The Complexity of Couples Counselling

Marriage is not an easy business and during the first decade satisfaction significantly decreases.(Bradbury, Fincham & Beach, 2000) The resultant distress has consequences for individual psychological well-being as well as a pervasive effect on the broader family system and often results in a request for couples’ counselling. Working with couples in distress can be difficult as we relate to two people with often vastly different views, beliefs and agendas in the therapeutic process, in the context of highly charged emotions. Maintaining neutrality is challenging while the practitioner seeks to encourage change in the relationship without appearing to bias one partner’s view over the other. In recent years there has been an increase in theoretical approaches to couples therapy, each having much to offer in their focus on the interpersonal process. Nielsen (2017) notes that with so many choices available, the therapist must “either cling for dear life to one theory or toss them all and go with the flow”.

Notably, couples therapy requires a very different structure than that used in individual practice. Understanding and working with the emotional temperature in the room and the skills to provide containment when feelings run high demands an empathetic listening and respectful therapeutic alliance between the couple and therapist. At Bower Place, couple counselling is available from highly experienced therapists who are mindful of the theoretical principles that underpin effective couple therapy. Maintaining an understanding of current research allows therapist to adopt helpful, engaging and effective approaches.
References
Bradbury, T.N., Fincham, F.D. and Beach, S.R.H. (2000). Research on the Nature and Determinants of Marital Satisfaction: A Decade in Review. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 62, 964-980.
Lebow, J.L., Chambers, A.L., Christensen, A. and Johnson, S.M. (2012). Research on the Treatment of Couple Distress. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 38(1), 145-168.
Nielsen, A.C. (2017). From Couple Therapy 1.0 to a Comprehensive Model: A Roadmap for Sequencing and Integrating Systemic, Psychodynamic and Behavioral Approaches in Couple Therapy. Family Process, 56, 3, 540-557.