When a couple comes to counseling, I work with them to determine their goals. Sometimes couples are aware of what is troubling them but often they find that they get in the same arguments repeatedly and are unaware of the root problem. Couples come in for a variety of issues including, but not limited to: repetitive arguments, desire for improved closeness, dealing with children and extended family, and affairs. I use techniques that involve improving communication skills, bringing people’s attention to unconscious patterns, and exploring emotional disconnections. Sometimes couples just need to make mild adjustments to their interactions. At times, one person or both have a mental health issue that is wreaking havoc on the relationship and helping to identify and stabilize this does wonders for the couple.
I also find that in general we are not taught how to be an effective significant other. People generally have to go out of their way to develop good relationship and communication skills. Most people suffer a great deal before doing this. Couples counseling can be a huge benefit in helping to learn effective ways to navigate towards a healthy relationship.