The secret’s out, therapy can be a life-changing experience for individuals and couples navigating new or established relationships. Couples therapy aims to help a couple improve or better understand their style of relating and connecting. Healthy relationships don’t necessarily just happen; it results from applying skills like boundaries and practical communication approaches, which sometimes requires a professional.
Couples therapy can be helpful because an objective party can potentially close the gap between you and your partner. It can be used for new couples, couples preparing for marriage, married couples, and even couples considering divorce.
Why should you participate in couples therapy?
Communication. The number one reason most couples go to therapy is for support with communication. As you may know, communication is a key element in any relationship’s success, but especially for intimate relationships.
Have you ever had a conversation with your partner that immediately turned to arguments or quickly escalated into a shouting match? Maybe you’ve left an encounter feeling manipulated or dismissed? Or worse, feeling alone or disappointed with the quality of your relationship.
That is where couple’s therapy can come in to lend the tools to navigate the intense emotions that come into communication dynamics. The goals are to help create space to explore more understanding and empathy between partners and foster fulfilling partnerships. For minority couples, therapy is an excellent resource for validating the black and brown experience, with opportunities to experience restorative conversations.
For example, historically, many Black men have learned messages that certain emotions are not ok to express and are a sign of weakness. This is similar for many minority groups who culturally may not have been taught how to be vulnerable or have that role modeled in their lives. Black women may be more open with their emotions but are also taught to be superwomen and hide their struggles, even when overwhelmed and falling apart. These dynamics within a relationship can easily lead to misunderstandings and conflicts.
You need to know that expressing yourself doesn’t diminish your masculinity or weaken your strength as a woman. Relationship dynamics can challenge that at times, and we can’t stress enough, you are not alone in that experience.
Trauma. Trauma is a profound loss of control. By the time we come into adulthood, most of us have had to experience at least two traumatic events, if not more. Events such as a significant loss, experiencing a parent incarcerated or subjected to alcohol or substance use, sexual trauma, lingering intergenerational family trauma, witnessing community trauma, experiencing abuse or neglect.
Trauma directly impacts our ability to trust and connect with others. It affects intimacy, one’s ability to know and express your emotions, and even your ability to be emotionally available to others. Couples therapy can be a valuable tool for couples where one or both partners are looking to heal.
Passion/ Sex Related Issues. Sex is still a taboo topic in most cultures and most relationships. Couples who struggle in the bedroom need not be ashamed. Many factors can affect a couple’s sex life. At times there are emotional aspects of that (such as trauma mentioned above or other fears or anxieties) that can be addressed with the support of a couple’s therapist.
Infidelity. Infidelity often alters the trajectory of a relationship and can lead to issues related to trust, intimacy, and forgiveness. Many couples seek therapy as a sincere effort to save the relationship and heal from the damage infidelity can cause, or even to resolve these issues and amicably separate.
While there are many other reasons to engage in couple’s therapy, like boundary issues, differing parenting styles, navigating the health of a spouse, finances or just wanting core skills to support your relationship- whatever the reason it can be especially validating to hear from a professional.
If you are experiencing any of the above or other relationship concerns, please contact the practice as we have several openings for couples. Additionally, keep an eye out for future couples’ workshops hosted at Kensho Psychotherapy Services, where couples can come together to learn tips and strategies to make their relationships stronger.
Written by Alyssa Heavens, MFT Intern and edited by Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R, Psychotherapist, Clinical Supervisor & Mental Health Consultant