Who can benefit from Couples Therapy?
All couples can benefit from couples therapy. You do not need to be in crisis to seek out couples therapy. However, many people do seek out couples therapy when they find themselves at a cross roads. At whatever point in your relationship journey that you choose to seek out couples therapy, we are here to support you in figuring out a healthy way forward. It is inevitable that in every relationship, at some point, conflict will arise. The couples who thrive the most are not those who have an absence of conflict but rather those couples who have the tools to effectively communicate with one another during the conflict and arrive at a place that both partners can feel at peace about. In couples therapy, our therapists ensure that each partner is given a voice, that both partners learn how to effectively listen and compassionately respond to one another and that a healthy way forward can be established for both parties.
What treatment approaches do we use in Couples Therapy?
Our therapists use Gottman Method and Emotion Focused Therapy when working with couples as these are evidence based treatments that are empirically supported to help couples improve their relationship.
We offer therapy for couples of every orientation utilizing primarily Gottman Method Therapy which is based on John Gottman’s 40 years of research with couples. The Gottman Method is practical and skills-based—empowering partners to improve their communication, deepen their connection, and better-manage conflict.
Our therapists are also trained in Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT) based off of the work of Susan Johnson. Emotion-Focused Therapy utilizes attachment theory to look at patterns in the relationship and help create a more secure and trusting bond between the couple.
Gottman Method Therapy:
Gottman Method Therapy, pioneered by John Gottman, is based on 40+ years of research. Gottman Method Therapy focuses on “increasing closeness and friendship behaviors, addressing conflict productively, and building a life of shared meaning together.” Skills are taught and tailored towards the couples unique challenges.
Gottman says the following:
The key to a satisfying relationship for both partners depends on 3 things:
- What the unsolvable issues are
- How partners choose to discuss and manage these issues
- Whether both partners can accept and learn to live with theunsolvable issues
- You build intimacy by self disclosure and turning towards your partner
- Masters of relationships are gentle with one another
- Build a culture of appreciation and respect with humor NOT sarcasmand warmth
- Turn towards your partner’s bids (attempts for connection)
- Shared humor and similar affection is psychologically soothing
- If you increase turning towards, humor will likely increase
- ONLY 6% of couples who don’t cuddle have a satisfying sex life
- 69% of issues in a relationship are unsolvable
- Women bring up relationship issues 80% of the time
- Couples who have sex more often are not actually happier
- The amount of cortisol and adrenaline secreted predict the course of relationships
- The way conflict starts predicts the way it ends 96% of the time
- The only difference between a happy couple and an unhappy couple, are how well they fight
- 67% of newlyweds have a drop in relationship satisfaction
- Couples need 20 minutes to calm down to be able to listen to eachother
- Fondness, admiration and warmth around how they met, or their story is a high predictor of a lasting relationship
- Need a 5:1 positive interactions (humor, empathy, validation)
- The amount of negative affect is much more powerful in predicting a divorce than the amount of positive affect BUT escalation of conflict is especially bad and a higher predictor of divorce
- Elevated heart rate predicts decline in relationships
- Men who kiss their wives before they leave for work live 5 years longer than those who don’t (kiss needs to last 6 seconds!
The Four Horsemen according to Gottman are: Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, and Stonewalling. If these are present in your relationship, you could greatly benefit from Couples Therapy with a Gottman therapist.
Emotion Focused Therapy
EFT or Emotionally Focused Therapy provides is a leading edge, empirically validated form of therapy that provides couples with a structured path to address and resolve their relationship issues. Dr. Sue Johnson and Dr. Les Greenberg pioneered EFT over 40 years ago to help partners get back to a place of harmony within their relationship. Along the way, they also incorporated attachment theory into the therapy model. Research studies have found that find that 70-75% of couples who work with an EFT couples therapist move from distress to recovery and around 90% show significant enhancement of their relationship. The therapy is based on clear conceptualizations of martial issues that are supported by empirical research on marital discord and attachment theory
9 steps of EFT Couples Therapy
STAGE 1: ASSESSMENT AND CYCLE DE-ESCALATION
1. Identify primary issues of concern. Set goals. Then, assess your relationship history.
2. Identify negative patterns in your interactions. Work with your therapist to trace past patterns.
3. Recognize previously unacknowledged attachment-related emotions. Identify the feelings “underneath” your behavioral patterns and discuss this “underneath” with your partner.
4. With help from your therapist, reframe all of the above into categories. Especially relevant to your relationship are negative cycles, underlying feelings, and attachment needs categories. Subsequently, use this time to assess your emotional cycle and identify triggers each step of the way.
STAGE 2: CHANGING INTERACTIONAL POSITIONS AND CREATING NEW BONDING EVENTS
5. Partners voice their attachment needs and define whatever emotions have been previously disowned.
6. Listen and accept. While each partner responds with compassion to the other partner’s expressed needs and emotions, sometimes those needs and emotions take you by surprise and require processing.
7. Your therapist coaches you on how you’re expressing your attachment needs, your fears, and your new interactional goals. In addition, couples work more deeply with listening and acceptance. As a result, they work more purposefully towards the goal of “being there” for each other.
STAGE 3: CONSOLIDATION/ INTEGRATION
8. Work on ways to apply your new communication styles and techniques while discussing old problems to create new solutions. This includes time outside of the therapy session environment. Then, it’s time to re-visit issues that have been put on hold.
9. Consolidate. Blend all your developing skills with the awareness of new closeness and deeper bonds. Begin to work together on future plans. Also, don’t forget to celebrate your efforts. Create rituals too. In addition, be sure to set up safeguards to address concerns as they arise.
Key moves and moments in the change process have been mapped into nine steps and three change events.
Goals of Emotion Focused Therapy
- To expand and re-organize key emotional responses – the music of the attachment dance.
- To create a shift in partners’ interactional positions and initiate new cycles of interaction.
- To foster the creation of a secure bond between partners
If you are looking to work with a couples therapy counselor in Chicago or anywhere in Illinois, contact us today.