Couples counseling helps couples work through their issues in a number of ways. For example, when most couples come to counseling they’ve experienced some issues, some struggles around communication, they find that they’re in some stale issues where they just go round and round in arguments. What we refer to in couples counseling are scripts or certain repetitive arguments that couples tend to fixate on. In a script one member of the couple essentially says “red” the other member of the couple says “blue,” “really red,” “really blue,” they go round and round but no content is really exchanged, it’s nothing more than a cat chasing its own tail.
One of the things that we try to do in couples counseling in re-route those communications strategies to where the couple is actually trying to arrive at a specific solution rather than just criticizing one another.
This is another way in which couples counseling helps couples resolve some of their issues and this is through specificity. Often times, a member of the couple will criticize the other member of the couple at kind of a character-logical aspect, an overall personality aspect but this isn’t really effective. For example, one member of the couple may want their spouse to be “more healthy”, well, it’s hard to say exactly what “healthy” means, it’s hard to pin that down, however, if that member of the couple says “Hey, I’d rather you not have whisky and cigarettes for breakfast every morning” well that’s a behavior, we know what that means. So that’s where the therapist tries to help the couple really specify particular behavioral changes that they’re looking for from the other member of the couple.