Frequently asked questions about couple therapy
Thoughts before going to couple therapy
It is understandable, if stressed couples are cautious and reserved about getting help from therapists. This FAQ lists common concerns couples might have about therapy and the reasons why it is worth it to give EFT (emotional focused therapy) couple therapy a try.
Most of my clients (individuals or couples) have a background as expats. In addition to that most of the couples have an intercultural background in their relationship and live in a foreign country. All these factors can cause extra stress for the individual or the relationship with the partner or family. The individual or couple struggle with questions such as: How much do we need to integrate into the culture of the host country? How do I define my own identity as a parent in a foreign country? An additive factor can also be when you are raising children. You can ask yourself: What are my own values, which I want to pass on to my children?
Will the therapist judge me and take sides?
The opposite is the case. A well trained Emotional Focused couple therapist will recognize how both partner contribute to their circle of disconnection and stress in the relationship. Invariably the trained therapist will help each of the two, in the relationship, to understand his/her role in the couples’ distress.
Is our situation not already hopeless?
Even long lasting relationship problems can be resolved with EFT therapy. The intensity of anger and distress does not mean that the relationship can´t improve. The only case in which EFT does not help, is when one or both partners are so disengaged, that they are not willing to even try to work on the relationship any more.
Is couple therapy not a waste of time and does it work at all?
Many therapists who see couples are not trained in effective couple´s work. Moreover, research shows that there is the risk that therapy is not helpful at all. However, EFT therapy has years of research that shows its effectiveness in helping couples. Furthermore follow up research shows that the improvement is long lasting. EFT is one of a handful couple therapies, which is recognized by the American Psychological Association (APA). A trained EFT therapist is guided by a road map that has one of the strongest track records in helping distressed couples.
Doesn´t it get worse, when we talk about our issues and would the therapist recommend to us to split up?
Many couples have made the experience, that talking about their problems made things worse in the past. Therefore it makes sense that they have concerns about talking about their issues. However, a well-trained therapist knows how to create a safe space, which helps to discuss problems more productively. The therapist helps the couple to understand how their relationship has gone wrong and guides them in repairing their relationship, as long as they are willing to try. The decision whether to stay in the relationship or to break up belongs only to the couple.
Isn´t it more effective when my partner gets fixed first before we start with couple’s work?
Research shows that successful couple therapy can reduce many symptoms in the individual like depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress and so on. This is due to a more secure communication and a supportive relationship can reduce stress in both partners, when one is dealing with a psychological issue. Of course it can be useful to look for additional support. However, couple therapy might be the best way to start.
Some of this content was published on the ICEEFT listserv by Ruth Jampol, see also my blog article on the subject