Couples Therapy

Couples Therapy, also known as Marriage Counseling, is a specialized form of therapy designed to improve communication and resolve conflicts between partners. Through guided sessions, couples work together to address underlying issues and strengthen their relationship bonds.

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Therapists help couples identify negative patterns and develop healthier ways of relating to each other. Couples Therapy provides a safe space for open dialogue, enhancing emotional intimacy, and fostering a more fulfilling partnership.

What is Couples Therapy?

Couples therapy is a form of therapy that focuses on improving the relationship between a couple and resolving issues within it. Relationships are complicated and take a lot of effort from both partners to maintain in the long run. 

When couples face difficulties in managing their relationship due to various interpersonal or external factors, they turn to couples therapy as a means to rebuild their relationship. 

Couples therapists are trained to help equip the partners with the right kind of tools to solve problems, improve communication and strengthen the bond within a relationship. Couples therapy has a diverse scope. Experts in this field are qualified to help couples from varying backgrounds, types of relationships, age groups and more. It is important to remember that couples therapy is most effective when both partners show willingness to work on their relationship. 

Types of Couples Therapy

Couples therapy does not follow a singular trajectory with respect to guiding couples. It recognizes that every relationship is different and thus takes various shapes and forms in order to flexibly apply itself appropriately based on the challenges that a couple is facing. Here are some of the most prominent types of couples therapy:


Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)

This type of couples therapy is aimed at improving emotional attachment between partners in a relationship. It looks to identify and understand the underlying emotions that drive the decisions made by each partner and helps each partner work on changing their emotional pattern and reconnect with each other. 

Gottman Method

This method aims to equip both partners with problem solving skills and conflict resolution strategies that enable them to mitigate and prevent future issues in the relationship. This has shown to improve the quality of the relationship by building a deeper understanding, trust and level of intimacy between partners. 

Behavioural Therapy

Behavioural couples therapy (BCT) is a type of therapy that helps foster continuous positive interactions between partners by allowing them to practise and reinforce constructive behaviours that promote stability and fulfilment. It further highlights the need to discard behaviours that are deemed negative, through regular guidance. 

Ellen Wachtel’s Approach

This approach highlights the importance of utilizing one’s characteristic strengths to enhance the quality of their relationship. It looks to reflect on the positive aspects of the relationship and use that as a foundation. It does not discard the conflicts between the couple, but rather provides a positive reinforcement to build together on aspects of the relationship that both find satisfactory. 

Psychodynamic Couple’s Therapy

This form of couple therapy looks to explore deeper personal aspects of individuals such as their hopes and fears. It recognizes that each person has different fears and aspirations and that it can influence the dynamics of a relationship. By engaging in open conversation and exploring these factors, it allows both partners to gain clarity and work together to resolve existing issues. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

This form of therapy asserts that there are some thought patterns and behaviours that negatively affect a person’s interaction with their partner. By analysing these behaviours, cognitive behavioural therapy helps partners adjust these patterns over time. 

Discernment Counselling

This is a specific type of couples counselling that focuses on guiding couples who are unsure of whether they want to remain in the relationship or not. Usually, in circumstances where one partner wants to save the relationship while the other wants to end it, discernment counselling can be especially beneficial at helping couples discover the aspects of the relationship that require attention. It helps them consider the various options they have before making the ultimate decision on whether to continue with the relationship. Discernment counsellors understand that issues can be multifaceted and may involve problems such as domestic abuse, substance dependency, issues related to children and so on, and act accordingly. 

Imago Relationship Therapy

This type of couple therapy functions on the foundation that a person’s unconscious childhood image of love influences the way they approach their relationship. This image could be the result of unmet childhood needs, sensitivities, trauma and other factors. Since imago relationship therapists believe that this image is projected in a relation, they focus intently on guiding a person to bring the image into consciousness and help them use that to enhance the quality of their relationship. 

Narrative Therapy

This is a specific type of couples therapy that revolves around the stories that a person tells themselves which shapes their worldview and studies how it impacts their relationship. It argues that these stories guide a person’s behaviour in a relationship. However, when these stories don’t match reality, it can cause conflicts between partners. This is often observed in couples who blame each other for the shortcomings of their relationship. Thus, narrative therapists help couples remove existing narratives and form positive narratives around themselves and their relationships to foster a healthy environment in the relationship. 

Solution-focused Therapy

Solution-focused couples therapy is aimed at resolving specific problems in a relationship that couples want to resolve, usually on an immediate basis. Instead of addressing a range of issues that affect relationships, individuals normally approach therapists with a well-defined problem. Over a few sessions, the therapist aims to solve what is often a short-term relationship goal.


Reflective Listening

This is a type of couples therapy that is designed towards helping couples improve their communication skills. In these therapy sessions, the expert enables a safe and healthy environment where each couple can communicate openly with each other. Further, it helps people change to a personal perspective when interacting with their partner, helping them gain transparency over their own feelings as well as their partner’s. 

