Envelope with a heart coming out of it that says "8 benefits of couples therapy"

by Brandie Lyday, 12/15/22

Couples come into family therapy for many different reasons. There may have been relationship violation, like an affair or secret spending, difficulty with parenting decisions, increasingly harmful arguments, or a lack of satisfying sex. While this is just the tip of the iceberg for why a couple may seek therapy, the overall goals of couples therapy remains the same: Increase communication and connection while healing relational hurts. 

Starting couples therapy can be a scary thing, especially if you’ve never experienced it before. It is normal (and expected) to be hesitant or nervous leading up to the first appointment. Attending the first session is one part of the solution! It shows that you are acknowledging there is room for improvement and willing to work towards change. 

While you and your partner(s) are in therapy, you will talk about a lot of topics. You’ll listen to a lot of topics. Feelings will come up. Your therapist will help you hold all of that, and through the process, you will experience some of the benefits of couples therapy. 


1. Space to be heard and validated

Couples therapy allows all partners to voice their perspectives, and what is helpful about that, is that the therapist will help you be able to hear other perspectives – even if it doesn’t line up with what you’ve experienced. Part of giving each perspective space to just be is that it doesn’t have to be accepted as everyone’s truth. All perspectives are valid, and all perspectives are welcome. What you’ve experienced is true for you, and the same goes for your partner. 


2. Gaining a deeper understanding

When couples are able to set their own experience aside momentarily and view how things look from their partner’s position (remember – you don’t have to agree with it, just look at it), that’s when couples can start the process of healing. It often leads to a deeper understanding of why your partner does what they do. Maybe it’s an engrained response from childhood, because of an uncomfortable emotion, or our body’s inherent fight or flight response. When we learn about the contributing factors for our partner, we understand them on a deeper level (and most of the time, when our partner has a big response, we may have triggered it, but it’s usually not about us at all).  


3. Identifying our patterns

One technique that is often used in family therapy, is mapping the event or interaction. It sounds strange to draw it out and re-hash it in a sense, but it can be helpful in identifying the process or “pattern.” What we find in family therapy, is that patterns don’t have a conventional starting or stopping, but that they are ongoing and repetitive sometimes leading to feeling “stuck.” 

For example, a disagreement happens, something turns it into a BIG argument, you both are activated and say hurtful things, somehow the argument ends, you might be able to repair and apologize but also life goes on with or without the argument’s resolution. Things go back to a “normal”… until another disagreement happens, something turns it into a BIG argument, and you get the picture. This pattern is important to identify, because once you know the pattern, you can choose something different. It’s like taking the off ramp instead of driving to argumentTown. This is something you and your partner have in common – you both have been to argumentTown too many times, and you’d rather go somewhere else! Couples therapy will help you and your partner notice when you’re heading towards argumentTown, find those off ramps, and create new roads to more appealing places. 


4. Talking about the unspoken

You might be thinking “why is this a benefit?” or “how is that going to help anything?” Well, so much is communicated without words. We can pick up on someone’s mood by the way they move or the tone and volume of their voice. We are so smart and observant that we are able to “read between the lines.” We can hypothesize the relationship between an empty ice cream container and our child with a sick tummy. This way of thinking is a skill that can greatly serve us… and you know what can happen when you assume. In couples therapy, we will talk about the spaces between the lines, how we interpret the relationship between the empty ice cream and an upset stomach, and we will invite each other to enlighten us with more information. Couples therapy is like turning on the lights in a dark room in which you’ve been stubbing your toe over and over again. With the help of your therapist, you and your partner can turn on the lights to see the journey ahead. 

To learn 4 more benefits of couples therapy, stay tuned for part 2 coming soon!


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