Couples Therapy -
Growing up, most of us learn from our parents and peers an individual approach to looking at people’s problems. If a couple has an issue or problem, we tend to assume that the problem is in one person or the other. Often, in couples therapy, one person is identified as causing the couple’s problems. This leads to finger-pointing and the expectation that if the person will make some change in themselves or their situation then things will get better. If both people feel the other is the problem, they each believe the other should make these changes.
Therapists have historically been trained to take this individual approach in couples therapy. The huge difficulty with this approach is that frequently it just does not work! Finger-pointing triggers resentment and promotes an environment where the couple “keeps score.” In contrast to this approach, I follow the Gestalt Systems approach, which puts the primary emphasis upon the two people as a unit, rather than upon them each individually. I assume that the couple knowingly or unknowingly collaborates to cause their problems, and to create solutions.
By that definition, there must be collaboration to solve their problems in couples therapy. The question is changed from “what are you or I doing” to “what are we doing?” Couples develop patterns when they talk, pay bills, earn money, prepare dinner, etc., and sometimes these patterns do not work for a couple.
In Gestalt Systems couples therapy, the couple sits facing each other and works on what stands out at the moment. The therapist observes their patterns of interaction, noting patterns that work and that don’t work. The couple then practices solutions for interactions that do not work, and they are sent home with homework. This process is not easy, but it is very often rewarding for the couple. If you think you might need couples therapy and you live in the Cleveland, Ohio area, give me a call to schedule an appointment.