How Marriage Counseling Helps
- Learn open communication skills
- Build safety and trust
- Restore intimacy and emotional engagement
- Reclaim a sense of togetherness in solving life’s problems
- Nurture autonomy, let go of control
- Find light-hearted enjoyment in each other’s company
Most couples who come into counseling are a mixture between healthy and unhealthy styles. The goal of couple’s counseling is to find those areas that are healthy and develop strategies that build upon strengths to change unhealthy patterns.
Healthy Relationships Unhealthy Relationships
mutual respect, consideration contempt, criticism, insults
trust and openness suspicion and control
tolerate conflict, find solutions small disagreements become major fights
forward looking communication circular arguments, past grievances
shared sense of mission and purpose estrangement, leading separate lives
Decoupling and Divorce
It is important to acknowledge that some relationships are either too unhealthy to sustain or no longer have purpose. The choice to separate comes with its own challenges and feelings. Counseling helps clarify the deeper reasons for decoupling and prepares the ground for an amicable and purposive separation.
In cases where children are involved, special care must be kept not only in communicating the new reality to them but in creating co-parenting plans.
How relationships end sets the course for how new relationships begin.
“In the space between stimulus and response is freedom and power to heal”.
Integrative counseling ties together a number of different counseling techniques into a cohesive whole providing the flexibility to adapt to different personalities, situations and needs.
Because a person has different levels of ‘operating systems’; cognitive (linguistic), emotional, physiological and consciousness – thoughts, feelings, body and spirit – corresponding counseling techniques have evolved to address each of these levels:
Psychotherapy explores past experiences to determine where and how emotional and relationship patterns are formed and explore the quality, tone and intensity of thoughts and emotions.
Somatic therapy deepens the experience of thoughts and emotions within the body, to follow their energetic movements in order to facilitate opening and releasing memories and patterns that are no longer needed.
Mindfulness techniques help stabilize the mind to become more present and deepen the capacity to allow feelings and thoughts to arise and disperse. These meditative and contemplative practices strengthen our focus so we are less likely to react to stimuli and more likely to respond constructively.
A holistic perspective sees these four systems as deeply intertwined; an imbalance in one area can impact the whole.
The goal of therapy is to support each of these areas and heal through balance.
Depth Psychology and Dream Work
Depth psychology holds the belief that there is a psychologically accessible reality beyond ego consciousness that simultaneously forms the substrate of which our personalities are shaped. Dream work is one avenue towards accessing this deeper realm.
Dreams are like snapshots of what is happening within the substrate of the psyche. Emotions and thoughts are beautifully expressed through images that are organized like a language.
Psychological and spiritual traditions world wide recognize the value of paying attention to dreams because they are speaking about a reality that consciousness has yet attained. The dreams offer guidance, encouragement, and criticism.
Ultimately, the goal of dreams is to bring the person into their full potential, to gather the shattered pieces of ourselves caught within the chaos and pressures of life, to meld them together so we can become more substantial and whole.
Working with the images and meaning of dreams is an excellent supplement for finding balance within the ‘real’ world of goals, responsibilities and relationships
Couples who come from different cultural backgrounds have an extra layer of potential problems that can effect communication. Comminations styles are not just shaped by family upbringing but also by larger cultural norms. Also, different cultures may approach certain issues, such as family, parenting and money on different terms. Although these differences can be bridged and can serve to complement and strengthen one another, they can also become significant sources of stress. Nonetheless, the therapeutic goal of developing healthy communication skills remains the same.