What Are The Different Types Of Marriage Counseling?

At the beginning of a relationship with someone, the feelings of excitement can be wonderfully strong. Once you and your partner have committed to staying together in a monogamous relationship for a long period of time, there are bound to be conflicts that arise. When the conflicts begin to outweigh the peaceful times between you and your partner, it may be time to seek an unbiased voice of reason in the form of a therapist.

When it comes to therapy, there is no one-size-fits-all therapy plan. When you and your significant other make the choice to seek therapy, your therapist will help you find a plan that works best for you. Talkspace explains that while some therapy approaches focus on emotions, others ask the participants to reflect on past experiences to see how they impact current relationships. If you and your partner are willing to work with a therapist, there are three different types of methods the therapist may employ.

Imago and emotion focused therapy

One type of couples therapy is called emotion-focused therapy. According to Good Therapy, this approach partners emotions and identity. Its goal is to bring more awareness to people between their emotions and how they treat others. In this collaborative process, those in counseling are taught how to interpret their emotions and regulate them as well. Couples who seek this type of counseling learn to navigate their emotions and regulate them to improve communication within relationships.

Although each couple is different, this treatment is typically short-term. The Society of Clinical Psychology says it takes eight to 20 sessions as couples move through three different stages. Most of the energy and time for couples is spent in the first stage, where couples learn to create a place of peace outside of therapy. Stage two focuses on connection, and stage three is about reinforcing everything that was learned. This type of therapy works wonders when both participants are open to compassion for themselves and their partner.

In addition, Imago is another approach to therapy that asks each participant to reflect on the past to better communicate with their partner (via Psychology Today). This style of therapy was created in the 1980s by Harville Hendrix and Helen Hunt. They found that your experiences and emotions from your childhood do come back to impact your current relationships. The method focuses on how couples view their conflicts and helps them untangle the complex emotions that surround relationships.

The Gottman Method

The last method commonly used to help couples navigate their relationship issues is called the Gottman Method. It works to calm verbal conflicts and helps remove walls couples put up between themselves, according to The Gottman Institute. The overall goal is to promote the connection between partners, where each person employs empathy when addressing conflicts. This style of therapy asks that both partners focus in on their friendship, replacing negative patterns with positive interactions, explains Thriveworks.

No matter the style of therapy you pursue, it is helpful to have an outside, objective perspective that comes from therapy. Oftentimes couples get so caught up in past conflicts, making it difficult to move to a place of understanding, connection, and peace. By seeking therapy to work through issues that have bubbled up during the course of your relationship, you may be able to turn negative patterns and conversations of conflict into productive, positive conversations.