choice This month we are writing our thoughts about the question that is asked more often than any other when we are teaching and training. The question is: Do you see partners individually when you are working with the couple? Our resounding answer is yes. There are more advantages of doing this than there are disadvantages. However, each case must be evaluated on a case by case basis. First, let's be clear. We are not talking about taking either partner into long-term, intensive individual therapy with us. We are talking about intertwining couples' and individual sessions throughout the process of couples work, while keeping each partner's goals in the forefront.… Read more...

How To Get The Most From Couples Therapy

  This document is designed to help you get the most benefit from our work together. The first three sections deal with how to prepare for and maximize the value of our sessions. The fourth section summarizes some brief concepts about relationships and productive couples therapy. Your job is to create your own individual objectives for being in therapy. Like a good coach, my job is to help you reach them. I have many, many tools to help you become a more effective partner – they work best when you are clear about how you aspire to be. My goal is to help you each make better adjustments and responses to each other without violating your core values or deeply held principles.… Read more...

Early Stages of Couples Therapy

… Define Yourself Clearly to Your Clients Last month we started working on your own definition of what you offer to the couples in your practice. This month we will talk about what you expect from your clients and how you tell them. Clarity on your expectations is a process of self-definition. This means you bring your own differentiation into the therapy. It is not easy to define what you expect from your clients–they represent a diverse group. And how can you describe your expectations of future clients, people you haven't even met yet? At first, when you write down your expectations, you might discover, like we did, that they are incomplete, ill-formed, vague, contradictory, unrealistic, incompatible, or impossible for all couples.… Read more...

7 Strategies for Establishing Positive Contact in Couples Therapy

  In this newsletter, we look at the issue of how you establish contact in the early sessions of couples therapy. Most graduate school courses teach the importance demonstrating unconditional positive regard for our clients. This is taught as a primary way to make good contact. While it can work well with individual clients, it's not as simple in the more complex triangle of couples therapy. Couples often show us many of their destructive or dysfunctional behaviors in the early sessions. We certainly don't want to show unconditional positive regard or acceptance for these behaviors. Also, partners watch carefully to see what we accept about the other.… Read more...

A Glossary of Terms that are sometimes Confusing

Couples Therapy is a counseling procedure that seeks to improve the adjustment of two people who have created an interdependent relationship. There are no standard procedures to help two people improve their adjustments to each other. Generally, a more experienced therapist will offer more perspectives and tools to a couple. Length of treatment will depend on severity of problems, motivation and skills of the therapist. A couple can be dating, living together, married or separating and may be gay, lesbian or heterosexual.

Marriage Therapy is a term often used interchangeably with marriage counseling. The term marriage implies two people have created a union sanctioned by a government or religious institution. The methods used in marriage counseling, marriage therapy and couples therapy are interchangeable and depend more on the specific challenges of each unique couple.

Psychotherapy is one or more processes to help improve psychological and emotional functioning. Examples are psychoanalysis, cognitive therapy, behavior therapy, Gestalt therapy, Transactional Analysis, Rational-Emotive therapy, or group therapy. Many forms of psychotherapy are blends of different approaches. For example, newer forms of psychotherapy called energy psychology draw upon recent advances in brain and neuroscience. These approaches often build on cognitive behavioral methods.

Clinical Psychologist. After graduating from college, it usually takes about five years of graduate school to get a Ph.D. in Psycholgy. It then requires an additional two years of supervision and passing a written (and often) an oral exam. There are a few states that allow psychologists to prescribe medications (with additional training) but that is uncommon.

Psychiatrist. After graduation from medical school, there is a generally a 4-year psychiatric residency. After the completion of this training, psychiatrists must pass an exam issued by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology to obtain certification and legally practice in the field. Psychiatrists can prescribe medications.

Clinical Social Worker. This profession usually requires two years of study after obtaining an undergraduate degree. While specific licensure requirements vary by state, most require clinical social workers to obtain 3,000 hours or 2 years of supervised clinical experience, after obtaining a Masters degree. Social workers can also specialize in diverse fields such as human services management, social welfare analysis, community organizing, social and community development, and social and political research.

Marriage and Family Therapist. Obtaining this license requires a Masters degree which takes approximately two years of post graduate study. The license also requires 3000 hours of supervised work and passing written exams.

The Couples Institute. We have assembled a group of top notch therapists at The Couples Institute. Whatever marriage help or marriage advice you are looking for, we are here to serve you. While most other therapists see only a few couples a week, we specialize in marriage and couples relationships, working to develop and bring you the most current and effective approaches to couples therapy. For more information about couples therapy or marriage counseling, see our couples therapy section.