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what does a couples therapist do?

Updated: Jan 24

If you've ever wondered what a couples therapist can do to help your relationship, this guide will answer many of your questions. You'll learn about the different titles of therapists, qualifications, and how a couples therapist can help address issues in your relationship. Whether you're struggling with communication problems or experiencing conflict, therapy can provide the support you need to overcome these challenges. Then we will dive deeper into Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) and why it has become the therapy model I use with all my couple clients.



qualifications

Not all couples therapists are built equally, so how can you tell the difference? First, you can look at the therapist's title. For instance, a therapist can hold a title such as: Professional Counselor, Marriage & Family Therapist, Social Worker, and many more. Each title comes with its own areas of focus, but all licensed mental health professionals meet the minimum qualifications necessary to see individuals, couples, and families. However, those who have obtained the title of Marriage & Family Therapist may have undergone specific training to work with couples and families during their master's degree or internship. So for the sake of simplicity, someone with the title of MFT, LMFT, or LAMFT will have more training related to relationship dynamics and systems theory.

universal traits of couples therapists

There are a number of things that most couples therapists do, but the most common include helping couples to communicate better, resolve conflicts, and rebuild their relationship. They may also provide education on relationships and how to make them work well. Additionally, they often help spouses understand each other’s needs and emotions better. There are some things that couples therapists typically avoid doing. For example, they generally do not take sides in conflicts and they also try to stay impartial when it comes to decisions made by the couple.


Additionally, they often refrain from giving personal advice or feedback unless specifically asked for it by the client. Couples therapists typically present in a warm and supportive manner. They may be direct when addressing problems, but they also work to maintain a positive relationship with both spouses. Additionally, they often use humour as a way to lighten the mood and keep things constructive, though this is not always the case.


There are a few other universal traits of couples therapists. One is that they typically have good communication skills and are able to maintain neutrality in difficult situations. Additionally, they often have strong problem-solving abilities and can help couples find resolutions to their conflicts. Lastly, they usually have a lot of experience working with relationships and understand the dynamics that commonly occur within them


why emotionally focused therapy?

There are many different models and approaches to couples therapy. I have tried several, including the Gottman Method, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Solution-Focused Therapy, and a Psychoeducational Approach; but the one that has given my clients the best results is Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT). There is a great deal of research that supports the effectiveness of EFT with couples who are experiencing relationship distress.


The point of Emotionally Focused Therapy is to help couples rebuild their relationship by understanding their emotions and how they affect the couples patterns of interaction. It can also help partners learn how to better express themselves and resolve conflicts by giving room to deeper, less-obvious emotions. Ultimately, in EFT the goal is for couples to begin to reach to one another again for their attachment needs.


The success of Emotionally Focused Therapy is largely due to the fact that it helps couples focus on the emotional aspect of their relationship. By understanding their emotions and how they affect the relationship, partners can learn to interact in new ways. The emotional engagement component is key to the success of Emotionally Focused Therapy. By helping couples stay engaged in their softer, more vulnerable feelings, new ways of speaking and listening develop. This often leaves the couple feeling more safe to be emotionally vulnerable and to reach out to their partner again.

an eft therapy session

The Emotionally Focused Couples Therapist will help the couple to become aware of and talk about their "dance." In EFT the dance is a metaphor that is often used to describe the interaction between couples in therapy. It refers to the way that each partner interacts with the other, and how they respond to each other's movements. The therapist will help the couple to understand this dance and how it affects their relationship. Understanding the dance is important because it can help couples to identify any repetitive patterns of behavior that are causing problems in their relationship. It can also help them to understand why they are reacting to each other in certain ways, and how they can change their behavior for the better.


The Emotionally Focused Couples Tharapist then will work with the couple on developing a stronger emotional connection. This involves working on areas such as trust, communication, and intimacy. The therapist will help the couple to identify any barriers that are preventing them from achieving this goal, such as major hurts in the relationship, and provide guidance on how to deepen and express the feelings surrounding these events. Ultimately, the goal here is to lead the couple into acceptance of hurts, fears, and needs in their partner, allowing them to become more intimate and connected with one another.


conclusion

So, if you've ever wondered what a couples therapist can do for you, today we covered the basics. As far as finding a couples therapist, starting your search for an LMFT, MFT, or LAMFT is probably your best bet. You can search for a couples therapist in your neighborhood on therapy directories such as PsychologyToday.com, GoodTherapy.com, and TherapyDen.com. And while there are many universal traits most couple therapists share, Emotionally Focused Couples Therapists are focused on deepening emotional engagement between partners, helping them break out of "the dance," and leading them to communicate in a new, more vulnerable way.


If you live in or near the Phoenix, Arizona area and are interested in EFT couples therapy, you can visit my website www.thehugtherapycenter.com for more information or to schedule a therapy session with me.

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