Couples therapy (also couples' counseling, marriage counseling, or marriage therapy) attempts to improve romantic relationships and resolve interpersonal conflicts.
Marriage counseling originated in Germany in the 1920s as part of the eugenics movement. [ citation needed ]The first institutes for marriage counseling in the United States began in the 1930s, partly in response to Germany's medically directed, racial purification marriage counseling centres. It was promoted by prominent American eugenicists such as Paul Popenoe, who directed the American Institute of Family Relations until 1976, and Robert Latou Dickinson and by birth control advocates such as Abraham and Hannah Stone who wrote A Marriage Manual in 1935 and were involved with Planned Parenthood. Other founders in the United States include Lena Levine and Margaret Sanger.
It wasn't until the 1950s that therapists began treating psychological problems in the context of the family.Relationship counseling as a discrete, professional service is thus a recent phenomenon. Until the late 20th century, the work of relationship counseling was informally fulfilled by close friends, family members, or local religious leaders. Psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors and social workers have historically dealt primarily with individual psychological problems in a medical and psychoanalytic framework. In many less technologically advanced cultures around the world today, the institution of family, the village or group elders fulfil the work of relationship counseling. Today marriage mentoring mirrors those cultures.
With increasing modernization or westernization in many parts of the world and the continuous shift towards isolated nuclear families, the trend is towards trained and accredited relationship counselors or couple therapists. Sometimes volunteers are trained by either the government or social service institutions to help those who are in need of family or marital counseling. Many communities and government departments have their own team of trained voluntary and professional relationship counselors. Similar services are operated by many universities and colleges, sometimes staffed by volunteers from among the student peer group. Some large companies maintain a full-time professional counseling staff to facilitate smoother interactions between corporate employees, to minimize the negative effects that personal difficulties might have on work performance.
Increasingly there is a trend toward professional certification and government registration of these services. This is in part due to the presence of duty of care issues and the consequences of the counselor or therapist's services being provided in a fiduciary relationship.See also alienation of affection.
It is estimated that nearly half of all married couples get divorced and about one in five marriages experience distress at some time. Challenges with affection, communication, disagreements and fears of divorce are some of the most common reasons couples reach out for help. Couples who are dissatisfied with their relationship may turn to a variety of sources for help including online courses, self-help books, retreats, workshops, and couples counseling.
Before a relationship between individuals can begin to be understood, it is important to recognize and acknowledge that each person, including the counselor, has a unique personality, perception, set of values and history. Individuals in the relationship may adhere to different and unexamined value systems. Institutional and societal variables (like the social, religious, group and other collective factors) which shape a person's nature and behavior are considered in the process of counseling and therapy. A tenet of relationship counseling is that it is intrinsically beneficial for all the participants to interact with each other and with society at large with optimal amounts of conflict. A couple's conflict resolution skills seem to predict divorce rates.
Most relationships will get strained at some time, resulting in a failure to function optimally and produce self-reinforcing, maladaptive patterns. These patterns may be called "negative interaction cycles." There are many possible reasons for this, including insecure attachment, ego, arrogance, jealousy, anger, greed, poor communication/understanding or problem solving, ill health, third parties and so on.
Changes in situations like financial state, physical health, and the influence of other family members can have a profound influence on the conduct, responses and actions of the individuals in a relationship.
Often it is an interaction between two or more factors, and frequently it is not just one of the people who are involved that exhibit such traits. Relationship influences are reciprocal: it takes each person involved to make and manage problems.
A viable solution to the problem and setting these relationships back on track may be to reorient the individuals' perceptions and emotions - how one looks at or responds to situations and feels about them. Perceptions of and emotional responses to a relationship are contained within an often unexamined mental map of the relationship, also called a love map by John Gottman. These can be explored collaboratively and discussed openly. The core values they comprise can then be understood and respected or changed when no longer appropriate. This implies that each person takes equal responsibility for awareness of the problem as it arises, awareness of their own contribution to the problem and making some fundamental changes in thought and feeling.
The next step is to adopt conscious, structural changes to the inter-personal relationships and evaluate the effectiveness of those changes over time.
Indeed, "typically for those close personal relations, there is a certain degree in 'interdependence' - which means that the partners are alternately mutually dependent on each other. As a special aspect of such relations, something contradictory is put outside: the need for intimacy and for autonomy."
"The common counterbalancing satisfaction these both needs, intimacy and autonomy, leads to alternately satisfaction in the relationship and stability. But it depends on the specific developing duties of each partner in every life phase and maturity".
