Couples Therapy in San Antonio

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Couples Therapy in San Antonio

The pandemic was stressful on us both individually and as couples as cracks in relationships could no longer be avoided or ignored. For many couples the situation magnified communication difficulties and led to heated arguments. The pandemic seems to have pushed all sensitivities and annoyances in a relationship to the surface, leaving no way to not deal with issues now exposed and clear to see.

Prior to the pandemic a lot of couples had to schedule time together but once everything changed the couples who survived typically found new ways to connect, including having real conversations for the first time. Many couples have found more connection and gratitude in their everyday life, which has remained with them and the relationship as the pandemic has marched on. For many couples, the pandemic actually has had a way of creating their relationship and refocusing on what’s most important to them. Couples therapy can help partners clarify uncertainty or ambivalence about their relationship, heal wounds, and better function together as a couple.

Common Topics Explored
Goals and Objectives
Ground Rules
Therapy for Happy Couples

Most couples experience conflict and difficulty, it is normal to occasionally argue, and in fact excessive avoidance of conflict can be a problem in itself. However, repeated unresolved conflict is unproductive, and many couples experience significantly more conflict and distress than they need to. Also some couples experience drifting apart over time and without meaning to, find themselves feeling disconnected from one another, which can be lonely and isolating. Couples therapy can help couples to reconnect and revive their bond to one another, so that your relationship is a source of support and wellbeing.

Couples seek therapy for many different reasons including coping with life’s changes, managing and resolving conflict, improving their parenting skills and dealing effectively with separation, divorce and more. If you’re wondering, does couples therapy work, firstly note that ‘couples therapy’ and ‘couples counseling’ usually mean the same thing and there is no difference between them on a technical level. A Licensed and qualified therapist can effectively help couples in discovering the underlying causes that lie beneath the surface of their disagreements. In this process uncovered are the fears, emotions, and triggers that often get in the way of healthy fulfilling relationships.

Our approach to couples therapy is informed by therapies shown by research to be effective even for couples who are in significant distress, on the verge of separation, or who have been experiencing problems for a long time, as well as for couples who are less distressed or with less entrenched problems, but would like to enhance their relationship.

Common Topics Explored in Couples Therapy

Many people unfortunately approach couples therapy as a last resort and this can make the process more difficult because by this point there is often a lot of built up resentments and heated emotions to deal with. It is generally more effective to be proactive and explore couples therapy sooner rather than later, as this can make a big difference to the success of therapy.  Just know that it’s never too late (or too early) to start putting a little more effort into your relationship.

The topics explored in couples therapy can range from simple communication issues or significant disagreements to substance abuse issues and psychological disorders.  In terms of the most common issues that couples differ over, the disagreement generally center around:

  • Money
  • Housework / chores / responsibilities
  • Time / quality time / lack of time
  • Parenting
  • Sex
  • Mis-matched expectations of each other and the relationship
  • Differences in values / wishes / interests or preferences

However it should be noted though the differences center around these issues, it’s usually the couples approach to managing their differences that becomes the larger problem in the relationship.  Thus additional topics explored in couples therapy are the unproductive and ineffective things we do in relationships, that can be summed up in a handful of categories:

  • Blame or attempt to dominate
  • Disengage/withdraw
  • Resentful compliance
  • Whine
  • Denial or confusion

Improving your relationship means better management of these reactions.

Goals and Objectives of Couples Therapy

The primary objective of couples therapy is expanding your understanding and knowledge about yourself, that of your partner and the common patterns of interaction between you both.  Couples therapy becomes useful and helpful when you replace ineffective patterns and behaviors with the new skills, insight and knowledge you’ve acquired. The essential tasks of couples therapy are improving your clarity about:

  • The kind of life you and your partner seek to create together
  • The kind of partner you would like to be in effort to create the life and relationship you want to build
  • Your individual foundational contribution to becoming the kind of partner you aspire to be
  • The knowledge and skill set needed to do the above tasks

Remember, a therapist can be helpful in guiding the conversation with both partners in pinpointing the underlying issues beneath the surface disagreements. These underlying issues can be difficult to spot when you’re in the relationship, as your emotions are running and often obscuring your perspective. In couples therapy participants usually discover what is driving negative patterns in the relationship. This understanding enables participants to adjust their interactions with each other, opening the door to more effective, healthy and positive ways of relating to one another. Couples that learn how to adjust away from negative patterns when they arise, engage and share their feelings enjoy more satisfaction and intimacy in their relationships.

