A marriage therapy approach is a way in which a therapist conducts a therapy session and helps couples accomplish their goals. The approach utilized matters significantly, as no two couples are identical. Offering several treatment approaches allows the client to choose an approach that best fits their comfort level and relationship style. For example, aerobic exercise improves cardiovascular health, but not everyone uses the same exercise approach. Some swim, others jog, while others choose to ride a bike. The result is the same: improved cardiovascular health. As with marriage therapy, there are multiple ways to solve relationship struggles. Some couples find it helpful to utilize more than one approach simultaneously.
This approach is very much what it sounds like, focusing on solutions. It may seem overly simple however, many couples are stuck in their relationship because they are dwelling on the problem, rather than pursuing strategies to solve the issue. The therapist helps the couple identify what they want to happen in the marriage and teaches them techniques and skills to live out the marriage experiences they are striving for. This approach is very positive and encouraging in nature, as it emphasizes looking to the future of the relationship and opportunities for growth, rather than focusing on what is broken and not working. Couples tend to see noticeable results in 2 sessions.
This approach helps couples identify nonproductive relationship interactions and change those behaviors by learning to think differently about self, others, and circumstances. The therapist helps the couple more closely examine their actual thoughts and understand how their thinking patterns generate emotions/feelings, which then results in productive or non-productive behavior toward the other person. The therapist helps the client connect the “dots” between thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. This approach is very empowering as it enhances the client’s ability to be proactive and gain control over themselves, rather than reacting negatively to the undesired behavior of their spouse.
When couples are feeling disconnected, they make attempts to reconnect, but the outcome is usually conflict and increased feelings of separation. Empathic Connectivity is a therapy approach that strengthens a couple’s ability to connect through a deeper understanding of their partner’s emotional experience. Both men and women have a need to be understood on an emotional level. This level of understanding promotes feelings of validation, support, and intimacy, which is foundational to relationship fulfillment. The therapist teaches couples to listen to understand their spouse, rather than listening to defend themselves. The therapist also teaches the couple to reflect on their own experiences that are like that of their partner. This allows for increased empathy for the other’s experience and emotions. In other words, “putting one’s self in the shoes of another”. Couples who are willing to do this level of work, often find that the marriage reawakens as the unity and cooperation in the marriage is significantly enhanced.
Family of Origin:
As children and teenagers, our primary caregivers significantly shape our beliefs about intimate partner relationships. It is through living with our families and observing their interactions day in and day out that we, without knowing it, adopt these beliefs as unquestionable truth. They are hardwired, so to speak, into our relationship DNA. Unless these ideas about relationships are challenged, they stay with us, consciously or subconsciously. Family of origin approach examines a couple’s relationship beliefs and the ways in which they promote and hinder a well-functioning marriage. The therapist assists the couple in embracing healthy relationship beliefs and letting go of unhealthy concepts about marital functioning. This approach has the potential to completely transform marriages and stabilize the nuclear family. When the husband/wife relationship recovers it sets the stage for overall healthy family unity and cooperation.
For couples who desire to include the spiritual aspect of marriage into the therapy process, I provide a holistic approach that utilizes psychologically sound Christian principles. This approach teaches couples how to apply the values of the Christian faith in overcoming their relationship problems. The blending of proven marriage therapy interventions with Christian based ideas and values promotes change and relationship healing on the psychological, emotional, and spiritual level. This approach also has the potential to generate significant amounts of hope for couples who have lost hope and trust in each other.