Like the candle that becomes invisible when held next to the sun, Your ego will dissolve in the over-whelming force of love. Like the bitter taste that is undetectable once it is diluted by the lake, Your life’s bitterness will be as sweet as the freshest waters when mixed with love. And like the prey devoured by the eagle, your self-importance will become a glint in the eye of Love which consumes you.
We all desire a loving relationship with a loving partner. What makes it so difficult? What ways are there to heal the pain and misunderstandings which so often arise in a relationship? How do relationships develop? How does a healthy relationship function? How can we improve communication? These are some of the foremost questions addressed in couple’s counseling.
The principles of Affective-Cognitive-Behavioral Psychotherapy can be very helpful in addressing relationship problems. Just as in the case of individual counseling, it is necessary to analyze behavior and thinking as well as to understand and work through emotions.
Couple’s counseling is similar to individual counseling, except that the couple is the patient. During it people take turns discussing the problems of their relationship as well as their own individual problems, which usually impinge upon the relationship. New behaviors and better forms of communication can be discussed and practiced. Together, the couple develops a vision for themselves in their relationship and goals that they want to reach. The focus of the counseling goes beyond that of the relationship between the partners themselves and delves into the nature of previous relationships and within the families of origin. Ideally, this helps gain insight into the unspoken needs and demands made upon the partners, opening up the possibility for more conscious and flexible ways of interacting. A relationship tends to go through several stages in a process of maturing and it is the goal of couple’s counseling to further this process, leading to a more satisfying form of mutual interaction.
Couple’s counseling increases the understanding that the people have for each other, making communication easier and relieving emotional pressure. This usually occurs automatically, when both partners are present, but it can still occur, when only one partner attends, either to discuss individual problems alone, or when one partner is not interested in counseling or is unable to attend. In any case, it is often helpful, when individuals come on their own, in addition to sessions done together. Such meetings often increase the effectiveness of sessions done together.
As an American clinical psychologist living here in Munich, much of my work entails counseling couples of mixed nationalities (I speak fluent German and English). The stresses of living together for these couples can be particularly difficult, so that they seek the benefits of couple’s counseling more often.