Thoughts on couples therapy…
It is my personal opinion that clients should be very careful when choosing a couples therapist, because in this realm, not all therapists will be sufficiently trained to facilitate the most thorough and competent service to you and your partner. While it’s true that the vast majority of psychologists will have, at minimum, a rudimentary understanding of the concepts that aid communication and the techniques by which it may be improved, without formal training in both communications theory, general systems theory, and an introduction to both structural and family systems theories, clients are liable to feel as though the presenting issue is misunderstood and not addressed.
Often in couples therapy the presenting problem brought into the office is less the real issue that needs to be addressed, and is more so simply an example of the way the problem manifests itself. Essentially, it is often an angry couple that first comes for sessions that seeks to sell the therapist on just how justifiable each person's anger is. There are indeed times that anger is the real issue on account of a variety of reasons, and needs to be addressed. However, my belief is that the "angry husband" in my office is often feeling rejected or disrespected first and foremost, and the "angry wife" is feeling abandoned and unloved (or a version of vice versa). And without a better understanding of how clients present with “content”, ie: angry dialogue with attack and defense about the fact that the lawn wasn’t mowed which sometimes conceals the “process”, ie: the hurt drawn from a conclusion that their spouse cares too little about them to have done said yard work, clients are at risk of cycling in patterns that never address the deeper issue that elicited the anger in the first place.
My goal is always to help my couples gain insights into the deeper process they may be wrestling with, and then to provide a safe environment in which they will both be heard and validated with these feelings, and to find solutions to their issues as they see them.