There's an unfortunate stigma attached to the idea of couples therapy (and therapy in general for that matter) that turns many people away from this potentially relationship-saving service. Some couples refuse to even entertain the possibility of attending, while others might reluctantly go, but don't believe in its efficacy or importance.
We go to doctors when we're sick, bring our cars to a mechanic when they need repairs, and take our iPhones to the Apple store when they're on the fritz --- so why not bring our relationships in for a tune-up when we’re having trouble communicating with one another?
Especially here in America, individualism and independence are prized more so than in other more collectivist cultures. Media depictions of couples therapy are often oversimplified, made humorous, and belie the amount of real work necessary." In turn, seeking help in personal matters can be seen as a sign of weakness. But couples who can manage to free themselves from judgment (both from the outside world and from within) open themselves up to a world of possibilities for interpersonal improvement.
Couples therapy sessions ensure that both partners are on the same page now and will be in the future. They'll also help to open up lines of communication, reconcile negative feelings harbored from past events, and develop new strategies for handling interpersonal hardship. It's also only the business of those involved --- the therapist and the two partners. No one else has to know.
You may think -- “but isn't couples therapy typically a last resort before divorce?” -- not necessarily. Couples should always be seeking ways to connect, communicate, and enjoy their time with one another.
This doesn’t mean that couples therapy is easy. Communicating can be hard - after all, you’ve had trouble connecting all this time, right?
Emotionally Focused Therapy
Couples therapy is undergoing a serious transformation. Today, rather than simply providing strategies for coping with conflict, couples therapy focuses on identifying memories which, positive or negative, shape relationship perception. EFT involves questioning these memories and related emotions, and when necessary reframing them in the mind. With the help of a licensed psychotherapist, couples can use this approach to systematically discover negative emotions that have been ignored and avoided, bring them to the surface, and resolve them through effective communication.
Konstantin Lukin, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist in Ridgewood and Hoboken, NJ. He has extensive clinical and research experience spanning individuals of all ages, in both inpatient and outpatient settings. He specializes in men’s issues, couple’s counseling, and relationship problems. His therapeutic approach focuses on providing support and practical feedback to help patients effectively address personal challenges. He integrates complementary modalities and techniques to offer a personalized approach tailored to each patient. He has been trained in cognitive-behavioral, dialectical behavior, schema-focused, and emotionally focused therapy, and has also been involved with research projects throughout his career, including two National Institute of Mental Health-funded studies. He is a member of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, New Jersey Psychological Association, Northeast Counties Association of Psychologists, New York State Psychological Association, The International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy, The New York Center for Emotionally Focused Therapy, the International OCD Foundation, the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science (ACSB) and a regular contributor to Psychology Today.