Ground Rules for Couples Therapy in San Antonio

Participating in couples therapy with your partner can at times make you feel vulnerable.  Emotions are running high and it can be difficult to be exposed and open about your private life with a counselor.  In these situations it’s not unusual for one of the participants to sometimes feel like their couples counselor has chosen a side.   When this happens it’s also not unusual to have the participant quit couples therapy.  While it’s common for couples to enter couples therapy wanting validation for their point of view and feeling that justice falls on their side – know Rhapsody’s counselors are trained and accredited professionals and remain neutral.

Fearing a therapist might judge you is normal, but it’s not a counselor’s role to take sides.  If there is a level of defensiveness in the relationship, one of the participants may be hyper alert to criticism.  If one of the participants is hyper alert to criticism, or if that’s already a big part of the relationship dynamic, then it can feel like whatever the therapist does just pile onto an already existing feeling (albeit unfounded).   However a  greater emphasis on one person’s concerns in a session may also cause you to think there is an imbalance – when in truth it could just be that the conversation has gone in a particular direction and there’s been more time spent unpacking that one aspect.   The goal is you would unpack the other side in the next session and counselor’s are committed to keep the focus of the conversation even over time.

If the couple uses what has been said in therapy in an argument and as a weapon when they return home, that can also trigger feelings of being ganged up on – and things can become unhinged – making one participant feel that couples therapy is no longer a neutral safe space.  If you are feeling unfairly criticised we encourage you to speak up.  Therapy is collaborative and it helps to know what the client is feeling in session so you can modify the discussion.  

Couples Therapy in San Antonio for Happy Couples

Couples therapy doesn’t always mean a relationship is in crisis and at its breaking point.  Today therapy is viewed as a sign of maturity, healthiness, and an act of self care. If you want your relationship, new or not, to go the distance,  couples therapy could help set it up for success.   This is particularly the case if people are thinking about taking a next step — moving in together or marriage — an expert can help you identify things that might come up down the road.

Even when in a relatively new and or happy relationship, you have just as much to gain from couples therapy as anyone else. Even when we believe we’re good at communicating, we could be overlooking some trickier topics like money, family and religion. For many people couples therapy is a form of health maintenance, a platform with an impartial moderator giving you space to address things in a more transparent and honest way.

Unfortunately a stigma around couples therapy being a “sign of trouble” results in a lot of people never considering it until they’re in crisis mode.  The very idea of a couple exploring therapy in happy times is challenging, but like most tough challenges in life, the earlier you explore the benefits, the more likely therapy will be effective and helpful.

If you’re saying, “’We don’t have problems, so what would we talk about?”  Know that couples exploring therapy is about getting on the same page and building strategies should issues arise.   For example, learned in couples therapy is that every relationship is part of a cycle wherein one person’s actions triggers the other person’s action, something that could accelerate into a larger issue.  Out of couples therapy, participants often become much more aware and mindful of knowing when either has entered that cycle, and how to “Take their foot off the gas” earlier in the cycle, de-escalating something that could have spiraled into a larger issue.  Couples therapy sessions help build techniques for resolving conflict and setting expectations from the start – which is helpful for all couples and can nip issues in the bud before they become harder to work through.

Next Steps for Couples Counseling in San Antonio

Couples therapy helps partners to understand each other and their relationship as a couple, in addition to developing essential relationship skills, such as trust, patience, forgiveness, communication, selflessness and stress management.  In our sessions, we will focus on the specific issues that bring you to therapy and collaborate from a place of mutual trust to identify the underlying problem beneath the issues and find the best way to approach and resolve them.

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Free Discovery Call to Talk with a Counselor

Take the first step in your wellness journey and book a free 10-20 minute discovery call with a Counselor. The Counselor will start off the call with a few questions to get to know you better, so they can make sure they’re qualified to meet your needs. This includes questions about why you’re considering counseling, how you’ve been feeling over the past few weeks, and your goals for counseling.

If possible, take a few minutes before the call to reflect on these topics, so you can have a clearer sense of your goals for counseling. But don’t worry, if you can’t verbalize the answer to any questions, our counselors know how to guide your thinking so you can figure out what to say and the Counselor will welcome you to ask questions about counseling and Rhapsody.

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