For many people, going to couples’ therapy and realizing its benefits firsthand is satisfying enough. Others, however, are interested in learning the why behind counseling, including why and how certain methods work. If you’re considering therapy for yourself and your loved one, here are some marriage counseling techniques you may encounter.
The developmental model of couples’ therapy looks to develop each partner independently, in addition to fostering the growth of the relationship as a whole. This approach acknowledges the fact that many relationships evolve naturally over time as they go through developmental stages. Since partners don’t always evolve at the same pace or in the same ways, challenges may arise naturally over the course of time. When partners are in different stages, conflict may develop.
The specific techniques used by the therapist may depend on which phase the couple is in. The differentiation phase, for example, occurs when couples begin to acknowledge their differences. In this phase, the therapist might normalize these differences to support long-term growth. Other strategies used in this model may include asking open-ended questions and using targeted exercises to uncover emotional vulnerability.
The developmental model was established by Dr. Ellyn Bader and Dr. Peter Pearson in 1984 and is taught through The Couples Institute®.
The Gottman Method of couples’ therapy is based on a relationship assessment and leverages research-based interventions. During the assessment, the therapist performs both a joint session as well as individual interviews. Then, the therapeutic interventions begin, in which the therapist guides the couple to strengthen and rekindle the friendship, develop effective ways to manage conflict, and creation of shared meaning in their relationship.
In this method, partners are taught to replace negative patterns with beneficial interactions. They also work through any past, unresolved issues that may linger. Specific techniques are employed to help them strengthen their emotional connection and break down natural defenses which can get in the way of effective communication and connection.
The Gottman Method is outlined in the book “The 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work “ by Dr. John Gottmanand is taught by The Gottman Institute.
Relational Life Therapy
Relational life therapy focuses on a new, modern approach to marriage. In Relational Life the counseling is working toward teaching couples how to be relational-how to relate to each other. Relational Life first takes a look at what method of relating is being used, how it’s working, and what would be a healthy, working approach to relating. Relational Life takes the previous patriarchal framework of marriage and teaches a more workable method based on mutual empathy and support. Relational Life therapy gets quick, deep, meaningful results.
Relational life therapy is outlined in the book “The New Rules of Marriage” by Terrence Real and is taught by the Relational Life Institute.