When the bond between partners becomes close enough, they become
particularly vulnerable to each other. Because of that, partners
tend to evoke feelings in each other that go back to the time
when they were the most vulnerable, namely to their childhood.
We tend to bring to our partners all the expectations of ourselves
and others that we developed as children. If those around us were
nurturing, we tend to approach our partners with trust. If our
caregivers were belittling, we tend to hear our partners as overly
critical. In this situation, one — or both partners can
feel unheard and misunderstood. When this happens, people can
go into a defence-attack mode.
How do I know if we need Couples' Therapy?
Couples experience conflict inevitably. If the old feelings evoked
were of trust and care, the couple will weather challenges well.
However, many couples will end up in an impasse if the expectations
elicit mistrust, fear, and the war dynamic of attack and defence.
Prolonged war can lead to loss of hope, and to bitterness. Couples'
Therapy can be helpful in this case.
How does Couples' Therapy work?
In Couples' Therapy, we try to create a safe-enough space to
allow for cooling of the emotional temperature and then for the
shift from an attack and defence mode, to one of mutual empathy
and respect. In this calmer space, the couple can discuss their
conflicts or issues and hear each other in a fresh way. Having
the experience of being able to resolve conflict while in the
presence of the therapist, may create a new expectation for success
for the couple, which they can carry over into their day-to-day
Is Couples' Therapy the correct choice for us right now?
Many couples at an impasse experience the war dynamic and some power imbalance
issues but there is enough flexibility and openness to be able
to shift over to a new framework for the relationship.
Others may find that their deep-seated personal issues prevent
them from being able to make these needed shifts — and they
may decide that they need to do individual work first.
What to expect in Couples' Therapy
Couples' therapy starts with an assessment phase which usually
takes four sessions. This consists of an initial 90 minute long
couples' session, followed by two individual 60 minute sessions,
one for each partner. Finally, there is a 60 minute joint couples'
session which includes feedback and decision making about the
Have questions about Couples' Therapy? Please feel free to contact me.