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Relationship Counseling

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Relationship counseling is the process of family therapy), employees or employers in a workplace, or between a professional and a client.

Couple’s therapy (or relationship therapy) is a subset of relationship therapy. It may differ from other forms of relationship counseling in various regards including its duration. Short term counseling may be between 1 to 3 sessions whereas long term couples solution focused couples therapy. In addition, counseling tends to be more ‘here and now’ and new coping strategies the outcome. Couples therapy is more about seemingly intractable problems with a relationship history, where emotions are the target and the agent of change.

Marriage counseling or marital therapy can refer to either or some combination of the above.

The methods may differ in other ways as well, but the differences may indicate more about the counselor/therapist’s way of working than the title given to their process. Both methods also can be acquired for no charge, depending on your needs. For more information about getting the care that may be required, one should make a call to a local hospital or healthcare professional.


Marriage counseling originated in Germany in the 1920s as part of the [5]

It wasn’t until the 1950s that therapists began treating psychological problems in the context of the family.elders fulfil the work of relationship counseling. Today marriage mentoring mirrors those cultures.

With increasing modernization or peer group. Some large companies maintain a full-time professional counseling staff to facilitate smoother interactions between corporate employees, to minimize the negative effects that personal difficulties might have on work performance.

Increasingly there is a trend toward professional certification and government registration of these services. This is in part due to the presence of duty of care issues and the consequences of the counselor or therapist’s services being provided in a fiduciary relationship.[7] See also alienation of affection.

Basic principles

Before a relationship between individuals can begin to be understood, it is important to recognize and acknowledge that each person, including the counselor, has a unique personality, perception, set of values and history. Individuals in the relationship may adhere to different and unexamined value systems. Institutional and societal variables (like the social, religious, group and other collective factors) which shape a person’s nature and behavior are considered in the process of counseling and therapy. A tenet of relationship counseling is that it is intrinsically beneficial for all the participants to interact with each other and with society at large with optimal amounts of conflict. A couple’s conflict resolution skills seems to predict divorce rates.[8]

Most relationships will get strained at some time, resulting in a failure to function optimally and produce self-reinforcing, maladaptive patterns. These patterns may be called “negative interaction cycles.” There are many possible reasons for this, including insecure problem solving, ill health, third parties and so on.

Changes in situations like financial state, physical health, and the influence of other family members can have a profound influence on the conduct, responses and actions of the individuals in a relationship.

Often it is an interaction between two or more factors, and frequently it is not just one of the people who are involved that exhibit such traits. Relationship influences are reciprocal: it takes each person involved to make and manage problems.

A viable solution to the problem and setting these relationships back on track may be to reorient the individuals’ feeling.

The next step is to adopt conscious, structural changes to the inter-personal relationships and evaluate the effectiveness of those changes over time.

Indeed, “typically for those close personal relations there is a certain degree in ‘interdependence’ – which means that the partners are alternately mutually dependent on each other. As a special aspect of such relations something contradictory is put outside: the need for intimacy and for autonomy.”

“The common counterbalancing satisfaction these both needs, intimacy and autonomy, leads to alternately satisfaction in the relationship and stability. But it depends on the specific developing duties of each partner in every life phase and maturity”.[9]

Basic practices

Two methods of couples therapy focus primarily on the process of communicating. The most commonly used method is . Each helps couples learn a method of communicating designed to create a safe environment for each partner to express and hear feelings.

When the Munich Marital Study discovered active listening to not be used in the long run, Warren Farrell observed that active listening did a better job creating a safe environment for the criticizer to criticize than for the listener to hear the criticism. The listener, often feeling overwhelmed by the criticism, tended to avoid future encounters. He hypothesized that we were biologically programmed to respond defensively to criticism, and therefore the listener needed to be trained in-depth with mental exercises and methods to interpret as love what might otherwise feel abusive. His method is Cinematic Immersion.

After 30 years of research into marriage John Gottman has found that healthy couples almost never listen and echo each other’s feelings naturally. Whether miserable or radiantly happy, couples said what they thought about an issue, and “they got angry or sad, but their partner’s response was never anything like what we were training people to do in the listener/speaker exercise, not even close.[10]

Such exchanges occurred in less than 5 percent of marital interactions and they predicted nothing about whether the marriage would do well or badly. What’s more, Gottman noted, data from a 1984 Munich study demonstrated that the (reflective listening) exercise itself didn’t help couples to improve their marriages. To teach such interactions, whether as a daily tool for couples or as a therapeutic exercise in empathy, was a clinical dead end.[11]

By contrast emotionally focused therapy for couples (EFT-C) is based on attachment theory and uses emotion as the target and agent of change. Emotions bring the past alive in rigid interaction patterns, which create and reflect absorbing emotional states. As one of its founders Sue Johnson says,

Forget about learning how to argue better, analysing your early childhood, making grand romantic gestures, or experimenting with new sexual positions. Instead, recognize and admit that you are emotionally attached to and dependent on your partner in much the same way that a child is on a parent for nurturing, soothing, and protection. From the book, “Hold Me Tight” by Sue Johnson, Page 6.[this quote needs a citation]

Research on therapy

The most researched approach to couples therapy is behavioral couples therapy.[15]

Relationship counselor or couple’s therapist

Licensed couple therapist may refer to a psychiatrist, clinical social workers, psychologists, pastoral counsellors, marriage and family therapists, and psychiatric nurses.[16] The duty and function of a relationship counselor or couples therapist is to listen, respect, understand and facilitate better functioning between those involved.

