Seeking out couples therapy can be one of the hardest and most important steps you can take. Feelings of failure, shame, fear or embarrassment may be running through your body. You may feel like the relationships needs a tune up, has lost it's spark, is in a never ending cycle of conflict, time together is no longer what it once was or the trust has been broken. The questions which may arise within the relationship might be "should we be together?" "Is this how it's going to be forever?" or "How can we improve our relationship?" Couples counselling can help bring clarity to some of these questions.
Just because things may feel like they are beyond recovery does not mean a path forward is out of reach. Path Forward Counselling has master's level Registered Clinical Counsellors who can provide that outside perspective of couples counselling to shed light on blind spots within your relationship. Couples therapy can be a way to observe, analyze and address the patterns of behavior between you and your partner. We work in the moment, and we provide feedback that touches on the space shared between partners. This can be the starting point for relationship counselling and relationship growth.
Path Forward Counselling believes in the first session being free. This applies to couples therapy as well. We want to get to know you and your partner. We want to see which approach feels comfortable for you both. Most importantly we want you and your partner to have time after the session to ask the most important question, "Did that feel good for us? Can we trust this person? Did we feel safe in that space?" Take your time to answer those questions and then if you feel the fit is right, you can book a follow-up session. The research demonstrates that trust within couples counselling is a very important factor to growth and change.
In couples counselling, we utilize an eclectic approach. What does this mean? It means that we mix elements of different evidence based approaches depending on the needs of the couple. We spend the first session beginning to understand your needs as individuals and a couple. We then begin to tailor an approach to couples therapy that would best fit those shared needs. This is the beauty of an eclectic approach, we can take elements that fit your unique situations.
In relationship counselling, the theories that inform our couples therapy approach are the Gottman method, emotion focused therapy, the Satir Model and attachment theory. We mix these to bring attention to in the moment experiential processing which exists within the relationship. Behaviour is the mode of communication, yet there is so much underneath the surface. We learn how to "crack the code" of behaviour by fostering curiosity instead of animosity. We dissect both verbal and non-verbal language and provide gentle in the moment feedback. Through this application of curiosity, we can together learn to approach our partners in new ways. We can, as the Gottman's say, soften our start up and turn toward our partners in a new approach.
Many of us have not practiced communicating our attachment needs. We may have been taught to put our head down and keep going. The concept of blocking and suppressing our emotions is still pervasive in society and various cultures. It doesn't have to be like this. We can change our relationships patterns. We can learn to stop, breath, reflect and ask ourselves, "Do I want or need to communicate in this way?" and "Have I left the door to connection open or have I slammed it shut?"
Some techniques we commonly utilize in couples therapy:
- Learning about the attachment principle that all behaviour has meaning and the concept of curiosity when trying to "crack the code"
- Understanding attachment needs, how they are communicated, the love languages we each hold, where they come from and what is below the surface of the conflict or "poor communication"
-If the couple consents, video recording of the couples counselling sessions with play back in the following session to review non-verbal communication patterns
- Individual sessions to learn the attachment needs of each side and then combined sessions to bring it together
- Psychoeducation around the Gottman principles of the safe relationship house, four horseman/how to stop them and love maps. The Gottman Institute has a wonderful FREE application called the Gottman Card Decks if you would like to check that out in the app store or google play store.
- A review of our past conditioning, attachment styles, important relationships that we may be mimicking in the present and how to release ourselves from these ways of being.
- Psychoeducation around the pursuer/withdrawer pattern and demon dialogues from an EFT lens.
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