Marriage counseling is really different from individual counseling. In individual counseling the person is seen by themselves usually and the focus is on the issues inside themselves, that is their thinking, their feelings, and their own issues. In marital counseling, the focus is on the system or “the dance” that they do. We see the “marriage” as “the client,” rather than two individuals. The sum is greater than each of the parts
Couples come to therapy usually with some kind of communication block. Hurt, frustration, distrust and continuous arguments can cause a couple to seek counseling. The therapist helps them identify the type of dance that they do. They do the dance unconsciously. One may over-function, while the other under-functions. Or is it that the under-functioning one causes the other to over-function. Systems theory answers with, “yes.” They both influence each other rather than “cause” the problem. The dance itself is the problem. They might be headed for separation and divorce, and see the other as “the problem.” Little do they realize that they are taking their part of the dance with them. Without help, they are very likely to get into the same kind of dance, just with a different dancing partner.
Once they identify their part in the dance, the therapist helps them make conscious changes in the pattern. If one gets more angry than the other, then they might try to switch their roles a little. One may feel 150% of the anger while the other only feels 50%. They could work together to channel their anger into making constructive changes rather than take it out on each other. Then the therapist helps them stabilize the new pattern. This is why marital therapy usually takes a 3-4 month commitment to see real change. Of course, people don’t commit until they have established a rapport with the therapist and have decided for themselves that this is the course of treatment for them.
Erik Bohlin, M.A., LMHC 425-334-8916
New Hope Counseling
430 91st AVE NE, Suite 8
Lake Stevens, WA 98258 Fax: 425-368-3738
Fees and Insurance
Lake Stevens, WA 98258