HOW MARRIAGE COUNSELING WORKS
The primary method that I use in helping couples is known as Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT). It is recognized by the APA (American Psychological Association) as the “gold standard” in couples’ therapy and is supported by extensive research. A major APA study found that the large majority of couples (More than 80%) experience significant improvements in relationship satisfaction by working with a therapist trained in EFT. Most importantly, Follow-up studies conducted with those who participated in EFT showed the positive effects of the treatment continued for years after the therapy concluded.
This is the process outlined in 2 stages:
STAGE 1 – CREATING SAFETY TOGETHER
Understanding the Patterns that Prevent You From Finding Comfort in One Another.
This stage has 4 main goals:
- Understand how you relate to one another and why.
- Discover specifically where (despite your best intentions!) communication breaks down and how this leads to your “negative cycle”.
- Identify the feelings (anger, frustration, anxiety, etc.) that are stirred up in your interactions and explore what might be underneath them (pain, sadness, fear). Begin to feel safe enough to share some of these “underneath” feelings with your partner.
- Together, you begin to really understand your “negative cycle”. Each of you gets how (despite my best intentions) I do things that “trigger” my partner. You also understand what’s really driving you to do those things and why it is so scary for your partner.
You now feel safer together, because you understand that your partner is not the enemy. You are a team, united and helping each other stay out of the “negative cycle”. Your relationship already feels so much better!
STAGE 2 – CREATING INTIMACY TOGETHER
Forming a New, Intimate Relationship Bond
This stage has 3 main goals:
- With a sense of renewed safety and compassion, you are both able to explore your relationship experience together. This includes the “raw spots”; the difficult experiences, doubts, uncertainties and struggles that you have always kept to yourself. Your therapist supports you as you begin to bravely share your inner world with the most important person in your life.
- You begin to create more space within yourself for the depth of your partner’s world. You slowly become more comfortable and perhaps even honored by what your partner is sharing. It is all so new, and as you adjust to the depth of your partner, you experience him/her in a remarkable way. Some couples describe this as: “I finally feel like I am starting to know him” or “I feel so special that she is willing to share these parts with me.”
- You now have a real sense of what it means to be there for one another on the deepest level. You feel strong enough to ask that your partner be there for you, especially when you need it most. Your partner can listen with an open heart and respond with affection and commitment.
Deeply united and intimately connected you are ready to continue to build a life. You know that you are in this together and will forever be there for each other, come what may.