Couples Therapy

Couples Therapy

Are you wondering if your relationship would benefit from therapy?

Trouble in relationships is not uncommon.  The pressures of the last couple of years, on top of the usual conflicts in any relationship, have sent many couples in search of assistance to address concerns.  Thankfully, the research on couples’ counseling shows much greater satisfaction with the assistance received these days versus just a few decades ago.  Add to that, a declining divorce rate in the US over the last decade, and we have a much more hopeful picture for relationships than we are generally led to believe.

Here at Phenix, we approach couples’ work differently than most practices.  We have many reasons for our approach:

1)Our mission focuses on deep transformation, not just problem-solving.  Studies show that couples can gain vital relationship skills and work on their group dynamic fairly quickly when attending therapy together – leading to increased satisfaction and less conflict.  However, what we are finding is that over time – unresolved issues within the individuals cause the couple to slip back into dysfunctional patterns, leaving them feeling hopeless and frustrated.

2) A major concern in the field of marriage and family counseling is the issue of abusive relationships.  Ethics codes for all types of therapists have been clarified in recent years to explicitly discourage couples’ therapy with relationships that include domestic violence.  Unfortunately, when couples attend sessions together, it can be difficult to detect and/or safely confront domestic violence, leaving the therapist contributing to the dangerous situation!

3) Research from John Gottman tells us the average couple waits six years after trouble begins to seek counseling.  When there is such significant lag time between onset and therapy, relational safety is most likely compromised, making openness and honesty in the therapy space together extremely difficult.  Dysfunctional habits can be so deeply ingrained that sessions become focused on simply refereeing these damaging behaviors versus the deep transformation required to create a healthy, connected relationship.  So often, we have sat with individuals wounded by past trauma or whose childhoods were devoid of relational role models, leaving them ill equipped to build a healthy relationship despite the best of intentions.  Imagine two electricians showing up to install an electrical system in a new build but they are missing their tools.  They have the skill and the knowledge – as soon as they get the proper tools, they’re ready to accomplish the goal.  Now imagine two well-meaning souls showing up to a job site for the same task when they’ve never been trained or they have a traumatic history with electricity that has not been adequately addressed.  Each person would need to attend specialized training and obtain supervised experience in order to come together to get the job done.

Overall, we have come to discover that the most efficient approach which fits our transformative style is to work with each person individually first before moving into couples’ work.  We address the underlying dynamics that attracted each person to the relational style they are in as well as the root issues which keep them participating (actively or passively) in the dysfunctional dance that brought them to therapy.  It’s both partners taking ownership and doing the hard work of unpacking their story, grieving their losses, building their loving adult selves and acquiring the needed relational tools, to build the deeply fulfilling relationship they long for. 

Not everyone wants that.  Some are perfectly happy with learning how to reduce conflict and maintain a mutually beneficial life partnership that does not demand excessive levels of vulnerability and intimacy.  That is a perfectly viable option!  Once you know what outcome you want, you can make an informed choice of therapist.

Now that you understand the options, if you are interested in the path of personal transformation that leads to deeply connected and fulfilling relationship, you’re in the right place.  Individuals can each work with the same therapist or with different therapists in the practice.  Confidentiality is maintained in this initial stage for each individual.  Along the way, sessions may occasionally involve both parties when a partner is beneficial to addressing an individual’s growth.  At a collaboratively decided point, individuals are ready to transition to couple-focused work.  They will be given full disclosure of the changes in therapeutic relationship (primarily the switch from individual confidentiality to shared confidentiality) so that they can make decisions about therapy which feel most comfortable to them.

In any case, it all starts with a free consult to ensure that we are the best fit for your needs so contact us today to get started!

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Orlando, FL

info@phenixcounseling.com
(407) 476-6041

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