Key Takeaways

  • Couples therapy is an effective and supportive strategy when partners want to improve their relationship
  • Couples learn new skills and ways of communicating with the help of a skilled guide
  • How to tell when it’s time to reach out for relationship counseling
  • Getting the most out of couples therapy (hint: you get out of it what you put in)

Understanding Couples Therapy

We are passionate about relationships and helping you make them better. Couples therapy in San Jose, offered online or in person, helps people improve the way they are showing up for their partner and their relationship. Facilitated by specialized mental health professionals, couples therapy is designed to address various relationship issues, and thereby improve the quality of the partnership.

Couples therapy helps relationships of all ages and structures:

  • Couples going through life transitions, like having children or children leaving the home
  • New couples wanting to build a strong foundation
  • Polycules of all types who are longing for peaceful and beneficial connection
  • Engaged couples preparing for marriage
  • Struggling couples needing relief and intervention
  • Unhappy couples deciding whether to end the relationship or not

The Goals of Couples Therapy

Your couples therapist will endeavor to help you improve the communication and connection in your partnership. They will guide you toward healthier ways to interact and engage in the relationship. 

The goals of couples therapy are:

  • To uncover unhealthy patterns in your relationship
  • Teach you skills and techniques to relate better to each other
  • Clarify relationship goals and intentions
  • Improve connection and intimacy
  • Rebuild loving bonds

According to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT), 75% of couples who participate in counseling see improvements in their relationship, and 90% see improvements in their mental or physical health. We can help.

When to Seek Couples Therapy

Couples therapy is a helpful resource any time a couple wants to improve and strengthen their relationship. Most couples seek therapy when communication breakdowns become frequent. This can manifest as difficulty in expressing feelings, misunderstandings, or feeling unheard by one’s partner.

Relationship therapy provides a platform to learn and practice effective communication skills, ensuring both partners feel valued and understood. It’s also an essential step when trust has been broken, for instance, due to infidelity or financial secrecy. In such situations, therapy offers a guided path towards healing and rebuilding trust, critical for the relationship’s longevity and health. 

It’s not limited to couples in crisis; many seek therapy as a proactive measure to strengthen their bond and improve understanding before issues become entrenched.

Types of Couples Therapy

Couples therapy encompasses various approaches, each tailored to address different relationship dynamics and issues. Your couples therapist will incorporate aspects of all of these methods to support you and your relationship:

  • Behavioral Couples Therapy (BCT), which focuses on changing negative behavior patterns and improving communication. 
  • The Gottman Method, developed by Drs. John and Julie Gottman uses research-based interventions to enhance relationship satisfaction. 
  • Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) is another popular approach, aiming to strengthen the emotional bond between partners by focusing on attachment needs and emotional responses. 
  • Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) centers on finding solutions and envisioning the future rather than digging into past issues. 

Each type of therapy offers unique tools and perspectives, allowing therapists to tailor their approach to the specific needs and circumstances of each couple.

We tailor our couples therapy sessions, using these and other methods, to suit the needs of your relationship.

The Role of a Couples Therapist

The role of a couples therapist is multifaceted, involving guidance, mediation, and support to help partners navigate their relationship’s complexities.

Our therapists are trained to listen impartially, understand deeply, and facilitate conversations that couples might find challenging to have on their own. They create a safe, confidential environment where both partners can express their thoughts and feelings without fear of judgment. 

A significant part of our role is to help couples identify and break negative patterns of interaction, develop better communication skills, and find effective ways to resolve conflicts.

We also provide tools and strategies for couples to continue their relationship growth outside of therapy sessions, helping to ensure lasting change and improvement.

What to Expect in a Therapy Session

Couples can expect that their first few sessions will be focused on getting to know each other, determining goals for therapy, and assessing baseline skills and connection. During this initial period, the therapist will also talk about confidentiality and may outline a structure or ground rules for sessions, to make sure each partner has a chance to feel heard and respected.

The therapist will also facilitate dialogues about any thoughts or feelings that either of the partners want to discuss. The therapist’s role is to help clarify misunderstandings and highlight underlying emotions, while creating a safe space for vulnerability.

Expect to engage in exercises or discussions that aim to uncover deeper relationship dynamics. It’s not unusual for sessions to stir up strong emotions, but the therapist is there to guide and support the process, ensuring a safe and constructive environment.

Throughout, the focus remains on understanding each other’s perspectives, improving communication, and working towards mutually agreed-upon goals.

Building Trust with Your Therapist

Building trust with your therapist is a critical component of effective couples therapy. This trust develops over time as the therapist demonstrates empathy, confidentiality, and impartiality. Therapists often begin by establishing a rapport with both partners, showing an understanding of each person’s viewpoint without taking sides. They provide a non-judgmental space where partners can share their feelings openly.

Trust also grows as couples see the therapist’s commitment to their relationship’s wellbeing, evidenced through consistent, respectful guidance and support.

It’s important for partners to feel that the therapist respects their values, understands their goals, and is committed to helping them achieve a healthier relationship. This trust lays the foundation for more open and honest communication during therapy sessions.

Key Techniques Used in Couples Counseling

Couples counseling employs various techniques tailored to the specific needs of each relationship. Our couples therapists are trained in a wide range of modalities. In couples counseling, some key approaches are:

  • Enhancing communication skills, which involves teaching couples effective ways to express their needs and listen to each other. Techniques like active listening, reflective speaking, and ‘I’ statements are common tools. 
  • Conflict Resolution strategies are also integral, helping couples navigate disagreements constructively without damaging the relationship. This may involve learning to identify triggers, managing emotional responses, and finding compromise. 
  • Behavioral Interventions are another cornerstone, aimed at changing detrimental patterns of behavior into positive interactions. 
  • Emotional Focused Therapy (EFT) techniques are used to strengthen the emotional bond, helping partners respond to each other’s needs with empathy. 
  • Additionally, techniques like Solution-Focused Therapy help couples envision a desired future and work towards it with concrete steps.

Each of these techniques contributes to fostering a healthier, more fulfilling relationship.

Addressing Specific Challenges in Relationships

Couples therapy is effective in addressing a wide range of specific challenges that relationships may face. These challenges can include 

  • communication breakdowns 
  • trust issues 
  • differences in parenting styles 
  • financial stressors 
  • life transitions. 

Couples therapy provides a safe space for partners to explore these issues, understand their impacts, and develop tailored strategies to navigate them effectively. By addressing these specific challenges head-on, couples therapy helps partners build a stronger, more resilient relationship.

Navigating Infidelity

Addressing and repairing after infidelity is a complex and sensitive issue in couples therapy. This process involves addressing the immediate emotional fallout, understanding the underlying reasons for the infidelity, and rebuilding trust.

Therapists guide couples through difficult conversations, helping them process feelings of betrayal, guilt, and hurt. The goal is to foster healing, establish new foundations of trust, and, if both partners are willing, work towards a renewed commitment to the relationship.

Coping with Substance Abuse or Misuse

When substance abuse is part of the relationship dynamic, couples therapy focuses on understanding the impact of the substance use on the relationship and supporting both partners. This approach involves addressing the challenges faced by the non-abusing partner, exploring how substance abuse has affected communication, trust, and emotional intimacy, and developing strategies for managing these issues.

The therapy often works in tandem with individual addiction treatment, aiming to support the recovery process and restore the health of the relationship. In general, it is difficult or impossible to build a strong, healthy relationship when substance abuse is continuing.

Couples therapy can help all kinds of couples to improve their relationship, be a better partner, and feel connected again. Reach out for help now, or we can ask any questions you may have. Find out more about the couples therapy we offer at /couples-therapy