The basic principles for a counselor include:

  • Provide a confidential dialogue, which normalizes feelings
  • To enable each person to be heard and to hear themselves
  • Provide a mirror with expertise to reflect the relationship’s difficulties and the potential and direction for change
  • Empower the relationship to take control of its own destiny and make vital decisions
  • Deliver relevant and appropriate information
  • Changes the view of the relationship
  • Improve communication

As well as the above, the basic principles for a couples therapist also include:

  • To identify the repetitive, negative interaction cycle as a pattern.
  • To understand the source of reactive emotions that drive the pattern.
  • To expand and re-organize key emotional responses in the relationship.
  • To facilitate a shift in partners’ interaction to new patterns of interaction.
  • To create new and positively bonding emotional events in the relationship
  • To foster a secure attachment between partners.
  • To help maintain a sense of intimacy.

Common core principles of relationship counseling and couples therapy are:

In both methods, the practitioner evaluates the couple’s personal and relationship story as it is narrated, interrupts wisely, facilitates both de-escalation of unhelpful conflict and the development of realistic, practical solutions.[18] The practitioner may meet each person individually at first but only if this is beneficial to both, is consensual and is unlikely to cause harm. Individualistic approaches to couple problems can cause harm. The counselor or therapist encourages the participants to give their best efforts to reorienting their relationship with each other. One of the challenges here is for each person to change their own responses to their partner’s behaviour. Other challenges to the process are disclosing controversial or shameful events and revealing closely guarded secrets. Not all couples put all of their cards on the table at first. This can take time.

Novel practices

A novel development in the field of couples therapy has involved the introduction of insights gained from [21]

Popularized methodologies

Although results are almost certainly significantly better when professional guidance is utilized (see especially self-diagnosis.

Using modern technologies such as Skype voip conferencing to interact with practitioners are also becoming increasingly popular for their added accessibility as well as discarding any existing geographic barriers. Entrusting in the performance and privacy of these technologies may pose concerns despite the convenient structure, especially compared to the comfort of in-person meetings.

Some resources include:

Relationship counseling with homosexual/bisexual clients

“Marital Therapy” is now referred to as “Couples Therapy” in order to include individuals who are not married or those who are engaged in same sex relationships.[23]

A significant number of men and women experience conflict surrounding homosexual expression within a [26]

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See also


  1. ^ Wendy Kline, Building a Better Race: Gender, Sexuality, and Eugenics from the Turn of the century.
  2. ^ Wendy Kline Building a Better Race: Gender, Sexuality, and Eugenics from the Turn of the century
  3. ^ Lorna L. Hecker, Joseph L. Wetchler An introduction to marriage and family therapy
  4. ^ [1] History of family therapy movement
  5. ^ [2] Timeline of family therapy
  6. ^ b Nichols & Schwartz, Family Therapy: Concepts and Methods. Fourth edition. Allyn & Bacon
  7. ^ Stewart v Layton (1992) 111 ALR 687
  8. ^ Sternberg, J. “Satisfaction in close relationships”, Guilford Press, 1997, p. 344
  9. ^ Kaiser-Wienhoff Couples Direct Analysis CDA
  10. ^ Gottman, J The Marriage Clinic: A Scientifically Based Marital Therapy (Norton, 1999)
  11. ^ Smart Marriage Archives
  12. ^ Chapman and Compton: (2003) From Traditional Behavioral Couple Therapy to Integrative Behavioral Couple Therapy: New Research Directions The Behavior Analyst Today, 4 (1), 17 -25 BAO
  13. ^ O’Donohue, W. and Ferguson, K.E. (2006): Evidence-Based Practice in Psychology and Behavior Analysis. The Behavior Analyst Today, 7(3) 335- 347 BAO
  14. ^ Christensen A, Atkins DC, Yi J, Baucom DH, & George WH. (2006). Couple and individual adjustment for 2 years following a randomized clinical trial comparing traditional versus integrative behavioral couple therapy.J Consult Clin Psychol. 74(6):1180-91
  15. ^ Christensen, A., Atkins, D.C., Baucom, B., & Yi, J. (2010). Marital status and satisfaction five years following a randomized clinical trial comparing traditional versus integrative behavioral couple therapy. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 78, 225-235.
  16. ^ b Couples Therapy.The Harvard Mental Health Letter.Gale Group Inc.2007
  17. ^ “Marriage Counseling with Sister Fancy Shmance – episode 2”. YouTube. 2014-02-16date“>. Retrieved 2014-02-20. 
  18. ^ “Marriage Counseling with Sister Fancy Shmance”. YouTube. 2014-01-15. Retrieved 2014-01-30. 
  19. ^ Atkinson, B., Atkinson, L., Kutz, P., et al. (2005). Rewiring Neural States in Couples Therapy: Advances from Affective Neuroscience.Journal of Systemic Therapies. 24 (3): 3-16.
  20. ^ Resnikoff, R. (2002). Couples Therapy and Psychopharmacology. Psychiatric Times. 19 (7).
  21. Clashing couples to get a spray of love. Sydney Morning Herald May 26, 2007.
  22. ^ Jerry J. Bigner (Editor), Joseph L. Wetchler (Editor), Relationship Therapy with Same-Sex Couple 2004
  23. Relationship therapy with same-sex couples
  24. 3655341. 
  25. 7346553. 
  26. 2079706. 

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article relationship counseling, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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