What is Couples Therapy?

By Dori Dubin, PsyD, LCSW, Psychoanalyst and Couples Therapist in Oakland, CA

Couples therapy – also known as marriage or relationship counseling – is a type of psychotherapy that can help couples in all types of intimate relationships – heterosexual, same-sex, married or not. It involves both members of a couple meeting with a psychotherapist to help them develop insight and resolve problems in relating to each other, thereby strengthening their relationship. In those rare instances where it is in the best interests of the couple to separate, a therapist can help the couple to separate in a collaborative, healthy way.

There are many good reasons for seeking couples therapy. For example, you may be experiencing cycles of unproductive, repetitive fighting alternating with periods of one or both of you withdrawing. Perhaps you are having difficulty communicating and making decisions together. One or both of you may feel devalued by your partner. Despite being in a relationship, you find that you are feeling lonely. In the aftermath of infidelity, you may be struggling to re-establish trust.

Being in a relationship throughout the many phases of life means that the needs of each individual and of the couple require constant balancing. For a relationship to be successful, it must be able to grow and change over time. As couples negotiate significant life changes, such as adjustment to parenting, infertility, career changes or relocation to a new community, difficulties may develop. Contributing to this tension is the fact that frequently without knowing it, partners may be bringing in problematic beliefs, expectations and behaviors into their relationship.

Problems which you have been unable to communicate about for months or years can lead to cycles of being adversarial or withdrawn. You may not know how you got into this, wish you could resolve these difficulties, but don’t know how to achieve that goal.

A skilled couples therapist can help you get to the root of the difficulties in your relationship. He or she can help you discover and understand the hidden fears and worries that often lie below the surface of your conflicts. You will also learn productive ways of talking about these concerns with each other. By being able to communicate effectively about these highly charged emotional issues and by listening carefully to your partner’s communication, each of you improves understanding of yourself and also of your partner. In this manner, you both become able to more effectively work together in making decisions and promoting a greater feeling of satisfaction and intimacy in your relationship.

Couple Psychotherapy Can Help You with:
* Recapturing the loving and joyful feelings which brought you together originally
* Improving communication
* Resolving conflict
* Enhancing emotional intimacy
* Improving sexual satisfaction
* Handling cultural and religious differences
* Collaborating as parents
* Negotiating life changes, such as marriage, childbirth, infertility, “empty nest,” blended families, and career changes
* Deciding to reunite after separation
* Rebuilding trust after infidelity

Dori Dubin PsyD, Couples Therapist OaklandAbout this Contributor: Dori Dubin, PsyD, LCSW, BCD-P is a psychotherapist and psychoanalyst who works with individual and couples. She is a graduate, a faculty member, and a training and supervising analyst at the Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California (PINC), San Francisco. She is also a member of the faculty and a supervisor at The Psychotherapy Institute (TPI), Berkeley. Dr. Dubin has been in private practice for over 30 years. Her office is conveniently located in the Rockridge area of Oakland.

To find out more about Dori Dubin, please visit her website at www.OaklandCATherapist.com.

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