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Two methods of couples therapy focus primarily on the process of communicating. The most commonly used method is active listening, used by the late Carl Rogers and Virginia Satir, and recommended by Harville Hendrix in Getting the Love You Want. More recently, a method called "Cinematic Immersion" has been developed by Warren Farrell in Women Can't Hear What Men Don't Say. Each helps couples learn a method of communicating designed to create a safe environment for each partner to express and hear feelings.
When the Munich Marital Study discovered active listening to not be used in the long run,Warren Farrell observed that active listening did a better job creating a safe environment for the criticizer to criticize than for the listener to hear the criticism. The listener, often feeling overwhelmed by the criticism, tended to avoid future encounters. He hypothesized that we were biologically programmed to respond defensively to criticism, and therefore the listener needed to be trained in-depth with mental exercises and methods to interpret as love what might otherwise feel abusive. His method is Cinematic Immersion.
After 30 years of research into marriage, John Gottman has found that healthy couples almost never listen and echo each other's feelings naturally. Whether miserable or radiantly happy, couples said what they thought about an issue, and "they got angry or sad, but their partner's response was never anything like what we were training people to do in the listener/speaker exercise, not even close."
Such exchanges occurred in less than 5 percent of marital interactions and they predicted nothing about whether the marriage would do well or badly. What's more, Gottman noted, data from a 1984 Munich study demonstrated that the (reflective listening) exercise itself didn't help couples to improve their marriages. To teach such interactions, whether as a daily tool for couples or as a therapeutic exercise in empathy, was a clinical dead end.
By contrast, emotionally focused therapy for couples (EFT-C) is based on attachment theory and uses emotion as the target and agent of change. Emotions bring the past alive in rigid interaction patterns, which create and reflect absorbing emotional states. As one of its founders, Sue Johnson says,
Forget about learning how to argue better, analysing your early childhood, making grand romantic gestures, or experimenting with new sexual positions. Instead, recognize and admit that you are emotionally attached to and dependent on your partner in much the same way that a child is on a parent for nurturing, soothing, and protection. From the book, "Hold Me Tight" by Sue Johnson, Page 6.
The most researched approach to couples therapy is behavioral couples therapy.It is a well established treatment for marital discord. This form of therapy has evolved into what is now called integrative behavioral couples therapy. Integrative behavioral couples therapy appears to be effective for 69% of couples in treatment, while the traditional model was effective for 50-60% of couples. At five-year follow-up, the marital happiness of the 134 couples who had participated in either integrative behavioral couples therapy or traditional couples therapy showed that 14% of relationships remained unchanged, 38% deteriorated, and 48% improved or recovered completely.
A review conducted in 2018 by Cochrane (organisation) states that the available evidence does not suggest that couples therapy is more or less effective than individual therapy for treating depression.
Licensed couple therapist may refer to a psychiatrist, clinical social workers, counseling psychologists, clinical psychologists, pastoral counsellors, marriage and family therapists, and psychiatric nurses.The duty and function of a relationship counselor or couples therapist is to listen, respect, understand and facilitate better functioning between those involved.
The basic principles for a counselor include:
As well as the above, the basic principles for a couples therapist also include:
Common core principles of relationship counseling and couples therapy are:
In both methods, the practitioner evaluates the couple's personal and relationship story as it is narrated, interrupts wisely, facilitates both de-escalation of unhelpful conflict and the development of realistic, practical solutions.[ citation needed ] The practitioner may meet each person individually at first but only if this is beneficial to both, is consensual and is unlikely to cause harm. Individualistic approaches to couple problems can cause harm. The counselor or therapist encourages the participants to give their best efforts to reorienting their relationship with each other. One of the challenges here is for each person to change their own responses to their partner's behaviour. Other challenges to the process are disclosing controversial or shameful events and revealing closely guarded secrets. Not all couples put all of their cards on the table at first. This can take time.
A novel development in the field of couples therapy has involved the introduction of insights gained from affective neuroscience and psychopharmacology into clinical practice.
There has been interest in use of the so-called love hormone – oxytocin – during therapy sessions, although this is still largely experimental and somewhat controversial.Some researchers have argued oxytocin has a general enhancing effect on all social emotions, since intranasal administration of oxytocin also increases envy and Schadenfreude . Also, oxytocin has also the potential for being abused in confidence tricks.
