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What You Need to Know About Couples Counselling/Therapy

March 16, 2022 - by rosalina yuen

At Ros Yuen Psychology, the psychologist will utilise scientifically supported methods to help you decrease conflict, increase emotional closeness, enhance appreciation and interest, reduce resentment and loneliness and increase the safety and stability in your relationship. I will do this by teaching you relationship skills to

  • communicate your needs effectively
  • problem-solve together, to learn the difference between solvable issues and perpetual issues
  • understand and appreciate each other’s shared values and interests and hoped-for dreams
  • and importantly, to make room for differences.

How you can benefit from therapy

All couples want to improve their communication, to communicate as openly and trustingly as they once did. Some have never allowed themselves to be known and have ‘hidden’ from their partners and are now lonely in a co-existing relationship. In a world that is increasingly fractured, having a supportive partner who has your back has never been more sought after.

Here are some common problems that present in couples counselling:

My Approach to Couples Therapy

I begin with an assessment of safety from interpartner violence (IPV) which, contrary to popular belief, is often bi-directional. Risk factors have to be carefully assessed and monitored for couples therapy to commence. Couple therapy may be indicated for couples presenting with low-level situational violence who seek to stay together. 

A fundamental assumption of therapy is that each person brings their own anxieties, fears, hopes and expectations, in forming the couple bond. With attention to each partner’s psychology and needs and through the exploration of unconscious processes and modification of communication processes, we will enhance your understanding of each other’s internal lives and the relationship that you co-create. You will learn to ask each other for what’s important to you and repair when the relationship bond breaks as you inevitably disappoint one another. You will learn to feel safe enough to take risks in your relationship and ask for what you need and hear your partner’s emotional call. And to have fun.

The task of the first stage is to de-escalate the negative conflict pattern, identify and reframe the attachment issues which will help you see how you and your partner’s insecurities and fears are hurting the couple bond. You will learn to be emotionally available, empathetic, and engaged with each other, strengthening the attachment bond and broadening the safe haven between you. The next stage is to restructure the relationship so that each of you learn to share your feelings and show acceptance and compassion for the other. This helps you become more responsive to each other and reduce the conflict. You will learn to express deep, underlying emotions from a place of vulnerability and ask for your needs to be met. The last stage is to consolidate new communication strategies and practice the new interactional skills. In this stage, you will appreciate how you and your partner have changed your interaction patterns. These stages are non-linear and if new escalations emerge, we will go through the stages again.

What are some early warning signs?

If you have noticed the following, schedule an appointment:

  • Arguments that go nowhere
  • Suspected infidelity
  • Haven’t made love for some time
  • Unexplained behavioural changes that make you feel shut out.

Horst, K., Stith, R., & Spencer, C. (2017) “Intimate partner violence” Chapter 44, pp.453-464.

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