Couples therapy is a unique modality that takes courage on the couples’ part and unique skills on the part of the therapist. It is a dynamic dance whereby the therapist has to have the flexibility to be in the shoes of each person in the Coupledom to hear and translate emotions from partner to partner to better shape the choreography of their relationship. This is a unique collaboration of three which is based first on forming trust and then moves to a pragmatic, emotionally honest phase of solution focused outcomes. As the therapist, I find this modality stimulating, challenging and enormously rewarding when I see couples feeling safer and better understood by their partner. The goal is to deepen trust in the relationship in tandem with increased self-knowledge, self-respect and respect for the other which serve as the pillars of support going forward. A new muscle of understanding, insight and honesty is being formed through the hard work of the therapy; owning one’s part in the conflicts without sacrificing self- esteem or individual identity. This a multi-layered, highly dynamic venture whose rewards are lifelong and shared with the entire family.
In my view, it takes courage to enter into couples therapy, and even more to stay the course. Fear of “exposure” of inadequacies or guilt often blocks well-meaning partners from crossing the threshold and doing the work. Often, one member over time “forces” their partner to make an appointment for couples therapy or counseling. Because of the high level of fear and anxiety often accompanying these first visits, it is critical that the process of collaborative exploration begin in as “safe and accepting” an atmosphere as possible.
I view that as my first task in the therapeutic collaboration. Over time, partners can begin to take risks, i.e. reveal feelings that they have striven to hide from themselves and each other for years. As a team of “three”, the couple and I brainstorm and study together what behaviors need to change, what rigid views of self and other need modification and clarification, what distortions and self images from the past have put a blight on the present. A technique that is often very successful when the couple is paralyzed by two opposing opinions on a particular issue is that we seek a third option, a compromise that is acceptable to each member of The Coupledom but needed the presence of a third party to unearth.