Although results are almost certainly significantly better when professional guidance is utilized (see especially family therapy), numerous attempts at making the methodologies available generally via self-help books and other media are available. In the last few years, it has become increasingly popular for these self-help books to become popularized and published as an e-book available on the web, or through content articles on blogs and websites. The challenges for individuals utilizing these methods are most commonly associated with that of other self-help therapies or self-diagnosis.
Using modern technologies such as Skype VoIP conferencing to interact with practitioners are also becoming increasingly popular for their added accessibility as well as discarding any existing geographic barriers. Entrusting in the performance and privacy of these technologies may pose concerns despite the convenient structure, especially compared to the comfort of in-person meetings.
Some resources include:
Differing psychological theories play an important role in determining how effective relationship counseling is, especially when it concerns homosexual/bisexual clients. Some experts tout cognitive behavioral therapy as the tool of choice for intervention while many rely on acceptance and commitment therapy or cognitive analytic therapy.One major progress in this area is the fact that "marital therapy" is now referred to as "couples therapy" in order to include individuals who are not married or those who are engaged in same sex relationships. Most relationship issues are shared equally among couples regardless of sexual orientation, but LGBT clients additionally have to deal with heteronormativity, homophobia and both socio-cultural and legal discrimination. Individuals may experience relational ambiguity from being in different stages of the coming out process or having an HIV serodiscordant relationship. Often, same-sex couples do not have as many role models of successful relationships as opposite-sex couples. In many jurisdictions committed LGBT couples desiring a family are denied access to assisted reproduction, adoption and fostering, leaving them childless, feeling excluded, other and bereaved. There may be issues with gender-role socialization that do not affect opposite-sex couples.
A significant number of men and women experience conflict surrounding homosexual expression within a mixed-orientation marriage.Couple therapy may include helping the clients feel more comfortable and accepting of same-sex feelings and to explore ways of incorporating same-sex and opposite-sex feelings into life patterns. Although a strong homosexual identity was associated with difficulties in marital satisfaction, viewing the same-sex activities as compulsive facilitated commitment to the marriage and to monogamy.
Romance or romantic love is an emotional feeling of love for, or a strong attraction towards another person, and the courtship behaviors undertaken by an individual to express those overall feelings and resultant emotions.
Counseling psychology is a psychological specialty that encompasses research and applied work in several broad domains: counseling process and outcome; supervision and training; career development and counseling; and prevention and health. Some unifying themes among counseling psychologists include a focus on assets and strengths, person–environment interactions, educational and career development, brief interactions, and a focus on intact personalities.
Contempt is a pattern of attitudes and behaviour, often towards an individual or group, but sometimes towards an ideology, which has the characteristics of disgust and anger.
The Internal Family Systems Model (IFS) is an integrative approach to individual psychotherapy developed by Richard C. Schwartz in the 1980s. It combines systems thinking with the view that the mind is made up of relatively discrete subpersonalities, each with its own unique viewpoint and qualities. IFS uses family systems theory to understand how these collections of subpersonalities are organized.
John Mordecai Gottman is an American psychological researcher and clinician who did extensive work over four decades on divorce prediction and marital stability. He is also an award-winning speaker, author, and a professor emeritus in psychology. He is known for his work on marital stability and relationship analysis through scientific direct observations, many of which were published in peer-reviewed literature. The lessons derived from this work represent a partial basis for the relationship counseling movement that aims to improve relationship functioning and the avoidance of those behaviors shown by Gottman and other researchers to harm human relationships. His work has also had a major impact on the development of important concepts on social sequence analysis. Gottman is a professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Washington. He and his wife, psychologist Julie Schwartz Gottman, co-founded and lead a relationship company and therapist training entity called The Gottman Institute.
Self-disclosure is a process of communication by which one person reveals information about themself to another. The information can be descriptive or evaluative, and can include thoughts, feelings, aspirations, goals, failures, successes, fears, and dreams, as well as one's likes, dislikes, and favorites.
A genogram is a pictorial display of a person's family relationships and medical history. It goes beyond a traditional family tree by allowing the user to visualize hereditary patterns and psychological factors that punctuate relationships. It can be used to identify repetitive patterns of behavior and to recognize hereditary tendencies.
A mental health counselor (MHC), or counselor, is a person who works with individuals and groups to promote optimum mental and emotional health. Such persons may help individuals deal with issues associated with addiction and substance abuse; family, parenting, and marital problems; stress management; self-esteem; and aging. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics distinguishes "Mental Health Counselors" from "Social Workers", "Psychiatrists", and "Psychologists".
