What is Couples Therapy like?
Hi everybody it’s Maggie O’Connor at Breakthrough MFT, helping you reach your “breakthrough moment”.
So you’ve made the brave decision to start couples therapy! You have visited multiple therapist websites at 2 a.m., you’ve maybe asked some friends for referrals; but you’re wondering about the investment of time and energy and frankly, money!
How long will this take?
Won’t we always need therapy if we need it now?
These are good questions and they should be asked!
Therapy is a lot like going on a road trip into uncharted territory. You and your partner are the travelers; you’re expert in yourselves and your relationship, and the therapist is the expert in the uncharted territory!
We know how to navigate an impasse, we know how to use momentum to move forward. We know how to recognize a bridge that’s been washed out by the river…
But it’s your journey, and it’s your phone call that gets us on the road.
Good couples therapy is not about rehashing the argument of the week; that would be a recipe for doing this forever!
Every couple has a negative cycle they fall into whenever they’re faced with a threat, conflict or distress…
The words your partner is speaking suddenly stop making sense, you start to feel anxious, angry – maybe even depressed. You get the sense like, ‘…oh God here we go again…’
But you don’t know how to make it stop; and so the words that are coming out of your mouth stop making sense, even if it’s just because you know you’ve said them a million times before and they haven’t really been effective – but you don’t know what else to do. So you get louder – or sometimes you just get quieter – you feel more desperate either way, you feel more distressed. You feel more hopeless and maybe there are tears, and eventually someone walks away… maybe both of you do…
And that’s what a good couples therapist already knows about your relationship. You have a cycle with your partner. We know that both of you make sense, we just have to figure out how.
What makes two people who are intelligent human beings, wired for connection – so unable to reach for each other in the dark? Once we’ve defined your unique cycle, you can use it as a road map for future conflict.
How long that takes is partly about how much damage has already been done and needs to be repaired, but mostly it has to do with how hard you want to work, both within and outside the sessions. It’s different for everybody, but it always starts with a phone call.
I’m Maggie O’Connor, hoping this helps you to ‘break on through’.