Therapy for couples looking to love and be loved in a healthy way
Of all the relationships we form in our lifetime, the relationship with our significant other is supposed to be the most enriching, trusting, and supportive. In a “healthy” relationship, we should feel a safe and unconditional love from our partner, and likewise, feel free to offer unconditional love to our partner in a consistent way.
This is the ultimate and oftentimes unattainable goal of romantic love.
When there is a breakdown in a romantic relationship, the feelings that arise in each person can be quite volatile and intense. These emotions even have the potential to filter into many other areas of our lives. That is why it is important to take ownership of our own individual contributions to the breakdown, as well as learn how to communicate our struggles with our respective partner both kindly and in a productive way.
One of the best things you can do if you and your partner are having relationship difficulties, is to learn how to engage in constructive conflict with one another. Many couples fear conflict because they assume it is a sign that the relationship is doomed or at least heading in that direction; however, most couples counsellors rather advocate for healthy conflict that is used as a tool to resolve issues and reach a common ground between the partners involved. Healthy conflict is a difficult relationship skill to master, and it is much easier to achieve with the help of a relationship psychotherapist.
Our Kitchener therapists are experienced in holding the space for couples to air out their thoughts and feelings in connection with their relationship. Further than that, we assist couples with working on rebuilding the relationship – provided it is the goal of each individual in the relationship.
What does it mean to “do the work” ?
When it comes to working with couples, most couples counsellors will agree that it is difficult to love and be loved in a healthy and life-affirming way. There is a significant amount of work that is required to maintain a healthy relationship that will not only survive, but also thrive!
The “work” that is often referred to, is just as much the inner work that is required on an individual level as it is the work that needs to take place within the relationship. It involves developing better communication skills that show your partner they’re valued, respected and wanted in the relationship, as well as working on better conflict management for when conflict does arise. And trust us, it always does!
The reality is, that when there are two people with competing goals and dreams, there will undoubtedly be conflict and a need to compromise or concede for the good of the relationship. Neither one of you should have to totally concede your needs to the other. But that being said, if no compromise can be found within the relationship then you need to find alternative ways of having those needs met that work for both of you. If no solution can be found within your comfort zone, it could be that you should consider expanding your comfort zone.
Sometimes though, it is hard to determine whether more work needs to be put into the relationship, or whether it is a toxic relationship that you need to let go of.
This is what makes relationships “work.” And it is continuous and all relationships have it.
What is the goal of therapy for couples?
Most often, relationships fall apart when there is an unwillingness to think non-judgmentally about the feelings and thoughts of the other person. Usually, this happens when we feel so hurt that we react defensively as a coping mechanism. The goal of couples’ therapy, broadly speaking, is to soften these reactive defences just enough to make it possible to have open and honest conversations about how each partner is feeling and what their thoughts are.
During couples’ therapy, our Kitchener therapists create a non-judgmental environment in which couples are able to speak openly about the relationship issues and how they have been affected. Following which, each individual’s emotional and psychological needs will be acknowledged before we start exploring the ways in which each person’s needs may be met.
What to expect from COCA counselling services, Waterloo
Initially, your Kitchener therapists will get to know the two of you as a couple and hear from both of you the primary issues. Sometimes couples are surprised that this initial stage doesn’t merely focus on the immediate problems between them. Instead, a thorough assessment of the good and the bad, the past, the present and the future, is completed in order to understand the systemic makeup of the problem.
The therapy for couples itself will focus on the strengths of the couple as individuals and as a team. The aim of our Kitchener therapists is to help the couple to create shared treatment goals which will help inform the treatment plan. This can take place in the form of in-person sessions, or, alternatively, COCA offers online relationship counselling for couples who may find it more convenient and comfortable to have sessions in their own home space.