Relationships can be hard. Even couples with great relationships go through difficult times, and we all need a helping hand sometimes. However hard you work together on your relationship, an outside view can make a world of difference and give that vital new perspective. Solution-focused therapy for married couples can improve relationships and achieve greater happiness in the future.
What is solution-focused couples therapy?
Solution-focused couples therapy is an approach that works on getting your relationship to where you would both like it to be. It looks to the future rather than extensively analyzing problems that have arisen in the past.
While past problems are acknowledged and addressed, the focus is very much on where the couple would like their relationship to be in the future and how to get there.
Solutions-focused therapy for couples makes sense when a relatively short course of therapy is needed to get back on the right track, refocus on the promise of the future, and address issues without extensive focus and reliving of the past.
Understanding solution-focused couple therapy techniques
The basis of solution-focused couples therapy is a series of questions asked by the therapist to help the couple identify and agree on where they want their relationship to be.
There are several types of questions that can be effective in helping couples through this process.
Talking about emotional concepts and relationships can be very abstract. Scaling questions asks the couple to rate different aspects of their experience, feelings, and hopes for the future on a scale, usually of 1 to 10.
Questions could ask about how hurt or upset someone is feeling, or how confident they are that their relationship can be successful in the future. This can then provoke helpful discussion about the different perspectives.
The Miracle Question
Couples are asked to consider how they would feel and behave if the major issues that they are facing were miraculously resolved overnight. How would this impact their feelings and behaviors going forward?
Couples can then see how some of these differences can start now even while the underlying problem continues to be addressed.
Having seen that there is a future worth fighting for, they may be much more inclined to make the effort to get there.
Rather than asking the couple to imagine a future life without their big problems, exception questions ask them to remember a time when the problem was not an issue.
This can be motivating and encouraging and can also help to pinpoint exactly what the change was that caused the relationship to become more difficult.
Coping questions ask the couple to reflect on how they manage and keep going while the underlying issue remains unresolved.
In looking at their resilience, the couple may realize that they and their relationship are stronger than they may have imagined. They may also see that they have already shown determination to get to this point, which can encourage the couple to continue to work towards a brighter future.
Future-oriented questions can help the couple to identify how they can make real, practical changes to move towards the future that they want. This can include building on strengths identified from the past, putting parts of their ideal future in place now, and building on good things that they are already doing but had not recognized.
The benefits of solution-focused couples therapy
Start from where you are
Solution-focused couples therapy recognizes that all relationships include positive aspects and practices and that simply recognizing these in yourself and each other can be beneficial. The therapist then helps the couple to build on these things and their shared vision of a happier future.
One step at a time
Where areas that need to change are identified, solution-focused therapy for couples encourages and directs small steps toward a better future. A small change made now may deliver major improvements in the future.
By focusing on solutions and identifying practical changes to be made, this type of therapy puts the focus on positive change rather than just reflection. It is an action and results-oriented approach.
Solution-focused couples therapy: tips for success
Finding the right therapist
To find the right therapist, you can start by approaching your existing healthcare provider or asking trusted community groups and professional bodies. Be as clear as you can about what is important to you both in your therapist, identify the key questions you would like to ask a potential therapist and do not be afraid to make a change if you feel uncomfortable or things do not work out as you had hoped.
Setting achievable goals
While your therapist will help with this point, it is essential to go into solution-based couples therapy with a realistic view. Not every problem can or will be solved in a few weeks. But what is achievable are changes that can make a huge difference over time.
Keeping an open mind and staying committed
It is important to go into therapy prepared to try new things even if they make little sense to you at first. Even if you see little change from the first few sessions, you need to stay committed for therapy to be properly effective. Antibiotic medicines work at their best when you follow the whole course, and therapy is no different.
Celebrating small victories along the way
Solution-focused therapy is based on taking a positive approach. An important part of this is recognizing and celebrating victories as and when they occur, however small. By marking these milestones, the overall task of tackling the big problem is broken down into manageable steps and you are far more likely to stay on track.
Overall, solution-focused couples therapy is a positive approach that can make a huge difference and lead couples back to the happiness that they may have thought had gone for good.