The most common questions I get when first meeting with couples are, “What will couples therapy be like?” and “Can you help us communicate better?” Underneath these questions are often concerns that a therapist will take sides and leave one member unheard, that therapy will exacerbate the problem or lead to a break up. Worries when starting something new are natural. I find the best way to ease concern is to demystify the process.
As a couples therapist I strive to make space for each partner to feel heard in the room. I use a relational approach with couples that includes an exploration of context, culture, and family history in order to gain an understanding of what is not working within the partnership. I believe that change can occur with insight and action, therefore I take time to explore and understand what is not working while also taking an active approach by assigning homework. Homework helps strengthen techniques practiced in session and progression toward goals.
In order to address communication issues I often help couples map out their vulnerability cycle. The vulnerability cycle is a term coined by Michele Scheinkman, LCSW and Mona Fishbane, PHD . Awareness of this cycle helps couples better understand what gets triggered for them during disagreements while creating more empathy for one another. Below is a link to a podcast where Michele expands on the cycle and how she helps couples work through difficulties.