Relational Life Therapy

Relational life couple therapy is a more general form of therapy that aims to achieve balance and satisfaction in broad aspects of a relationship. This could include elements such as communication, transparency and accountability, intimacy and more. These aspects of relationships are often influenced by societal standards and norms. Thus, by dispelling myths about ideal relationships and focusing on the honest and dynamic nature of strong relationships, it helps couples celebrate their compatibility and engage in a fulfilling relationship in the long run. 

Couples Counseling Vs. Couples Therapy

While couples counselling and couples therapy sound similar and are often used interchangeably, they function in different ways.  

From a clinical perspective, couples therapy addresses specific mental conditions such as anxiety and depression, and how it impacts relationships. Couples counselling on the other hand focuses on more general, everyday conflicts between people in relationships like sharing of responsibilities, communication issues and more. 

What to Expect in Couples/Marriage Counseling?

While the method of counselling may vary depending on the style of the counsellor and the specific situation a couple is in, it generally follows a certain path. 

Getting Started

It begins with some standard questions on the relationship, regarding its history and values, positive and negative aspects of it, issues that need to be addressed, mental health troubles as well as personal, family and cultural background. This forms the foundation of future discussion sessions between the counsellor and the couple, both individually and together. It allows the expert to establish treatment goals and structure for upcoming sessions. 

Ongoing Sessions

The counsellor provides a personalised, comprehensive plan with goals, techniques and measures designed to improve the relationship. They help individuals gain perspective into their relationship dynamics and problems that arise from it. This allows them to perceive their relationship in a different light. They then guide the clients towards adopting behavioural and communication practices that are beneficial for the strength of the relationship. Counsellors are also likely to give homework exercises to improve the bond between each partner.   

Couples Therapy Exercises Outside Sessions

While developing clarity on the relationship is a great first step, couples are encouraged to engage in positive communication and behaviours for long term enrichment of their relationship. They are usually assigned homework that highlights the importance of gratitude, tones of communication, and other personal as well as interpersonal skills that help them connect better with each other. 

Benefits of Couples Therapy

Couples Therapy is known for improving the overall quality of a relationship, but operates with various specific goals that help a relationship grow holistically. Some of the benefits of couples therapy include: 

Improved Communication Skills

Communication gaps are often the major contributor in relationship issues and thus, therapists focus on improving the quality of communication between couples. They provide techniques to facilitate healthy communication, based on specific issues that a couple are facing. 

Strengthened Bond

One of the key goals of couples therapy is making both partners feel like they’re part of the same team. This empowers them to work collaboratively towards their relationship goals and support each other through this journey. 

Build (or Rebuild) Trust

Trust is one the most important pillars of a relationship. When it is weakened or broken, it can create conflict between partners. Emotionally focused therapy methods are thus used to rebuild trust between partners through open communication, adjustments in thought patterns and more. 

Find a Better Relationship Dynamic (in Less Time)

When it comes to relationship dynamics, it is difficult for people to identify factors that cause conflicts. And thus, finding solutions to a problem while dealing with it can be stressful. This is where a couples counsellor comes in. They can help you recognize underlying issues and shift the dynamics of the relationship.

Understand Each Other Better

In relationships, it is possible that a person does not have a comprehensive grasp of their partner’s evolving hopes, aspirations, interests, values etc. Couples therapy can help a person understand themselves as well as their partner better. It does so by helping people express their hopes, fears, beliefs and more. 

Resolve Conflicts

People often opt for couples counselling to resolve issues surrounding communication, trust, finances, intimacy, changes in personal life, mental health conditions and more. A therapist is best equipped to provide the optimal tools to find solutions. 

Terminate Dysfunctional Behaviour

Couples are often unable to locate their own dysfunctional behaviours that negatively impact the relationship. A therapist thus enables them to identify these behaviours and change them. 

Learn Skills

Couples therapy is not just about finding solutions to existing issues, it provides methods and guidance on how to improve satisfaction and happiness in a relationship over time. It helps prevent and manage issues down the road.  

Improve Relationship Satisfaction

Couples therapists spend time with both partners trying to find unique ways through which they enjoy their relationship. By allowing couples to bring out the best in each other and celebrate the positive aspects of their time together, they help improve relationship satisfaction. 

What Couples Counselling Addresses?

Couples counselling addresses issues in a relationship that revolve around the following: 

  • Trust
  • Communication
  • Finances
  • Intimacy
  • Emotions
  • Important events in personal life
  • Grief from traumatic events
  • Illness
  • Parenting
  • Family conflicts
  • Mental health conditions
  • Addiction

and a host of other aspects of relationships. 

Who Should Consider Couples Therapy?

