Couples work is somewhat different from individual psychotherapy. Mainly, the therapist does not climb into the individual experience of a person with the same persistence and intensity. Instead the therapist will focus more on the communication between you and your partner. He will try to bring into awareness the layers and meanings of what goes on between you rather than what goes on inside one or the other of you.

The goal of couples therapy is to improve or restore the communication. A relationship is only as strong as the communication between the partners. All else is secondary.

But the road to that goal is exactly the same as in individual psychotherapy: Increased awareness yeilding changes in feelings and behavior within the relationship. Furthermore, as with individual psychotherapy, the work should have a logic and excitement to it; it should be more than someone telling you how to manage your relationship. And if there is no movement in 10 or 15 sessions, if you and your companion are still bickering in the same useless way or whatever has been your pattern, talk about this with the therapist and consider a change in therapist or in the type of psychotherapy. 

I’d like to indulge in one observation from my work with couples. As physicians have been moaning since the breed was invented, Why do you all wait so long to see me? By the time many couples come in, they have built up so many years of dissatisfaction, resentment, disgust, and eventually loathing, that it becomes a Herculean task for them just to sit in the same room together. So if you and your partner have quirks, little bumps in your interactions that eat at you and don’t seem to resolve in your respective minds and hearts, don’t keep shrugging them off! Don’t wait until one of you is ready to walk out. Go and sort it out with an expert in human feelings and communication -- which is one definition of a psychotherapist.

Group Psychotherapy and Support Groups

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