Relationships will face different types of difficulties at each stage of their development, it is normal that sometimes external help is required to solve these conflicts. The complexity of these relationships lies precisely in the diverse opinions, interests and objectives that both members have. Maintaining a balance to meet the needs of two people without affecting or limiting them turns out to be a great challenge.

A romantic relationship is not only about passion and intimacy , other factors also converge such as commitment, mutual support and trust; in addition to other aspects. The purpose is to ensure that these people grow both emotionally and also personally, socially and professionally. There must be a great effort on both sides and therefore they will have to face any situation to achieve success, although they may require help because they are not able to do it on their own.

When you want to improve the current situation, you can seek professional help offered by psychologists, psychiatrists as well as therapists trained to perform couples therapy. This is a resource that can be carried out in different ways, in its practice it is adapted to the needs of the patients. Different approaches of theoretical currents of psychology are also taken into account this is done depending on the problem in question.

What is couples therapy?

In a couples therapy it is a treatment which is characterized by using different types of professional resources that aim to improve the situation in a couple relationship. Basically it is a flexible procedure because it integrates any type of tool or practice, these must be chosen according to the problem to be solved. Likewise, depending on the criteria used by the professional therapist in charge, the most appropriate is selected.

This is a resource that is used in order to improve communication and any type of conflict in a couple. The intervention turns out to be necessary when considerable changes are observed in the habitual functioning, tense situations begin to be experienced that violate the tranquility and communication between both parties.

This type of therapy is usually the final resource once other methods have been used in which there has not necessarily been the intervention of third parties. When there are major conflicts that affect the relationship, they generate frustration and dissatisfaction in various aspects, both personal and at home.

How does it work? 

This treatment works by analyzing and attacking at the root the conflict that has worsened the lack of communication between two people. The link between the two can be violated for different reasons of considerable gravity, the important thing is to clarify what has been the reason that has generated the conflict. Subsequently, changes may be introduced that will eventually allow the resolution of these same conflicts.

This therapy must be directed by a professional trained in this matter, in this way it is guaranteed to treat the cause of the conflict in a more effective way. In addition, it must be considered that sometimes it may be limited to a discrepancy, circumstance or a specific fact .

It is usually the ideal alternative when a couple begins to have situations such as infidelity, communication difficulties, jealousy emotional dependence , sexual dysfunction or fertility problems , absence of shared goals or discrepancies with respect to the hierarchy of household roles for instance. Any of these problems are usually unexpected, to which are added others of a much more serious nature such as the diagnosis of a disease, the death of a child or another member of the family or mental disorders.

What are the most recognized types of therapy? 

The operation of this type of therapy depends on the problems observed and that have priority to be treated, therefore it can be approached through different practical and theoretical perspectives . This is how a wide variety of couples therapies arise, each one of them manages to solve emotional and structural aspects at the family level. On the other hand, others focus their attention on personal problems or even cognitive aspects.

The main types of couples therapy most used today are described below. Likewise, the dynamics that constitute these therapies are briefly mentioned. They are as follows:

Systemic couples therapy

This is the best known typology and it is usually used in the family environment because it is based on the systemic paradigm. This means that a much broader perspective is maintained, requiring the use of an open system, thus promoting the exchange of rules and roles that promote better communication.

It is usually used to attack the root of most of the problems related to the family where difficulties in interaction, lack of empathy and understanding are observed, as well as problems in the capture and expression of needs. In other words, it is the ideal technique to treat dysfunctionality in different areas of coexistence within the home.

Cognitive-behavioral couples therapy

It is the most recognized technique within the branch of psychology applied to the family. Cognitive aspects such as thoughts, beliefs, expectations and behaviors are taken into account . In this way, it would be covering all the divergences that are associated with negative behaviors that affect family life.

For example, this is the case of those situations where excessive control is generated, they limit the actions and decisions of some members of a family. Therefore, it is a therapy that will focus on making important changes in the thought and behavior patterns that these situations generate.

Psychodynamic couples therapy 

It maintains a psychodynamic approach, which means that all conflicts that have an origin from early development are analyzed , this is especially relevant in younger members who carry these conflicts from childhood. These same problems are associated with the parents, the defense mechanisms that serve as a projection of the fears and concerns that these situations have generated are analyzed.

