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    Couples Therapy 101

    Couples therapy is a relatively recent development in the field of professional counseling, first gaining popularity in the 1950s. Its purpose is to improve interpersonal dynamics and satisfaction within marital and other intimate relationships.

    Many circumstances can lead a couple to enter therapy — such as jealousy, affairs, and financial, religious, parenting or other conflicts. Sometimes couples seek out help in the absence of severe problems, in an effort to rekindle a relationship that’s “lost its spark.”

    Goals of therapy are specific to the couple but can include improving communications, deepening empathic connections, resolving conflicts, helping partners feel heard and valued and healing emotional wounds. Sometimes goals change over the course of treatment, depending on how it unfolds.

    There are a number of different theoretical orientations commonly found in the practice of couples therapy, but I use an approach called Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy (EFT), which was developed by Dr. Susan Johnson in the mid 1980s.

    EFT focuses on strengthening a couple’s bond by examining and improving interactions and emotional responses and has a proven track record of positive outcomes. Research shows that approximately three out of four couples are successfully treated with EFT. And significant progress is often seen in as little as 8 sessions.

    In the beginning of therapy, an initial assessment is performed. This usually takes 3-4 sessions. During these appointments, I’ll ask you questions about your relationship, explore what’s working and what’s not — and we’ll agree on specific goals for our time together. The therapy process itself will also be discussed during these first visits.

    EFT is divided into three phases of treatment. In the first stage, you’ll learn how to step out of your conflict cycle. As you’re able to do this more consistently, the relationship begins to feel more secure. In the second phase, partners learn to be more emotionally vulnerable with each other. You’ll spend time practicing both sharing and receiving emotions in a more open, direct, honest and empathic manner. In the third and final phase of counseling, we’ll explore how to maintain the new, more positive pattern you’ve developed.

    If you’re interested in couples therapy, I offer a brief complementary consultation to answer questions and explore whether EFT might be right for you — feel free to call my Winter Park office at 407-579-2070. And if you want to learn more about Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy, you can find articles and some of the latest research at http://iceeft.com.

    Therapy services available via Telehealth.