Relationship education and premarital counseling promote practices and principles of premarital education, relationship resources, relationship restoration, relationship maintenance, and evidence-based marriage education.
Emotionally focused therapy and emotion-focused therapy (EFT) are a family of related approaches to psychotherapy with individuals, couples, or families. EFT approaches include elements of experiential therapy, systemic therapy, and attachment theory. EFT is usually a short-term treatment. EFT approaches are based on the premise that human emotions are connected to human needs, and therefore emotions have an innately adaptive potential that, if activated and worked through, can help people change problematic emotional states and interpersonal relationships. Emotion-focused therapy for individuals was originally known as process-experiential therapy, and it is still sometimes called by that name.
Sexuality can be inscribed in a multidimensional model comprising different aspects of human life: biology, reproduction, culture, entertainment, relationships and love.
In psychology, empathic accuracy is how accurately one person can infer the thoughts and feelings of another person. It was first introduced in conjunction with the term empathic inference, which was presented by psychologists William Ickes and William Tooke in 1988. Since then research on empathic accuracy has explored its relationship with the concepts of affect sharing and mentalizing. In order to accurately infer another's psychological state, one must be able to both share that state, and understand cognitively how to label that state (mentalizing). Neuroscience research has shown that brain activation associated with empathic accuracy overlaps with both the areas responsible for affect sharing and mentalizing.
Donald H. Baucom, Ph.D.(born 22 July 1949) is a clinical psychology faculty member at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. He is recognized for founding the field of Cognitive-Behavioral Couples Therapy. Baucom is also recognized as one of the top marital therapists and most prolific researchers in this field. Currently, Baucom's National Cancer Institute funded study, CanThrive, has the largest observationally coded sample of any couples study to date.
Behavioral marital therapy, sometimes called behavioral couples therapy, has its origins in behaviorism and is a form of behavior therapy. The theory is rooted in social learning theory and behavior analysis. As a model, it is constantly being revised as new research presents.
Family therapy, also referred to as couple and family therapy, marriage and family therapy, family systems therapy, and family counseling, is a branch of psychology that works with families and couples in intimate relationships to nurture change and development. It tends to view change in terms of the systems of interaction between family members.
Video recall in psychology is a research procedure used by clinicians to obtain an individual’s subjective understanding of their own interactions with others.
Marriage and health are closely related. Married people experience lower morbidity and mortality across such diverse health threats as cancer, heart attacks, and surgery. There are gender differences in these effects which may be partially due to men's and women's relative status. Most research on marriage and health has focused on heterosexual couples, and more work is needed to clarify the health effects on same-sex marriage. Simply being married, as well as the quality of one's marriage, has been linked to diverse measures of health. Research has examined the social-cognitive, emotional, behavioral and biological processes involved in these links.
Julie Schwartz Gottman is an American clinical psychologist, researcher, speaker, and author. Together with her husband and collaborator, John Gottman, she is the co-founder of The Gottman Institute - an organization dedicated to strengthening relationships through research-based products and programs. She is the co-creator of the Sound Relationship House Theory, Gottman Method Couples Therapy, and The Art and Science of Love weekend workshop for couples, among other programs. In addition to her internationally recognized clinical work, Julie Schwartz Gottman is the author or co-author of six books - Ten Lessons to Transform Your Marriage, And Baby Makes Three, 10 Principles for Doing Effective Couples Therapy, The Man’s Guide to Women, The Marriage Clinic Casebook, and The Science of Couples and Family Therapy. She is also the co-author of over 30 peer-reviewed journal articles.
The Cascade Model of Relational Dissolution is a relational communications theory that proposes four critically negative behaviors that lead to the breakdown of marital and romantic relationships. This model is the work of psychological researcher John Gottman, a professor at the University of Washington and founder of The Gottman Institute and his research partner Robert W. Levenson. This theory focuses on the negative influence of verbal and nonverbal communication habits on the success and/or failure of marriages and other relationships. Gottman's model uses a metaphor that compares the four negative communication styles that lead to the breakdown of a relationship to the biblical Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, wherein each behavior, or horseman, compounds the problems of the previous, leading to the total breakdown of communication in a relationship.
The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work is a 1999 book by John Gottman, which details seven principles for couples to improve their marriage and the "Four Horseman" to watch out for, that usually herald the end of a marriage. The book was based on Gottman's research in his Family Research Lab, known as the "Love Lab", where he observed more than 650 couples over 14 years.
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