What Is The Best Type Of Relationship Therapy?
Updated January 20, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Wendy Boring-Bray, DBH, LPC
If you're in a relationship, improving it is key. But what is the best type of relationship therapy for you? Well, there are a few types, and we'll go over the pros, and the cons. The answer at the bottom of it all is that it depends, but we are going to highlight the best couples therapy out there.
The Gottman method for couples has three decades of benefits, research, and practice behind it. The focus is to use affection, respect, and closeness, and in turn, these will help you resolve the conflicts that you may have if an impasse happens. It also lets you understand your problems and calmly discuss them.
The Gottman method uses love maps, which you build with your partner to map out your worries, joys, stresses, history, and hopes, as well as increase admiration and fondness through respect and appreciation with one another. It works with conflict management rather than conflict resolution. It is good if you and your partner have issues with talking with one another, and it will allow for a lifelong relationship and commitment to flourish.
Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy
This is a type of couples therapy that was developed by Dr. Susan Johnson. It's marriage counseling, but it can be used for couples counseling and family counseling as well. It's used in hospitals, private practices, clinics, and even training centers. While it is helpful in many situations, the best way to use this is if you think depression is at the forefront. So, if depression is a major part of the relationships, and is what's causing issues with the couple, this can be helpful.
This is a short-term solution, though; so, if you're looking for something long-term, another type of therapy may benefit you. There are three goals here, and they are as follows:
- The reorganization and expansion of your emotional responses
- Securing the bond that you have with your partner
- Reposition the stance that you have on interactions to create new and more beneficial interactions within the partnership
This method has been found to move about 70-75% of troubled relationships into recovery, and has shown about 90% improvement in relationship functioning.
This is the type of therapy that focuses on positivity, whether it be in emotions, your strengths, or other sources, to promote the idea that happiness is derived from various emotional and mental aspects. With relationships, this type of therapy gives you a chance to look at the happy moments when they happen, instead of in retrospect. Though this, you learn to focus on emotions positively—to live in the present rather than just in the past.
This is a great one for couples because it feels liberating and joyful. Many specialists believe that perception does dictate happiness from one sort of event to another. Some can't identify the emotions when they come up, but they see them in hindsight, which is fine in a sense. But to be truly happy, you have to live in the moment.
It involves beepers and pagers—the therapist will beep the client to remind them to record the experiences that are happening. They journal what's going on during the day, and it conditions them to enjoy the moments as they're experienced.
This is the best type of therapy for couples that do not appreciate the good moments. So, if you're a couple that feels like their relationship is being taken for granted, this will help condition you to not feel this way—to feel happier, and better.
This is a therapy that's good if you sometimes blame your partner for things instead of separating the problem from the person. This therapy technique involves externalizing the issues that are bothering you. A therapist will ask you to talk about the problems in a narrative form, and from there, you talk about it, but then rewrite the negative aspects, taking out the person and looking at the problem itself.
This is a way to acknowledge that a problem isn't what defines a person, but instead, is simply something that people have. A common issue with couples is that the problems they share define who they are, such as having money issues defining the type of person that they are. By acknowledging this, it brings a new perspective, and narrative therapy gives you this problem from different angles, whether it be in a cultural sense, social sense, or a political sense.
Narrative therapy gives a more dynamic outlook to the story since you're starting the negative issues in the form of narration. This type of therapy gives you a chance to explore your past to bring forth the negativities that are otherwise hidden in life. By exploring these behaviors and conceptions, you'll be able to gain better insight into the facts that are troubling you, and from there you can deal with the problems, and rewrite the narrative that's present in the relationship. You can look at the problems themselves rather than blaming it all on the partner.
This is a form of therapy that focuses on your communication. Now, what is one of the key ways relationships fail? The ability—or the inability—to communicate. This is how conflicts arise in partnerships of all types, and you need to learn how to communicate better if this keeps happening. If you have lots of conflicts, learning how to communicate gives you a chance to foster constructive discussions. Communication requires conscious effort, and you have to remember, what might seem clear to you might not be understood by your partner, so it's important to speak your mind, rather than expect another person to read your moods and your body language. Both of these are reasons why issues get misinterpreted, and it's why it's important to learn how your partner communicates.
By looking at the methods you and your partner use to communicate, you can look to see where it goes wrong, where misinterpretation happens. Therapists can help you figure out more functional means of communication and ways to help with misunderstandings. If you learn to communicate with your partner, while it may seem unnatural initially, it will allow you to have a better means to support one another. If you feel like you're having issues communicating with your partner, then this is ultimately the way to go, and what you need to keep in mind.
Imago Relationship Therapy
Imago therapy is one that's good for couples since it puts together the spiritual and behavioral issues that couples may have. Some of these counseling techniques are used in combination with western therapy to look at the unconscious reasons why you may have chosen your mate. In this, you and your partner are looking at how you relate to one another in caring positive ways, and the therapist looks at the conflict that couples have as a means to a solution to the situation, rather than a problem. If you look at the conflict, you can find a solution to the disharmony and be happier too.
Emotional discord within a relationship is seen in negative emotions and dissatisfaction. This will in turn force you to look outside of your relationship, but Imago relationship therapy looks at the negative emotions, behaviors and severed communication between the two, and it will help with resolving problems. Partners will learn that disagreements aren't the end of the world, but a part of relationships that you can't avoid. In turn, you'll be able to be a better person to your partner and solve issues fast.
Consider Relationship Therapy
Studies show that online couples counseling is an effective method of helping couples improve communication and relationship functioning. In one wide-ranging review, published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy, researchers examined the effects of online interventions for both satisfied couples and couples in distress. The report begins by listing some of the negative effects of relationship dissatisfaction, including increased risk of individual mental illness, poor physical health, and impairments in work and social life. According to researchers, online couples counseling provides a number of benefits, including decreased cost and the reduction of other barriers to care. These findings are similar to those from a number of recent studies suggesting that online couples counseling is an accessible, cost-effective option.
If you’re not ready to discuss these issues in a face-to-face setting, online counseling through BetterHelp allows you to seek treatment privately, from the comfort of your home. You won’t have to worry about potentially seeing someone you know or discussing your treatment with anyone but your therapist. Plus, you’ll have the option of participating in therapy anonymously—simply select a “nickname” when you register, if you prefer. A licensed counselor can help you and your partner get back on the right track. Read below for reviews of BetterHelp’s qualified mental health professionals, from those who have experienced similar issues.
“I have only had a couple of sessions with Perry so far and I am already mind blown at the things he has helped me to uncover and realize. Quite frankly I felt like I was a mess and had no one to turn to. Perry has already helped me to save my job and we are currently working on many self improvement goals that I want to conquer. Revamping certain parts of my relationship with my husband is also something we are working on and my husband is so happy that I have taken this step. I am excited for what is to come and to finally get the help and support that I have needed for a long time now. I have a lot of things to work on and with Perry’s help I am confident I can change my life for the better.”
“Carly is a great listener. She’s very engaged in our interactions and gives meaningful advice after taking the time to understand your problems or concerns. I have learned so much through her, and grown in ways that positively impact my life. Looking forward to continuing to work on my relationship, professional goals and mental health with her.”
The best type of relationship therapy is one that works for you. Are you trying to resolve conflicts? Are you trying to be more positive? Are you trying to see the problems as issues themselves, instead of something tied to your partner? Whatever it may be, you have to look at what you're trying to fix initially, and from there, seek out a professional who will work for you. There are different types of therapy that can help you improve your relationship with your partner, and you can from there, create the best situation that you possibly can, and help to alleviate the conflicts that you have with your partner, and in turn, create a happier relationship, for yourself, and for them as well.
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