Preventative Couples Therapy - When, why and how?How couples can benefit from a preventive approach on couples counselling
- 12 February 2024
In the realm of relationships, the idea of addressing issues before they escalate into crises is gaining significant traction. Preventative couples therapy, also known as pre-crisis counseling or relationship maintenance, is a proactive approach to nurturing relationships.
Instead of waiting for conflicts to emerge and intensify, couples engage in therapy or exercises from therapy to strengthen their bond and develop healthy communication patterns.
As psychologists and couples therapists, we most often encounter couples seeking help only when problems have become significant. The risk then is that one partner in the relationship is on the verge of giving up. However, we observe a positive trend among an increasing number of couples who are seeking to take a proactive approach in maintaining their relationship.
Maybe it is becoming less taboo to talk about couples therapy as a preventive measure. Because what we know is: for relationships to last over time, it requires a willingness and openness to actively work on understanding and accepting each other.
Why choose preventative couples therapy?
Preventative couples therapy can be likened to an insurance for the relationship. Just like an insurance, actively working to strengthen the couple's relationship provides protection against strains you may go through as a couple. By prioritizing the relationship early on, you decrease the risk of relationship problems arising.
Living together is sometimes hard, it requires understanding and adaptation, and no relationships are solely rosy. Living together also means experiencing each other's less flattering sides. Additionally, many couples go through strains together; our partner is with us when life happens.
Strains can range from financial problems, loved ones who are unwell, to major life changes leading to crises. With an understanding of each other and a willingness to actively work to make your relationship last, there is a greater chance of overcoming the relationship's setbacks and finding love and intimacy again.
We know how important well-functioning relationships are for us humans. Good relationships are one of the most important factors for us to feel happiness and satisfaction in life, and relationship problems are associated with both mental and physical problems. In periods when the relationship with our partner feels challenging, our own well-being is often strongly negatively affected.
Understanding preventative couples therapy
Preventative couples therapy, or relationship maintenance, is rooted in the belief that investing time and effort in a relationship before problems arise can yield long-term benefits. Rather than seeking therapy only when facing significant challenges, couples proactively engage in sessions to enhance their connection, build resilience, and address potential areas of conflict.
The focus of preventative couples therapy isn't solely on resolving existing issues but also on equipping partners with the skills and tools to navigate future challenges effectively.
Benefits of preventative couples therapy
When the individuals in a couple share their personal backgrounds, upbringing, and past experiences it fosters empathy and understandance. By understanding each other's histories, including significant life events and relationship patterns, partners gain insight into how past experiences may influence present behaviors and dynamics and influence how they react in current situations within the relationship.
Preventative couples therapy provides a safe space for partners to express their thoughts, feelings, and concerns openly. Through guided communication exercises, couples learn active listening techniques, conflict resolution strategies, and ways to communicate their needs effectively. It is always easier to actually practice these techniques when the relationship is in a stable and positive state, rather than when having frequent conflicts or arguments.
Improved conflict resolution
Conflicts are inevitable in any relationship, but how couples handle them can make a significant difference. In preventative couples therapy, partners learn constructive ways to manage disagreements and resolve conflicts without damaging the relationship. By addressing minor conflicts early on, couples prevent them from escalating into larger issues.
Increased intimacy and connection
Emotional intimacy is vital for the longevity of a relationship. Preventative therapy encourages couples to deepen their emotional connection and strengthen their bond. Through intimacy-building exercises and heartfelt conversations, partners rediscover the reasons they fell in love and cultivate a deeper appreciation for each other.
Identifying and addressing potential issues
Even the strongest relationships can encounter challenges. Preventative therapy allows couples to identify potential areas of tension or dissatisfaction before they become major problems. By addressing underlying issues early and predicting forthcoming issues, couples can prevent them from festering and causing irreparable damage to the relationship.
Building resilience together as a couple
Life's stresses and unexpected events can put a strain on a relationship. Preventative couples therapy equips partners with the resilience to navigate difficult times together as a team. Couples learn coping mechanisms, stress management techniques, and ways to support each other during times of adversity, strengthening their bond in the process.
Taking the first step
Embarking on the journey of preventative couples therapy requires a willingness to prioritize the relationship and invest in its long-term health. You can take part of preventative couples therapy live with a therapist, or you can do it by yourself with the guidance of for example a book or an app. A relationship app offer a convenient and accessible alternative for couples seeking preventative therapy.
We have developed Ally, an easy-to-use app to help you and your partner improve communication, enhance intimacy, and resolve issues. Use Ally at your own pace, from the comfort of home. The content of the app has been developed by us, Helga Johnsson Wennerdal and Clara Zelleroth, licensed psychologists.