Sonya Thomas lcsw

Getting the Most from Couples Therapy – Part 1

I am participating in a year long training in the Developmental Model of Couples Therapy, crafted by Drs. Ellyn Bader and Peter Pearson.  The Developmental Model draws on Object Relations Theory, Attachment Theory and Neurobiology to inform the work that therapists do when helping couples transform their relationship.  Borrowed and adapted from an article by Dr. Pearson, I want to share with you how to get the most from couples therapy.

Couples are often uncertain what to expect from the process of couples therapy. I have found most couples approach therapy with the notion that each person will describe their distress and somehow the therapist will assist them to create a happier, more functional, relationship. They expect to learn some new or better skills. However, most people hope their partner will do most of the learning and changing rather than seeing their role in what is not working and being intent on changing themselves. This is not how to get the most from your couples therapy. Read on.

So that you may know some of my key guiding principles, I am sharing this document to provide clarity and focus to our work.

Goals and Objectives of Couples Therapy

A major aim of therapy is increasing your knowledge about yourself, your partner and the patterns of interaction between you. Therapy becomes effective as you apply new knowledge to break ineffective patterns and develop better ones.

Key tasks of couples therapy include increasing your clarity about:

  • The kind of life you want to build together.
  • The kind of partner you aspire to be.
  • Your individual blocks to becoming the kind of partner you aspire to be.

To create sustained improvement in your relationship you need:

  • To learn the knowledge and practice the skills necessary to be the kind of partner you aspire to be.
  • To have a life separate from your partner because you are not joined at the hip.
  • The appropriate attitudes and skills to work as a team.
  • The motivation to persist even when it feels daunting or is tiresome.
Stay tuned for Part 2.  Until then, peace.