Conflict in intimate relationships can be very painful, especially if it is chronic and prolonged. While all couples argue and fight from time to time, some couples have the same fight (or fights) over and over again, about the same or similar issues. When this occurs, and takes the joy and comfort out of the relationship, couples counseling can often help.
At our institute we approach couples treatment with a model for healthy relationships. This model assumes that people enter into intimate relationships to get their needs met, and that they are responsible for both their own needs and those of their partner. Each person’s responsibility in getting their own needs met is to keep those needs within realistic bounds and to communicate them clearly. Each person’s responsibility for their partner’s needs is to make a good-faith effort to meet those needs when they are clear and realistic.
Our approach to individual treatment focuses on blocked emotions, cognitive distortions, and life problems, and we assess for these in couples treatment as well. While we deal with these as needed, our main focus in couples treatment, however, is on the interpersonal stances that each person prefers to take and the expectations that accompany them. Interpersonal stances, including nurturant, dependent, cooperative, dominant, and submissive stances, usually define the expectations that people bring to relationships, and most people during childhood develop strong preferences for some stances and aversions to others.
In couples counseling, whether on-site or via a
teletherapy video conference chat, we teach clients to
recognize their own and their partner’s preferred stances and also the ones that each person has difficulty adopting. We teach the proper role and scope of each stance in a healthy relationship, and we also teach the expectations that accompany each stance.
For example, in many relationships, one partner feels that the other partner does not do enough or is emotionally distant, and the other partner feels that the first one is too demanding. Such problems often have to do with an imbalance of the nurturant and dependent stances. One partner may have dependency needs activated too often or too strongly and unrealistically, or the other may be insufficiently nurturant, or both problems may be present. What we do is teach both partners to monitor their needs and impulses, and to try to replace the problem behaviors of demand and withdrawal with clear communication in the moment, and an honest attempt to balance their own desires with those of their partner.
Of course that is just one example, and relationships are so complex that problems within them can take many forms. Love may not conquer all, but love and wisdom together are powerful. If you and your partner love each other but constantly fight with each other, then we are here to help provide you with wisdom.
Thomas B. Hollenbach, Ph.D.
The Integrative Therapy Institute of New Jersey offers psychotherapy on-site in one of our six office locations, as well as Online Therapy video conference chat though-out New Jersey, also known as Teletherapy. The Institute has seven offices, our headquarters and satellite office in Metuchen in Middlesex County, our offices in Montclair and Upper Montclair in Essex County, our Red Bank office in Monmouth County, our Skillman/Princeton office serving Somerset and Mercer Counties, and our Sparta office in Sussex County.
Integrative Therapy Institute of New Jersey, LLC • Copyright © 2013-2019 • Administrative Office in Metuchen, New Jersey
(Psychotherapy by Video Chat)
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