How do I help couples in therapy?
For couples therapy, my main approach is helping couples reintegrate healthy intimacy in their relationship by focusing on healthy boundaries and communication.
When it comes to boundaries, we start by asking questions. What are the current challenges in the marriage? What do they need in the marriage to ensure that each person feels safe? The biggest problem with infidelity and sexual addiction behaviors is the act of external factors invading the marriage, thus, breaching boundaries. As a couple, focusing on what the marriage needs and establishing boundaries around those needs is important to make sure the marriage stays healthy and secure.
Examples of this include respecting each other’s feelings and figuring out each partner’s role in the marriage. Sometimes one partner will have more responsibility than the other. We need to take a look at where each individual can give and take to balance out how much is on each person’s plate. It is all about finding a healthy balance that allows the relationship to endure.
I teach my clients to effectively communicate with one another in a way that both parties feel heard and validated in the discussion. There are two sides to a conversation: the communicator and the receiver. Part of a healthy relationship is being able to play both roles effectively by using the skills and tools that I provide.
Using “I Statements”
I help my clients master the usage of “I statements” as a big tool for communication. “I statements” are especially helpful when conveying needs and feelings in a way that is sufficient and non-offensive. For example:
- Communicator: “I feel frustrated when I am not being heard or listened to.”
- Listener: “I hear and understand that you feel frustrated when you are not being heard or when I don’t acknowledge your statement.”
I teach my clients skills that not only allow them to get their message across more effectively but also encourage them to respond in a way that validates their partner and their feelings.
Steps for the listener:
- Hearing the information
- Clarifying the information
- Validating the information
Often, the most important and prevalent part of communication is the desire to feel heard. Practicing respectful dialogue, in which both parties put effort into hearing one another, is key to reintegrating healthy relationships.
Be steadfast because things will get better, it maybe stormy right now, but it won't stay that way forever.”
― Prof. Salam Al Shereida