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Couple Therapy

Improve your relationship to avoid divorce

Christophe Dubois

Written by Psychotherapist Christophe Dubois on 10 January 2022

Reviewed by our scientific team

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What is couple therapy?

Couples therapy is focused on addressing one or more major issues or decisions that a couple is trying to resolve or make.

Usually both partners attend the sessions together, but in some cases the therapist may suggest that some sessions continue separately. In general, the most recurring difficulties are related to relationship problems, i.e., how both partners behave toward each other and how they feel about each other. Problems of sexuality or emotional attachment are also often discussed.

If the couple has children, various issues related to them may be a concern, such as divorce and how to deal with it. Similarly, a couple may wish to seek advice when their children leave the family home (either for education or to spread their wings).

In cases of divorce, there is also parent counseling, which is different from couple therapy. The goal is to think together about what to say, how to behave and how to deal with the children.

The couples therapist is the specialist for couple therapy and may be a psychologist, psychiatrist, psychotherapist, sex therapist or specialized therapist. Different therapeutic approaches are possible: psychoanalytic couples therapy, systems therapy, humanistic therapy or strategic therapy.

What are the goals of couple therapy?

  • To examine and understand what unites the couple and what does not unite them
  • Improving communication between the two parties
  • Discussing relevant difficulties in their relationship
  • Helping to resolve issues related to the children
  • Learning to handle separation more calmly
  • Learning how to deal with their child(ren) after divorce (how to announce it and what attitude to take)

How many sessions are needed?

Each session lasts approximately one hour. The total number of sessions needed depends on the couple's demand and thus their goals. However, it also depends on the specific request of each couple and their respective wishes. It is possible that the specialist will understand exactly what a couple needs from the first session. For some situations a single session is sufficient, for others it may take several months. The pace is adjusted to the situation; it may be weekly, monthly, depending on the demand.

Who is couples therapy for?

Couples therapy is for both couples who have been together for a long time or couples who are just starting to get together. Therapy can focus on understanding the situation the partners are in, wondering what is driving the partners apart, finding a way to come to peace, and even preparing for a more peaceful separation. In addition, it can help improve communication between the two partners and help resolve certain issues.

Note: The term "doctor" is used for brevity and may include health professionals too.

1. Mayo Clinic staff. (2019). Marriage Counseling, Récupéré le 9 juin 2021 du site Mayo Clinic : ,

2. Jeff Hinton, W., West, C., Grames, H., Adams, M.A. (2013). Marriage and family therapy: examining the impact of licensure on an evolving profession. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy (Vol 39, Iss 1, p 112-126)

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