If you have been having difficulties in your relationship and have been unable to resolve those conflicts with your partner, you may have been considering therapy. Therapy is a very broad term encompassing a multitude of theories, techniques, and practices, and that variety can be overwhelming at first. When you are looking for therapy relating to your relationship, your first thought may be couples therapy, but there are a number of methods, including individual and group therapy, that can help you through any issues that may arise in your relationship. The benefits of therapy are numerous, and it is important to carefully consider the different types of relationship therapy available and choose the method that is right for you.
Individual therapy may seem counter intuitive when you are seeking help for your relationship, but it can be incredibly helpful. Not only will you be able to build a one-on-one relationship with your therapist that doesn’t involve your partner, mitigating some of the stress present in couples and group therapy, you will also be able to organically seek help for any other issues that may arise outside of your relationship. Individual therapy allows for infinite customization of techniques.
Individual therapy is, however, primarily focused on self-reflection on your own emotions and behaviors, and so can be ineffective if not coupled with effort and therapy from your partner’s end. Nonetheless, the power of individual therapy to help resolve relationship difficulties cannot be underestimated. In addition, many therapists who perform individual therapy also provide couples therapy or will be willing to point you towards resources should you decide to go in that direction.
Couples therapy is perhaps the first method of therapy one thinks of when considering therapy for relationship difficulties. It involves intense focus on the communication and relationship dynamics present within a couple, with the therapist serving to moderate, analyse, and provide feedback and methods that might improve the couple’s relationship.
According to Alan Behrman, a psychologist in Alpharetta, GA, “couples therapy can be beneficial for partners that are looking to change their behavior within the relationship and solve issues or problems that are emotionally charged.” Couples therapy is, however, considered more intensive than individual therapy, with both members of the couple having to put in the time, effort, and energy that therapy requires. This would not be the correct method for a couple where both partners aren’t on the same page about the need for help in their relationship.
Group therapy within a relationship context often focuses on a particular aspect of a couple’s life that causes strain on their relationship. For example, if you and your partner are experiencing relationship strain due to difficulty conceiving or a recent death in your family, finding other couples struggling with the same issues can be validating and offer unique strategies that would not have come up in an individual or couples therapy context. Where group therapy differs from a support group is in the fact that group therapy is generally guided by a therapist, psychologist, or other professional.
Group therapy has several challenges unique to its format. Not only is there the difficulty of finding the right therapist to guide the group, but other members participating in group therapy can easily make it more difficult to heal and get the most out of your treatment. On the other hand, group therapy can be highly effective for couples in isolating and painful situations, providing a community of people in similar circumstances and support beyond the patient-therapist relationship. If you decide that you want to try group therapy, it is most effective when combined with individual or couples therapy.
In recent years, online therapy has become far more prominent and incredibly popular. Online therapy can include any combination of individual, couples, and group therapy and can offer more flexibility around your lifestyle. You can also have access to therapists who you may not have been able to see in person, a boon if you live outside of a larger town or city.
Choosing online therapy has its disadvantages, of course. Some may find it difficult to connect as easily to their therapist when they aren’t meeting face-to-face. The lack of separation between the therapeutic location and your everyday life could cause tensions brought up in therapy to linger, a major concern when talking about relationship therapy.
Whatever form of therapy you choose, whether individual, couples, or group, whether in person or online, it is important to consider all your options carefully before you begin. By considering the advantages and disadvantages of each of the forms of relationship therapy, you will be able to begin your journey to a healthier and more fulfilling relationship with your partner in whatever form that takes.