April 15, 2013: Common Themes in Couples Therapy

by Dr. David Reynolds, Pastoral Counseling Services Center Director

Couples TherapyIn today’s hectic society, couples often find that their bond can be affected by expected and unexpected challenges. They can even undergo severe alterations to the loving, symbiotic relationship they once knew. Therapists know that one of our most important roles is to help couples to recognize these external triggers and consider how they distress the dynamics within their relationship.

Certainly, every couple’s concerns and challenges are unique. However, we do find that similar themes tend to play a part in most couples state of crisis. Below are just a few of these common themes for your review and consideration, either as a professional, as a pastoral counselor, or as half of a couple!

  • Do not run from intimacy. One of the most important elements of a successful couple is for each individual to be aware of and to share their feelings, thoughts, dreams and aspirations with their other half. The first step is to spend introspective time recognizing one’s own perspective and consider how to verbalize this standpoint to your significant other. Then, embrace the intimacy of sharing these personal pieces with your partner.
  • Change self, not your partner. One of the most common fallacies among couples is that you can somehow transform your partner to meet your needs. In the end, you must remember that you are the only person that you can change. So spend that energy identifying how you can grow to best cultivate your relationship, and then trust your partner to do the same.
  • Accept your partner. The media has created the ideal image for just about every human role: from husband to wife, mom to daughter, neighbor to friend. Many individuals focus their energy on what they think their significant other should be in light of this ideal image. However, very rarely does that ideal image ring true. In many cases, that ideal which is sought after falls short of what is needed for a fulfilling, multi-dimensional life. Accept your partner for who they are, just as you need he or she to accept you for everything you are.

To explore this topic further, Pastoral Counseling Services invites you to register for our upcoming seminar The Fragile Pact: Couples in Treatment on May 17. From 8:45am-12:00pm, Dr. Doug Stephens will focus on a clinical model for therapists and cover engaging couples in conflict and creating and sustaining interactional change. This morning session is currently awaiting approval for 3 Category I Continuing Education Units. Then, from 1:00pm-4:00pm, the afternoon session will focus on exploring pastoral models for couples in treatment and is recommended for clergy participants. Please visit the PCS Upcoming Events for more details on the 4th Annual Conference on Spirituality and Psychotherapy.