What is Relationship Therapy?

Allison Boelcke
Allison Boelcke
Relationship therapy aims to address problematic issues within a couple's relationship.
Relationship therapy aims to address problematic issues within a couple's relationship.

Relationship therapy is a form of psychotherapy, a broadly defined type of psychology that generally refers to using communication between a therapist and client to assess and solve issues. It is performed by a trained therapist who communicates with groups of clients in order to help resolve conflicts and issues within their relationships. Types of relationships can include couples, families, coworkers, or any other groups who may need professional assistance in learning how to communicate effectively, handle disagreements without escalation, or deal with any personal underlying issues that cause distress within the relationship. Relationship therapy is usually short-term, around 12 sessions, with clear goals in mind to have accomplished by the end.

Relationship therapy can be used to improve workplace dynamics.
Relationship therapy can be used to improve workplace dynamics.

A relationship therapist meets with patients and discusses problems each of the individuals may be having that affect the relationship in question, such as infidelity, substance abuse, or even just simple personality conflicts. During a relationship therapy session, a therapist typically will have clients discuss which issues are the most problematic to the relationship and then offer solutions for them to enact. Usually, a therapist will assign exercises as “homework” to the clients for them to complete after each session, such as verbally explaining to one another how certain behaviors make them feel rather than letting it lead to yelling arguments. Exercises differ greatly depending on the specific techniques a therapist feels are most effective in his or her practice.

Relationship therapy might deal with anger issues affecting a couple.
Relationship therapy might deal with anger issues affecting a couple.

There are life circumstances in which relationship therapy may be most beneficial. For instance, a significant life-changing event, such as the first birth of a child or a death in the family, can cause tension in a relationship between spouses or parents and children. Therapy does not necessarily have to be used for serious circumstances exclusively. It can also be used for improving the dynamics of workplace relationships by having a therapist meet with sets of coworkers and discuss ways to improve teamwork or simply give advice on how they can learn to communicate and get along better.

A couple that has tension or communication problems within the relationship should think about exploring some form of therapy.
A couple that has tension or communication problems within the relationship should think about exploring some form of therapy.

Generally in a therapy setting, the objective of the therapist is to offer an unbiased, objective assessment of a relationship situation. He or she does not pick sides but instead offers strategies on how to keep a relationship healthy and functional. At times, one client could potentially unknowingly suffer from a mental or emotional problem, such as depression, that contributes to problems in his or her relationships. A relationship therapist’s job is to recognize the problem and offer helpful treatment options as well as teach family or group members how to cope with the other person. The therapy procedures and advice are tailored for each individual case.

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Discussion Comments

burcinc

There are some steps that couples can take before reaching the therapy stage. My wife and I tried to resolve our differences by talking but didn't feel that we got anywhere. The same issues and arguments would come up again and again.

We also took some courses on relationships and communication and that really opened up our eyes. We realized that we actually had a core issue and the other problems and arguments were all about that. It was through the courses that we decided that maybe we should seek some professional help and talk to a therapist.

It didn't work out with our first therapist. We both felt that we weren't getting our issues across or the therapist was discussing issues that didn't relate to us really. Our second therapist worked out great though. We have hit it off with her. We are still working on some things, but our relationship is definitely much healthier than it was before therapy.

turquoise

Going for therapy is unfortunately an awkward thing for many people, but it really can be very helpful.

My husband and I went for relationship therapy last year. We are both very sensitive people, so if we criticize each other about anything, we both become offended and upset with each other. So small tiffs were becoming big issues when they didn't need to be. The counseling did a lot of good in this regard. I can say that we both learned the right way to communicate and express our concerns about each other in a way that is not offensive or judgmental.

I'm so happy that we took up the courage to go and talk about these issues with a therapist. I would definitely recommend couples to go and discuss their concerns before it gets out hand and damages the relationship further.

anon84792

I find venting does the trick after a good rant I do not take unnecessary problems out on my husband.

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    • Relationship therapy aims to address problematic issues within a couple's relationship.
      Relationship therapy aims to address problematic issues within a couple's relationship.
    • Relationship therapy can be used to improve workplace dynamics.
      Relationship therapy can be used to improve workplace dynamics.
    • Relationship therapy might deal with anger issues affecting a couple.
      Relationship therapy might deal with anger issues affecting a couple.
    • A couple that has tension or communication problems within the relationship should think about exploring some form of therapy.
      A couple that has tension or communication problems within the relationship should think about exploring some form of therapy.
    • Relationship therapy can help couples become more affectionate.
      Relationship therapy can help couples become more affectionate.
    • Relationship therapy often helps couples to reconnect.
      Relationship therapy often helps couples to reconnect.
    • Relationship therapy usually consists of 12 sessions with clear goals for the couple to accomplish by the end.
      Relationship therapy usually consists of 12 sessions with clear goals for the couple to accomplish by the end.