Couples counseling is a complex triadic interaction between the partners and the counselor in which the “client” is the relationship between the partners. Individual therapy may be an adjunct to couples counseling or may be a per-requisite to couples counseling when one or both of the partners have active addictions, untreated mental health problems or their is an active infidelity occurring. Couples therapies, like individual therapies, have distinct modalities such as Emotion Focused (EFT - Johnson), Psychobiological (PACT - Tatkin), Relational Life (Real), Imago (Hendrix), Conscious Lliving (Hendricks), Existential (Perel), mediation, etc. These approaches differ on various dimensions such as whether the focus is more on connection versus responsibility. Issues addressed in couples work are varied: a) enrichment for couples who want to make a good relationship better; b) problem focused counseling dealing with problems in communication, fighting, compatibility, sexual problems, infidelity, illness, aging, external pressures on the relationship such as burnout or eldercare, parenting, divorce, etc. It is important to select a couples counselor who specializes in your particular issue and uses an approach with which you will be comfortable.
Couples work can take the form of a) a single consultation of several hours from you will gain new perspectives on your relationship and be resourced to continue on your own, or b) an ongoing transformation engagement with your counselor to support you through your changes. Some couples counseling modalities involve seeing the partners separately; others do not.