When you think of therapy to help your romantic relationship, you probably imagine the classic scene with a couple sitting around with a therapist, each taking turns discussing their core problems and each telling his or her own side of the story. While that model has been the norm for decades, it may not be the most effective in helping your relationship, especially if your partner is unwilling or unmotivated to attend.
The alternative? Individual Relationship Therapy, which addresses your relationship needs and challenges independent of the influence of your partner’s perspective and helps an individual partner explore how his/her own history and experiences may be playing a role. This approach to improving relationships is core to our mission and vision at Center for Shared Insight PC, and here are three reasons it’s essential for you and your relationship.
Reduces the tendency to place blame
When we are faced with relationship conflict – whether that be disagreements about money or the trauma of infidelity – it’s easy to point the finger and blame the other party for the challenges and hardships of the partnership. Often the major friction points of a relationship are the result of months of precipitating situations. For example, while it’s easy to point the finger for a partner cheating, it’s not as easy to evaluate how your behavior might have contributed to the situation or dynamics.
Individual Relationship Therapy lets you examine your role in the conflict and discuss it more objectively and comprehensively without input from the other party. Sometimes it’s easier to be honest with yourself and admit your own inevitable shortcomings in a relationship during a therapy session that excludes your partner. When you can learn to take responsibility for your role in the dynamics that led to whatever problems developed, you are more equipped to make intentional choices and change your behavior moving forward.
Just as strong as the tendency to blame the other person for conflict, it’s also common to blame yourself. Depending on your core beliefs, attachment style and past relationship experiences, you may accept too much blame for a relationship gone south.
The antidote for this tendency is self-love – or actively finding ways to cherish and honor yourself despite your mistakes, experiences, and decisions. Therapy helps identify what factors may be leading to this tendency and how it might affect the overall success of your relationship. Your ability to give love starts with self love, and falling in love with your life independent of a romantic partner is often an important procurer to healthy intimacy. Relationships will not successfully progress if your partner fills a void or you feel dependent on your partner to meet certain needs. Cultivating self love by honoring boundaries, understanding and choosing what makes you truly happy, and improving self-dialogue are good steps to caring more deeply for yourself.
Individual Relationship Therapy holds you accountable to practicing self-love, an important component of a healthy relationship, that almost always goes overlooked as you tell your side of the story and break down conflict in traditional couples therapy. Making self-love a priority addresses relationship issues at their core as happier individuals make healthier partners.
Stops the story-telling
Human beings have the tendency to tell themselves stories to rationalize their actions and feelings. Whether these stories are born out of experiences of the past or what you think you deserve, these stories can be destructive to a relationship. Your own inner dialogue causes you to misinterpret the behavior of your partner or see what you want to see based on past experiences. These stories can cause us to jump to conclusions, project, and react rather than respond. Individual Relationship Therapy can help us uncover theses patterns and the associated stories, especially after working with a therapist for a length of time. When you work with a psychologist who helps you identify this tendency, you can actively challenge, recreate and clear these stories – and the subsequent effect they have on your present relationships.
Individual Relationship Therapy can make a significant impact on the long-term success of a partnership, whether that be preventative or in response to a certain isolated challenge. Most importantly, no matter what happens in your relationship, Individual Relationship Therapy can prepare you to be a better partner in the future by helping you identify and work through your stories, tendencies, and responses to relationship challenges. Individual therapy can provide you with the tools you need for future relationship success. If you’d like to learn more about our unique approach to relationship therapy at Center for Shared Insight PC, contact me, Dr. Hick, to schedule a free consultation.