Relationships are the cornerstone of our lives. They are also the most cited psychological problem in our lives and the most frequent reason people consider psychotherapy. Relationships with parents and caretakers are fundamental factors in human development, and as adults our relationships with significant others, friends, children and colleagues can provide joy and satisfaction, but can also lead to pain, stress and disappointment.
Relationship problems can be addressed by different modes of treatment. Individual Psychotherapy can be an effective method to improve skills for all of the relationships that encircle us - friendships, work relationships, family relationships and romantic relationships. In fact, relationships are often the primary focus of individual therapy, and this can include dealing with the painful ending of a relationship, chronic involvement in unfulfilling relationships or difficulty establishing relationships.
By contrast, in Couples Therapy you and your partner identify areas of conflict and issues within the relationship, then and work with the therapist to create a more satisfying relationship. Improving communications often is one of the primary tasks of couples therapy.
Some signals that a relationship could benefit from therapy are:
Arguments rather than discussions
An attitude of contempt
Defensiveness rather than open curiosity
Stonewalling or unresponsiveness
Abusive words or physical violence
Contemplation of, or actually having, an affair
Usually I see both partners for the initial session so that the three of us can begin to discuss the concerns about the relationship. Then I often see each person for an individual session to gather personal information and history; and to make sure I see things through both partner’s eyes. Thereafter, the three of us meet again to clarify goals and begin the process of building a happy and healthier relationship.
Although sometimes addressed in individual therapy, sexual problems are a common problem, and usually best addressed in couples therapy. Sexual problems include sexual boredom, loss of desire, erectile dysfunction, premature and delayed ejaculation.
Psychotherapy can also address challenges of being the primary caretaker for a chronically ill loved one; or issues of bereavement and loss through death.