Couples Therapy: Our Therapists Answer Questions
Love is known to be a fierce and intense emotion that is felt by humans. The need to form compatible connections appears to be instinctive, innate. Relationships are of many kinds but it is in a romantic relationship with a congruent partner/s in which many people seek it’s asservation. However, the ability to form healthy and loving relationships is something that is learned. The process for it actually starts from infancy, where the caregiver assuredly meets all of the infants needs like food, care, warmth, protection and social contact. These connections are built with deeply ingrained patterns of relating to others and not by some divine decree or fate or fortune.
Relationships have wonderful benefits for the well-being of the individuals involved but no relationship is without challenges. There are issues that may put pressure and strain on a couple. Working through them can either make their relationship strong or it can push them apart. The results depend on how they are able to handle the situations they face. Working out relationship problems in a healthy manner may seem like a challenge in itself, so we asked some of our therapists about their experience in working with couples. But before we die into the questions, let’s just try to understand what couples therapy is about.
Couples therapy is the kind of psychotherapy where a therapist with clinical experience works with couples and helps them gain insight into their relationship, resolve the friction or disputes and ameliorate relationship satisfaction using a variety of therapeutic interventions. Although each therapy session or practice of couples therapy may differ and is unique to the therapist as well as the couple. But they all may have these elements in common:
The focus is on a particular problem or issue.
The therapist focuses on treating the relationship as a whole rather than the individuals respectively.
Interventions are solution-focused and directed towards change.
What approach do you use with couples?
Dr. Mahima Sukhwal says, “I usually integrate Emotion Focused Therapy and Imago Relationship Therapy, which conceptualise relationship styles as the outcome of early emotional experiences, and focus on the partners’ interaction patterns. I include behavioural approaches occasionally, as some things in all relationships are simply mutual give and take!”
While Madhuri Sampath says, “I approach couples’ therapy a bit like family therapy and not discounting the individual work that needs to be done”.
And Varsha Vemula says, “I usually use imago relationship modality along with the solution focused approach sometimes with couples. It really helps both the partners to be able to understand each other better and provides a space to have difficult conversations”.
What are a couple of issues that you might have addressed with couples?
Dr. Mahima Sukhwal “Hurtful or inadequate expression of emotions is the most common issue I address across couples. Often the issue the couple are grappling with is the adverse ways in which extended families, especially the male partner’s family in our patriarchal society affect the relationship dynamics. Affairs outside the relationship is another issue I am seeing increasingly”.
Madhuri Sampath, “There is a range of issues couples bring to therapy and the age of the marriage and individuals also play an important role in the issues they present in therapy. The major ones being communication and conflict resolution”.
Varsha Vermula, “Though the issues vary from every couple to and we can’t fit them into a category, the most underlying concerns could be partners wanting the other to understand them- their values and beliefs, what they want and what’s important from them. And how they can find a middle ground for the relationship to work considering both their wants and needs”.
What are the different age groups of couples you have seen?
When asked about the age groups of the couples they have experience with, they shared a wide range of different age groups they have worked with.
Dr. Mahima Sukhwal shares that the couples she has seen for couples therapy till now are 30 to 50 years old. Whereas Madhuri Sampath has worked with young couples, in their 20s to early 30s (35 to 45) and above. While Varsha Vermula has helped couples around the age group 20’s – 40’s.
Your sense of the importance of couples therapy and what becomes possible.
Dr. Mahima Sukhwal: “It is understandable to assume that since we are all programmed to connect and love, maintaining happy relationships will just come to us naturally. However, relationships are an art, and there is also science behind what makes relationships work! Reaching out for couples therapy is to give a chance to a psychologist to enhance your relationship with this science and art”.
Madhuri Sampath: ‘What becomes possible in therapy is open communication and collaboration in resolving their issues”.
Varsha Vermula: “Couple therapy really does provide a platform to be able to express their needs and wants in a safe space without dismissing the opposite person’s needs as well. Because as individuals we continue to grow and it’s really important to have these conversations so that the relationship can allow that growth to happen and not hinder it”.
At Pause for Perspective, we have trained therapists who are well versed in different styles and techniques of couples work including:
Relational Life Model,
Esther Perel’s framework,
The Solution Focused Couples Counseling and
Queer Affirmative Counseling.
We believe that every person deserves a space where they can be themselves and be held, where they can be validated, acknowledged and accepted. “Our space is the container for you to come into yourself and articulate your own truth and presence”.