Welcome! There is no such thing as a perfect relationship. No matter how much we love our partners, our differences as unique individuals will cause conflict from time to time. Sometimes this conflict grows into a larger divide between each other.
As arguments become more frequent, it is very common for both partners to begin blaming one another's faults and inadequacies for being the source of the problem, leaving both partners feeling more isolated and alone.
If this describes how you've been feeling, now is a great time to consider an investment in couple therapy. I say investment because it truly is one, for both partners - an investment of money, time, effort, and emotional energy. On this page, I describe my approach to couple therapy so that you can decide together whether it sounds like a worthy investment for you.
Integrative Behavioral Couple Therapy
I use a method called Integrative Behavioral Couple Therapy (IBCT), which is an evidence-based therapy for couples. The main difference between this and other types of couple therapy is that IBCT is less focused on teaching couples specific communication skills.
Instead, IBCT emphasizes both partners developing a new and fuller understanding of each other and the relationship in order to help you connect over your differences and vulnerabilities instead of contending over them.
Additionally, both partners learn to see what role they may be playing in the problematic patterns and develop ways to help each other build healthier patterns. In my view, these kinds of perspective shifts can stick with you long after the therapy, whereas specific skills can be easier to forget over time.
Much of the time when couples present for therapy, it is more one partner's drive to do it, and the other partner may be more reluctant or skeptical. "Will the therapist just take my partner's side? What will it be like?" These are completely legitimate questions.
In IBCT my role as therapist involves paying careful attention to the balance between both partners. This may not mean that every relationship issue is perfectly balanced, but that overall, both partners feel their perspective is being heard and represented in the therapy.
Here's a little more on how IBCT looks in practice:
We start off the process with the Assessment Phase (2 sessions). In the first session, I interview you as a couple about your relationship history and the challenges that have arisen for you most recently.
In the second session, I split the time interviewing you each for 25 minutes on your individual histories. This session is very beneficial because it sets the foundation for how I as the therapist can help your partner understand you better.
Next, I prepare personalized feedback for you as a couple based on my assessment and present that to you in the third session. This is a good reflection point between the therapist and couple as we decide whether it seems like a good idea to pursue the Therapy Phase. If so, we would start treatment planning and even dive into the therapy.
In the Therapy Phase, we use the understanding we've built during the assessment/feedback to start tackling the current issues that you are facing as a couple. Each session, we would alternate between partners choosing the topic, and I would guide you both in discussing your perspectives on it.
The goal is for me to help you disrupt the negative patterns that come up for you outside the therapy, and to help you find more constructive ways of discussing these issues. We may also come up with strategies each of you can try during the week to put into practice something that you realized from the session.
The length of the treatment can vary depending on the nature of the challenges you're seeking help for, but commonly around 10 sessions (including the 2 assessment sessions) will provide couples with therapeutic benefit. Sessions could be weekly or every other week (we could discuss which seems like the best fit given your circumstances).