Can you relate? Have you ever felt like you could so easily just "fix" your partner's problem rather than talk about feelings? Or do you relate to the other side - have you ever been frustrated by your partner trying to fix your problem rather than just listening?
The role of the couples therapist is to understand both perspectives and to help the partners hear each other's perspective. So, even though this video is a exaggeration, we can identify with the situation and use it as an example of a couple working through the girlfriend/wife's suffering. I would explore with her about things like how long she has lived with the pain, how it has impacted her life and her relationship, what she has tried to do to ease the pain so far or to stop it. And if she hasn't tried to decrease the pain, to be curious about why she is invested in living with the pain instead of fixing it. I would want to hear from the boyfriend/husband what it has been like to watch his partner suffering and feel like he can't help her.
So, what does couples counselling look like? Well, with me, it starts with one or two sessions of getting to know the couple to assess how best to help them. I do this by asking what the problems are that bring them in, I ask about how they met, and some of the bigger events they have been through (moves, weddings, becoming parents, traumatic events). And, I often ask the couple to describe or discuss between them an argument they are stuck on. I watch how they interact. Then, I come up some homework for them to work on throughout the week to increase affection and friendship.
Some of the tools and ideas I use with my clients are also taught in my workshop for couples. Couples focus on learning 7 basic ideas or principles that dramatically strengthen and improve relationships.
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