After many years of being a psychotherapist, specializing primarily in sexuality and relationships, it has become more and more clear that some of the most powerful changes I’ve observed have occurred in the context of couples therapy. Certainly many forms of therapy are helpful, but I think there are a few specific reasons why couples (or any kind of relationship) therapy seems most powerful.

First and foremost, being in a healthy relationship forces people to change. Psychologist David Schnarch called relationships a “crucible” for this very reason– they act as an intense pressure cooker on individuals within the system. Because of this, couples therapy has certain advantages over individual therapy. Individuals that want to make a relationship work must learn to empathize, collaborate, and compromise with others, something that does not come easily for many. These flaws are more readily disguised in individual therapy since I may only see the person one time a week for 45 min and these kinds of situations obviously do not as commonly arise as they do in relationships where people see each other all the time. Couples therapy imposes a demand on individuals to change in order to have a more successful relationship, or else choose to move on and terminate the relationship. Such demands for change are not as evident in individual therapy.

Along these lines, within the context of couples therapy, I can receive more than one input of information. In individual therapy, people often present their single perspective, which is often biased (why wouldn’t it be), so as a therapist, I am working with limited information. I have […]