Couples therapy, also occasionally referred to as marriage counseling, is a form of psychotherapy geared towards improving intimate relationships. Couples therapy can address a range of issues including affairs, interpersonal conflict, lies and deception, forgiveness and more.
Developed by Ellyn Bader and Peter Pearson in the 1980s, the developmental model of couples therapy does not focus on pathology but instead emphasizes the role of development in relationships. This model compares adulthood development of relationships to childhood procession through typical developmental stages. According to the model, it is natural for relationships to change as partners spend more time together and develop as a team.
Because partners do not always change in the same way or at the same time, potential challenges may develop over the course of the relationship. Conflict may arise when couples are not able to manage a new developmental stage, for example, or when each partner is in a different stage.
Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) is a well-known humanistic approach to psychotherapy formulated in the 1980’s and developed in tandem with the science of adult attachment, a profound developmental theory of personality and intimate relationships. This science has expanded our understanding of individual dysfunction and health as well as the nature of love relationships and family bonds. Attachment views human beings as innately relational, social and wired for intimate bonding with others. The EFT model prioritizes emotion and emotional regulation as the key organizing agents in individual experience and key relationship interactions.
Although a person’s sexual or romantic orientation or gender identity may not be a source of distress, people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, asexual, or any other orientation or gender identity may find that the social stigma of living as a minority is a source of stress or anxiety.
Despite rapidly growing cultural acceptance of diverse sexual and romantic orientations and gender identifications, oppression, discrimination, and marginalization of LGBTQ people persists. Coping with discrimination and oppression, coming out to one’s family, and sorting out an “authentic” sense of self in the face of social expectations and pressures can lead to higher levels of depression, anxiety, substance use, and other mental health concerns for LGBTQ people.
The Psychobiological Approach to Couples Therapy® (PACT) relies on the application of research in neuroscience and attachment theory to improve interactions between couples. This approach, which was developed by Stan Tatkin, aims to help couples notice their reactions as they occur and learn how to better address one another's attachment needs. Couples seeking professional help to address relationship issues and/or develop or strengthen a long-term relationship may find PACT a helpful approach.
Sex therapy is a type of talk therapy that’s designed to help individuals and couples address medical, psychological, personal, or interpersonal factors impacting sexual satisfaction. The goal of sex therapy is to help people move past physical and emotional challenges to have a satisfying relationship and pleasurable sex life.
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