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What is Couple's Therapy?

In math 1 + 1 = 2 but in a relationship 1 + 1 = 3

Hello Danny.

Great question.

Before I get to an answer, I’d like to recommend that you refer this question to your therapist. This way you can bring the relevance of the answer back to your personal situation.

To your question, although a relationship consists of two spouses, the connection between them creates a third entity - the relationship. This entity has its own inner-mental world that includes consciousnesses, worldviews, experiences, emotions, etc.

As you probably experience in therapy, your rich psychic world in its many shades and aspects is explored, understood, and changes.

Similarly, in couple therapy the psychic worldview of the couple is at the center and we examine it, its origin and the contribution of each of the couple to its formation. In other words, couple therapy is not therapy for both spouses, but for their relationship - the shared reality which they create and identify with.

When couples' content arises in individual treatment, the client can gain meaning and understanding by looking at it from their own psyche. The treatment will deal with the patient's part and experience within the relationship.

On the other hand, when both spouses are present, it becomes possible to meet and work within the couple's shared dimension which is called their relationship.

For example, when a patient in individual therapy shares his distress in the face of his wife's insistence on traveling to her parents for vacation, the therapeutic effort will be directed at understanding the experience and its motives and contexts for the patient. He may feel that his opinion is not valued, or that he is being forced into a certain behavior, or that his desires have no right to exist. On the other hand, in couple therapy, we can also examine what in this specific interaction between this couple creates a reality of insistence and pressure.

Of course, couples therapy also touches on the individual aspect of each spouse. This is important for identifying the underlying causes for interaction, the unwritten rules that they each follow, restoring the early connection between them, and more. The nuance of couples therapy is in its unique perspective on the relationship as an autonomous entity. Both spouses may undergo excellent individual therapy while their relationship is experienced as a reality that does not benefit either of them. And that’s where couple’s therapy can help.

In math 1 + 1 = 2 but in a relationship 1 + 1 = 3


Gilad Bar-Tal - MA Psychologist

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