In broad terms any couple that is looking to resolve conflict, find ways to prevent future issues and improve the quality of their relationship can consider couples counselling. That said, different people can gain dramatically different outcomes from couples therapy. 

A young couple may have several premarital relationship issues with respect to exploring how they’d like to take the relationship forward while an older couple who have been together for decades might need therapy to find ways to reignite their relationship. 

People can often find it difficult to open up and be expressive about their relationship with those around them. This could be due to societal restrictions, taboos and fear of judgement. It can also be a daunting task for non-binary people or those in non-heterosexual relationships to seek help and find adequate support. In such cases, authorised couples therapists can be a great source to receive inclusive and supportive assistance to relationship issues. 

Success Rates of Couples Counseling

The success of couples counselling depends on the continued commitment to the process by both partners. When couples follow the methods recommended by the therapist, couples therapy has proven to be very effective. When individuals show a desire to work on themselves, learn new practices with the guidance of the therapist and implement them in their relationships, couple therapy is much more likely to be successful. It is also important to remember that for some people, couples therapy takes longer to bear fruit while others may experience positive results instantly. 

When Should You Go for Couples Therapy?

When couples find themselves in certain situations within a relationship that lead to conflicts, it could be a sign that it is time to visit a couples therapist. For example, if a couple is fighting over the same issue continually without any resolution, that is a good reason to visit a therapist. When there are disagreements on tough decisions around work, finances, family, children etc or when couples are considering splitting up, it can also be a good indicator. 

Further, major issues such as financial strain, infidelity or traumatic events can also require couples therapy in order to find the adequate solution. Some other issues include intimacy, communication and emotional connection. People in relatively healthy relationships can also check up with counsellors to refocus on the positive aspects of relationships and manage any future issues. 

How Long Should Couples Therapy Last?

There is no fixed duration or time line for couples therapy. The time taken for a couple to resolve issues may take a few weeks to months or even years, in some cases. The duration of the therapy often depends on the willingness of individuals who participate in it as well as their openness to implement new practices as recommended by the therapist. Some couples, however, also take a one-off counselling session from time to time to keep track of their relationship dynamic. 

How to Find a Couples Therapist?

When looking for a couples therapist, ensure that they are authorised or licensed to conduct the counselling. Make sure to check for their experience and credentials before jumping in. While searching for counsellors online is generally fine, it is best to look for referrals from those close friends or family who have taken couples therapy before, to find the right fit. You could also conduct an initial discussion with therapists to evaluate whether they would fit your requirements. Don’t hesitate moving from one therapist to another if you do not feel comfortable. MindTalk has over _______ qualified therapists who are trained to assist couples of various backgrounds achieve contentment in their relationships. 


What questions should I ask about couples therapy?

You can ask questions about a therapist’s approach and experience, the duration and frequency of the therapy, its approach to privacy, success metrics and any other personal question you may have.


What is the most common problem addressed in couples therapy?

Couples therapy addresses a range of issues within a relationship including communication, trust, infidelity, intimacy, parenting, difficulties in managing life transitions and more. 

What is the most effective therapy for couples?

Effective therapies vary for different couples and circumstances. In most cases, different techniques such as Emotionally Focused Therapy, Gottman Method, Behavioral Therapy, Ellen Wachtel’s Approach and other methods are used in combination with each other. 

What should I focus on in couples therapy?

During couples therapy it is important to commit to making progress on various fronts including communication, trust, emotions etc as per the therapists guidance. 

Can couples therapy save a toxic relationship?

It is possible that couples therapy can provide the means and opportunities to fix the cracks in a difficult relationship. However, its success depends on how much the couple are willing to work on repairing their relationship. 

Can couples therapy fix a broken relationship?

If a couple is determined to resolve core issues within a relationship, couples therapy can help facilitate the healing process in a broken relationship. 

What should I do first in couples therapy?

As you start couples therapy, it is important to be honest about the various aspects of your relationship and speak openly about the conflicts you are facing with your therapist. After that, ensure that you are actively listening to the therapist’s recommendations and your partner’s thoughts and feelings. 

What's the difference between couples therapy and couples counselling?

From a clinical perspective, couples therapy targets specific mental conditions such as anxiety and depression and examines their impact on relationships. In contrast, couples counselling deals with common interpersonal conflicts, including communication issues and shared responsibilities, in everyday relationship dynamics.

Why is couple therapy important?

Couples therapy provides an open and supportive environment for couples to discuss their issues and facilitate honest communication around it. It helps improve the quality of their relationship and strengthen trust between partners. 

What theories are used in couples therapy?

Several theories including Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), Gottman Method, Behavioral Therapy, Ellen Wachtel’s Approach, Psychodynamic Couple’s Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) are used in couples therapy. 

Why Mindtalk?

Mindtalk is a leading mental health provider from the Cadabams family bringing new-age therapeutic experiences. ‍