Marriage Counseling Techniques

By Patricia Oelze|Updated August 2, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Laura Angers, NCC, LPC

Missing Out On An Individualized Approach To Marriage Therapy?

When a couple makes the decision to seek marriage counseling, the decision began as the decision of one half of the couple, who in turn pitched the idea to the other half of the couple. The other may or may not have been in agreement, therapists find that this is often the case that one will balk at the idea. This balking is associated with the idea of counseling, or therapy in general.

While marital problems are not a mental health condition, marital conflict and the ensuing stress can lead to health problems such as hypertension, anxiety, and depression. All of which can lead to other physical or mental health issues. Couples might be more amenable to marriage therapy if they saw it as more of a preventive measure than as treatment. With that stated, there are several approaches to couples counseling that keep this model in mind. Just as there is not a one size fits all with individual counseling, there certainly is not with marriage therapy as the marriage is after all comprised of individuals.

The Adlerian or Individual Approach

Alfred Adler was one of the pioneers in individual therapy. He believed that one had to treat the individual as a whole and how that individual experienced and viewed the world. Adler was quite successful in working with both individuals and couples, because of his realization that there were two distinct persons involved in the marriage, and that the status of couple implies oneness, that the individual's needs must come first. Often couples will say, "We want to save our marriage." When two people are so intent upon saving the marriage, that they lose themselves, a great deal of damage is generated. Therefore, a couples therapist who employs the Adlerian approach recognizes this tenet and works with both the individual and the partner as a contributing member of a relationship.

Married Couples Group Therapy

While it is comforting to realize there are others on the planet or in the community with the same sorts of problems, to take relationship issues into a group setting can have an incredible impact. The most obvious being that of privacy and confidentiality. Airing one's dirty marital linen in public, or group, can cause much discomfort within a marriage. If one shares something the other is not comfortable with others knowing, an issue that may have until now not existed has been created.

Confidentiality is at stake because even though the therapist is bound by ethical rules applicable to the profession to maintain confidentiality, and in group therapy sessions is required to admonish members of the group that what takes place in group, stays in group - there are no guarantees. No one wants to have their situation, let alone the possibility of their names posted in someone else's Facebook status.

Another issue is that when couples get together as a group even in social settings, like genders tend to form alliances and this causes the other to feel "ganged up on." This does not create a healthy couples counseling environment.

With other types of issues, group therapy can work quite well. For marriage therapy, strong consideration should be given.

Therapeutic Model vs. Pragmatic

With the therapeutic model, couples therapists treat relationship problems much like they would a mental health issue. This can set the stage for blaming and labeling. Marital conflict can be due to one partner or both partners having a mental health concern, or substance abuse/addiction issues; however, these should be treated individually, as separate concerns and separate people. Individual therapy should be conducted outside the marriage or couples therapy alliance. However, the couple can discuss how these issues have impacted the marriage when in marriage counseling.

Missing Out On An Individualized Approach To Marriage Therapy?

With the pragmatic model couples are encouraged to deal with immediate issues that are causing conflict. The easy fixes. This could mean that partners will spend more quality time together, learn each other’s love language, or just communicate better so that they can make more informed decisions about the relationship. That means there should be a great deal of self-examination on the part of each individual, to determine the motive, and to discover triggers. After which the couple then begins working on solutions for conflict resolution.

For more information about marriage counseling techniques and to find the best fit for you as an individual, and then as a couple, go to BetterHelp has a team of mental health professionals, including licensed marriage and family therapists, who can help you address concerns in your relationship. Online couples therapy can be more convenient and accessible than in-person therapy, giving partners the ability to connect with a licensed professional remotely, without having to go a therapist’s office.

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