It is the ideal alternative to treat both unconscious and conscious problems. The members of a couple or a family may be suffering from these problems in a much more direct way, which affects their mental stability. 

Generally, all these types of therapy integrate the same group of communication techniques and also to improve sexual life ; Even techniques applied to the daily routine are used where different types of activities are programmed. As for communication techniques, they try to improve the relationship by modifying the aspects that have weakened it and creating limits for mutual understanding.

For example, you plan to talk about your relationship for at least 20 minutes a day. It is usually implemented in cognitive behavioral couples therapy, it is done with the intention of taking into account all opinions and ideas.

Another dynamic consists of establishing a line of life in union. This means that it begins from the beginning of the relationship to later make future projections taking into account the present . The idea is to freely express what are the aspirations or desires at the individual level that influences life as a couple. A point of agreement must be found between emotions and goals.

It is not only about talking about important issues, you should also put into practice behaviors that promote a better coexistence . For example, therapists often teach couples to argue in a healthier and more effective way. Thus, it is possible to pose problems in a more precise way and during the process, feasible solutions are reached.

What are your results?

According to what has been shown in the statistics at a global level, at least 75% of couples who go to this type of therapy agree to observe an improvement in their relationships. Marital satisfaction increases considerably, however the effectiveness of this procedure depends largely on the therapist in charge; as well as the degree of commitment of the patients.

So far it is considered that cognitive behavioral couples therapy has shown effectiveness in the detailed analysis of conflicts and other daily problems. This means that it provides more information about their characteristics and how these interactions generate both negative and positive situations. An effective intervention is achieved by proposing solutions to overcome them by increasing the exchange of more positive behaviors, improving communication and also solving problems.

But we must also consider the high percentage of relapses , according to the most up-to-date reports, marital well-being is subjective and other factors that intervene in the relationship are added. In other words, some couples stop integrating the methods and techniques that until now had served as a guide into their daily lives. It is important to integrate these elements into the structure of the couple and apply them in all areas in which both interpersonal, social and professional are involved. In this way, it is guaranteed that the latest advances and contributions maintain the same line of development in the future.

Practical couple therapy exercises

It is usual that a series of exercises are practiced at home that are the prolongation of the activities carried out during the therapy sessions. It is important that the couple follow the instructions of the specialized professional , these exercises have no limits regarding the duration of time and can continue to be used even after the sessions have finished.

Some of the most recommended exercises are described below, which can be adapted to any type of therapy . These may have some variations according to how they adapt to each couple and their needs. They are as follows:

Make mention of positive qualities 

The purpose of this exercise is to express words of admiration and gratitude for the effort shown by the couple. In addition, it is important to mention those qualities that we consider to be positive, some other relevant aspect that symbolizes the value that the person possesses. In this way it is possible to reinforce the emotional stability of the couple, they are opinions that must be sincere in order to have the desired impact.

Leisure plans to share in common

It is advisable to plan activities where there is the participation of both, this means that interests and needs must be taken into account equally. It is positive to dialogue and interact with the tour before its implementation, the objective is to create new memories in common by integrating into a shared leisure plan in which both enjoy.

Examples of this type are found in activities such as going to a concert or attending a dance hall. Other hobbies such as cooking, sports, music, the arts, movies, fashion, and the like can also be good choices. In this way, stagnation, boredom and the repetition of the same daily practices that negatively affect the interaction between the couple are avoided .

Agreements focused on the common good

This is an exercise that addresses relevant aspects such as finding solutions and creating possible mutually beneficial agreements. The idea is to promote the search for more creative solutions that also broaden the vision of the current situation. It is especially relevant in those couples where trust has been violated by different situations in the past, consequently both people are oriented to focus on creating a new bond based on respect, trust and mutual admiration.

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Alexa Clark specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She has experience in listening and welcoming in Individual Therapy and Couples Therapy. It meets demands such as generalized anxiety, professional, love and family conflicts, stress, depression, sexual dysfunction, grief, and adolescents from 15 years of age. Over the years, She felt the need to conduct the psychotherapy sessions with subtlety since She understands that the psychologist acts as a facilitator of self-understanding and self-acceptance, valuing each person's respect, uniqueness, and acceptance.

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