Family & Relationships Marriage & Divorce

An Investigative Approach to Cognitive Behavioral Couples Therapy

In cognitive behavioral couples therapy, the main goal is to repair or strengthen the relationship of the two parties. This starts with the roots of the problem. The therapist must first understand the infancy of the relationship, as well as the current problems in both clients. Couples therapy works best when it follows a general format that promotes self-healing through the identification and solving of major problems in the relationship.

The couple must first create a baseline and back-story with the therapist. The therapist must understand a brief history of the couple, but not a long in depth history as in psychoanalysis. The therapist must then begin to identify the problems. This is done by asking the clients what would they like to change about themselves, their partner and the relationship. This will serve to let all the emotions out in the air and for both parties to see how the other truly feels. Honesty is crucial in this stage. If a member holds back than they will not truly be able to overcome their problems. Next, the couple along with the therapist must set realistic goals on how to improve the relationship. "In the problem definition and goal setting stage of therapy, the client is asked to explain what problem brings them to therapy and what they would like to accomplish through therapy" (Rodriguez, Kelli). The clients must understand what they need to change in order to progress in the process.       

The clients must next change their perception on any irrational beliefs about their partner. This can include feelings of mistrust or contempt. The couple must sort out these feelings in order to be able to build a bond again. The therapist is there to get the couple to communicate and try out alternatives to their current behavior. The couple must learn to regulate their own emotions as well as accept their partner's emotions. "The emotional tone of a relationship builds over months, years, and even decades. Over time, a momentum develops which may be positive, negative or neutral in tone. This momentum arises from the automatic and habitual cognitive and behavioral responses which which underlie emotion."(Hubbard, Bruce).  The couple must realize that they are going to fight again and that they are both human. The couple must rebuild a friendship that will last for their relationship to come.          

The key to success in a relationship is acceptance. All the therapy is really doing is getting the couples to accept each other and get them on the road to attaining their goals. The acceptance of one another can override any previous feelings of contempt and criticism. The couple must work to overcome their thoughts of contempt and work together towards a mutual friendship. The key is working together if the couple is working to accomplish a common goal tan it is much easier to accept one another and accomplish their relationship goals. "An essential vehicle for establishing friendship in a marriage is having shared goals the partners work toward in tandem."(Hubbard, Bruce). Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for couples relies on mending the core friendship by changing the thoughts and behaviors of the couple.

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Hubbard, Bruce. "CBT for Couples Marital Therapy." Cognitive Health Group. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2014.

Rodriguez, Kelli. "Applying an Integrated Approach to a Case Example: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Person Centered Therapy." N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2014.

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