Married couple reconciling in counselling

COUPLES THERAPY

WHY COUPLES THERAPY

Relationship therapy is a brave step and often the last hope for many of us. Before coming to therapy we usually try very hard to make sense of our relationship distress. But the real problem often is hidden beneath the surface. Whatever we argue about; money, in-laws, sex, time together, children, house chores etc...What we really ask each other is: Are you there for me?  Am I important to you? Can I count on you? Will you be there when I need you? Do I matter? Can I reach you? Do you need me? 

Losing a connection with our partner puts our security at risk. When it happens, our arguments become more frequent and much more painful. We develop a pattern, a vicious cycle that drives us further and further apart. 

But if it's about connection, why don't we just give each other what we need? After all, we love each other so much. Unfortunately, often we give each other very conflicted and unclear messages about what we really need even though we might think it's obvious. We don't feel safe to show how much we care and long for each other. And we don't know how to speak in attachment terms. 

During EFT sessions, partners start to experience each other differently and learn a new "language" that both of them understand. The goal is to create a new successful emotional bond full of intimacy and trust.

COUPLES THERAPY CAN HELP WITH:

  • Frequent / recurring conflicts

  • Unhealthy patterns 

  • Being stuck in argument

  • Traumatic experiences (affairs, long separation, betrayal)

  • Lack of emotional intimacy

  • Feeling disconnected

  • Disbalance (one partner wants more intimacy than another)

  • Depression or anxiety in the relationship

WHAT IS EMOTIONALLY FOCUSED THERAPY?

Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT) is an attachment-based, structured and transparent approach. It is built on the science of human emotions and the application of attachment theory to adult love. EFT focuses on repairing an injured connection and ineffective communication. It creates a secure emotional bond. It explores why partners get stuck and what negative patterns prevent them from getting closer to each other. 

EFT is the approach that works.  It is clinically proven and one of the most researched and validated approaches to couples therapy at the moment. Studies show that 70-73% of couples report that their issues are resolved and 90% of couples report significant improvement in their relationship. Couples who completed Emotionally Focused Therapy are more resilient and unlikely to ever going back to their old patterns. They report long lasting change in several areas of their relationship. 

"Adult love relationships are nature's offer of a second chance to grow into security."

S. M. Johnson

HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE?

The therapy process usually takes around 20 sessions.

 

It can take longer (30-40 sessions) if there is a relational trauma involved (such as an affair, betrayal and abandonment); one / both partners are trauma survivors (abuse, illness) or suffer from PTSD.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

EFT is a structured and transparent approach that involves 3 stages. 

Stage 1. Identifying the trap

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   Therapy goals on Stage 1: 

  • To identify and become aware of the damaging pattern (cycle) 

  • To uncover the real emotions and meanings hidden behind words and actions  

  • Defuse conflict and tension ​

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The longer partners feel disconnected from each other, the more negative their interactions become. After some time these negative interactions develop into a pattern, a cycle that keeps repeating itself, trapping the couple despite their efforts to stop it. 

 

By this point, the whole relationship is affected. Partners feel resentful, consumed by catastrophic fears and doubts that lead to emotional distance. Unfortunately, most couples are not aware of the pattern that has taken hold of their relationship and struggle to find an explanation. Instead, they turn to one of two strategies: blame or withdraw.

Any attempts at this point to teach couple negotiation or communication skills will most likely fail as it addresses symptoms rather than the real cause.

 

The reality is, it doesn't matter what you are fighting about; "what" is not important. The negative cycle partners co-create "is not just a bad habit, it reflects a deeper underlying reality: such couples are starving emotionally" (S. Johnson).

At this stage of couple therapy, we will get the heart of the matter in relationship distress and uncover the cycle that traps you.  Go beyond immediate reactions into deeper feelings, explore helpful and unhelpful strategies and defuse arguments. This stage prepares a couple for deeper work on Stage Two which builds and strengthens the emotional bond. 

Stage 2. Building emotional intimacy

Helping Hand

   Therapy goals on Stage 2:​​

  • Deep understanding of each partner

  • Moving into softer, more vulnerable emotions instead of defensive silence or attack

  • Learning to reach out and respond

  • Developing new ways of being with each other

  • Building trust and secure bond

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Stage Two transforms the relationship. It creates a foundation for a long-lasting change in the way partners connect with each other. 

During this stage each partner moves into being more accessible, attentive, emotionally responsive and deeply engage with one another. They create connections and remedy for future challenges. Some couples experience the bond they never had even at the beginning of their relationship. 

Partners start to see themselves and each other differently,"they find themselves feeling new emotions and responding in new ways. They can now take more risks and reach for more intimacy" (S. Johnson).  

Stage Two is when the relationship is moving from shaky to solid ground. Securing a bond, trust, and strong emotional connection. Working on Stage Two prevents partners from being caught in painful conflicts and escalated arguments.

"Vulnerability is not about winning or losing. It’s having the courage to show up, to be present even when you can’t control the outcome"

Rene Brown

Stage 3. Moving Forward

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   Therapy goals on Stage 3:​​

  • Integrate what was achieved in Stages One and Two

  • Create specific steps to keep the relationship strong and to avoid relapse. 

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Time to review and celebrate! This is the final stage of our work together. It is also the shortest and the easiest one.

At this point, both of you can see the profound change you have both worked for in your relationship. You feel connected, secure and engaged. 

However, you might worry that you won't be able to keep it that way after therapy is finished. This final stage provides the answer to this question. 

At Stage Three, you will integrate everything you achieved at previous stages and most importantly, together, we will draw a map with specific steps of how to take your love into the future and keep the connection and emotional intimacy alive. 

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