Couples Counseling / Couples Therapy

In Downtown Chicago and Ravenswood

couples therapy chicago

Understanding Couples Counseling

Couples therapy differs from individual therapy in the sense that the relationship is the actual “client.” Work is done to improve communication patterns by helping each partner learn to listen and attentively respond to their partner. At Bergen Counseling Center, we will help open up lines of communication that have been closed by past wounds or emotional distance in the relationship. If arguments are frequent or explosive, we will work to decrease the intensity of conflict to promote healthy communication. Work may also focus on increasing emotional and physical warmth in the relationship. When communication falters and connection wanes, couples counseling can provide a lifeline.

Common reasons for couples counseling:

Communication issues
Emotional distance
Trust issues
Explosive arguments
Negative impact of children on relationship
Work/relationship balance
Boundary issues
Parenting issues

This is far from an exhaustive list of the reasons that couples seek therapy. Remember, no reason is too insignificant or insurmountable to seek help.

Popular Couples Counseling Methods

Within the landscape of therapeutic strategies, two approaches have gained significant attention for their effectiveness: The Gottman Method and Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) for couples. All of the therapists at Bergen Counseling Center have both training and experience providing couples therapy through the following modalities.

The Gottman Method: A Research-Based Approach

Developed by Drs. John and Julie Gottman, the Gottman Method is grounded in four decades of research. This evidence-based form of therapy aims to disarm conflicting verbal communication, increase intimacy, respect, and affection, remove barriers that create a feeling of stagnancy in conflicting situations, and create a heightened sense of empathy and understanding within the context of the relationship.

The Four Horsemen

Central to the Gottman Method is the concept of the “Four Horsemen,” which represent the destructive behaviors in relationships: criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. Couples learn to recognize these behaviors and replace them with healthier patterns of communication.

The Sound Relationship House

Another key component is the “Sound Relationship House” theory, which consists of nine components of healthy relationships, including trust, commitment, and shared meaning. The Gottman Method uses these elements to help couples build love maps, share fondness and admiration, and turn towards each other instead of away.

Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) for Couples

EFT, developed by Dr. Sue Johnson, is based on the science of attachment, which posits that humans are hardwired for strong bonds with others. EFT helps couples understand their attachment needs and recognize the patterns that have created emotional distance.

The Three Stages of EFT

EFT unfolds typically through three stages:

  1. De-escalation – EFT begins by identifying the negative patterns that lead to disconnection and helping partners understand their role in these patterns.
  2. Re-structuring interactions – Couples learn to express their needs and fears, which allows them to connect with and respond to each other in a more loving and constructive way.
  3. Consolidation – Finally, EFT solidifies new communication styles and coping strategies to better manage future challenges.

The Benefits of Couples Counseling

Couples counseling is not just for relationships in crisis. The benefits of counseling are vast, including improved communication, revitalized emotional connection, re-negotiated commitment, and resolved conflicts in a healthy manner.

Communication Skills

Both the Gottman Method and EFT place a heavy emphasis on improving communication. Couples learn to express themselves clearly and listen actively.

Emotional Health

Therapy provides a space for partners to process emotions and understand each other’s experiences, which is vital for emotional health and the relationship’s longevity.

Relationship Skills

Counseling equips couples with the skills needed to navigate the complexities of their relationship, encouraging a proactive approach to challenges.

Is Couples Counseling Right for Your Relationship?

Couples counseling offers valuable tools for partners navigating the complexities of their relationships. By addressing issues head-on and learning to communicate effectively, couples can strengthen their bonds and build a more resilient union. For those looking to explore the transformative potential of couples counseling, we are here to help. Investing in your relationship’s health is a step toward a more fulfilling partnership and life together. Bergen Counseling Center is committed to helping all couples regardless of their sexuality. If you think couples counseling is the right choice for your relationship, please call or email us to set up an appointment or free 15 minute phone consultation to learn more about the couples counseling process.

Please feel free to click on the About pages to learn more specifically how we can help you.