Relationships that start on the promise of a long road of happiness and togetherness can go through turmoil that can leave them hanging by a thread. In such situations, talk therapy with an experienced counsellor can breathe fresh life into a relationship. Even one that both partners have given up on.
Are you and your partner dealing with a rough patch or seemingly irreconcilable differences? Have you been contemplating whether or not going into couples’ therapy would be the right decision? Read on to find out what is talk therapy exactly and how these 6 couples found a way forward with this approach.
What is Talk Therapy?
Talk therapy, which also called psychotherapy, is a technique that relies on talking about feelings and thoughts to gain perspective on things that have been bothering a person. Counsellors and therapists rely on a wide range of talk therapy techniques to help the person communicate their actual thoughts on the issue they’re struggling with. These can range from behaviorism to cognitive theory as well as expression through art and drawing.
Talk therapy benefits couples struggling in their relationships. Primarily because talking to a trained counsellor is easier than talking to each other when two partners are dealing with relationship issues.
A therapist or counsellor not only listens without judgment but also relies on tested talk therapy techniques to help you find an answer to your problems. It gives you a safe environment to cry, shout, stay silent or talk and come to terms with how you’re feeling. The experience can help people look at their situations from a new perspective. This, in turn, facilitates adopting a novel or different approach for resolving issues.
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In case of couples therapy or relationship counselling, a couple typically interacts with a therapist one-on-one. With the concept of talk therapy online gaining popularity, today these sessions are also conducted over email, phone or video calls. Online talk therapy gives a cloak of anonymity to those who’re not comfortable with the idea of discussing their relationship issues openly.
Besides, since you don’t have to visit the counsellor for sessions, it’s easier to keep up with.
What is talk therapy used for?
Yes, talk therapy is the most commonly used technique in relationship counselling. However, its role is not limited to just that. So, what is talk therapy used for?
It can help people struggling with a host of different situations. Anyone who has emotional issues or is going through a bad phase in life can benefit from talk therapy. Some of the top applications of talk therapy include:
- Mental health issues such as depression, phobias, eating disorders and addictions. Therapists also depend on talk therapy for anxiety-related cases, as this approach helps the affected people make great progress. Besides, it is also used to manage serious mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, along with medication
- It also helps people cope better with traumatic life events such as death, job loss, financial losses, infertility, or abuse
- People suffering from chronic or life-threatening medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, multiple sclerosis, obesity can also better manage their mental well-being through talk therapy
- Families that are splitting up or dealing with difficult circumstances such as addiction, a child with special needs or adjustment issues upon relocating can also benefit from group talk therapy sessions.
- It is also effective in anger management
- Of course, it is the go-to choice for therapists when it comes to relationship counselling. From incompatibility to unresolved issues, infidelity, financial problems, infertility, sexless relationships – it can help couples work their way through a host of problems
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How much does talk therapy cost?
The talk therapy cost in the US varies, depending on the place you live in, the type of issues you’re dealing with as well as the experience and expertise of the therapist. The national average of talk therapy cost has been placed at $90. An hourly session can cost anywhere between $60 to $120. However, in cities like New York, a single talk therapy session can cost anywhere between $200 to $300.
In most cases, these are not covered by insurance. The high cost of therapy is often attributed to its highly personalized nature. Even so, this issue is now gaining traction. Many organization are pushing for therapy sessions to be covered by insurance, given that 1 in 5 Americans may need therapy at some point.
If you and your partner are dealing with relationship problems, you can seek online talk therapy for $15 to 35 per session from our panel of consulting counsellors.
What Are The 4 Types Of Talk Therapy?
Talk therapy techniques used to address different kinds of issues can be broadly divided into four types. Each of these is a scientifically structured approach designed to help people work through their issues. Depending on the merits of the case, a therapist may use one or a mix of different talk therapy techniques.
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The 4 types of talk therapy are:
1. Cognitive behavioral therapies (CBT)
When using cognitive behavioral therapies, a therapist relies on scientific methods to curate structured sessions. The therapist holds the reins of conversation, steering it toward problems at hand and practical solutions for addressing them.
The focus is on helping a person see how they can feel better by reacting differently to their feelings and thoughts. Challenging negative thoughts or trying new activities are some of the common approaches employed in CBT.
This is a short-term treatment that spans anywhere from six to 24 sessions. CBT is most helpful for people who want to look for a solution to a current problem with a clear end-goal in mind. For instance, a couple wanting to resolve their differences to make their relationship work.
2. Dialectic behavior therapy (DBT)
Dialectic behavior therapy resembles CBT closely. The only difference is that this approach also involves some meditation techniques. This is most helpful for people with persistent problems like eating disorders or those who exhibit self-harm tendencies like suicidal thoughts.
DBT is effective in individual, couple or group counselling.
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3. Psychodynamic therapies
The approach in this talk therapy technique is to explore how your early life experiences influence your thoughts, behavior, relationships and feelings. By gaining this perspective, people can become better equipped to deal with difficult situations.
Psychodynamic therapies are based on the ideas of Sigmund Freud but have evolved exponentially over the last century. This type of talk therapy benefits people dealing with depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, addiction, anxiety or eating disorders.
4. Humanistic therapies
This approach to talk therapy uses a whole-person approach to help a person deal with their problems. A mix of practices and theories are used to help you evolve as a person, focusing on pushing you to realize your full potential.
Humanistic therapies help you explore your relationship with different aspects of your body such as emotions, behavior, mind, spirituality. And also your relationship with those around you – family, partner, children, co-workers, friends and society at large.
This can be employed in case of couple counselling if both partners are keen on exploring the possibilities of their life together by looking at their problems from a range of varying perspectives.
6 Couples’ Experience on How Talk Therapy Helped Their Relationships
Have you been avoiding seeking help thinking therapy is a waste of time? How can a stranger help a situation when the two people committed to a relationship cannot. You may want to think again. Talk therapy benefits partners by helping them view the future of their relationship pragmatically.
These real-life stories of 6 couples who benefitted from talk therapy are proof:
1. Resolving poor communication
Snigdha Mishra shares: Rajat and Ayesha had spent 10 years together as a happily married couple and viewed themselves as best friends with different personalities. Their communication styles were different. That became the sore point in the relationship.
Rajat was someone who bottled up and did not give his opinions easily, whereas Ayesha shared her thoughts and communicated everything. She felt she did the heavy lifting in the relationship. From figuring out the life goals to making important and non-important decisions. She felt helpless and anxious with all the work she did in the relationship.
Rajat often felt judged and not understood and ‘made to feel dumb’ by Ayesha. Her sharpness and world view mostly made him question his intellect and rational thinking.
What helped them was envisioning themselves with their individual strengths they bring into the relationship. With the help of talk therapy, they began focusing on the strengths as contributors to the relationship. This helped in shifting focus from the shortcomings as absolute blunders to building blocks for improved skills.
Besides, they began taking on non-gender roles and removing emotional reasoning for finishing tasks. Or associating doing something with their partner’s shortcoming. It took 6 months of weekly and fortnightly sessions, along with one couple vacation in between, to work things out.
Talk therapy for couples is complex because it takes continued personal and couple effort to bring sustainable changes. Any good therapist helps the couple work towards small everyday goals, that are made visible and measurable, giving a couple hope and motivation.
2. Mismatched expectations
Joie Bose shares: Talking is the last things couple do. That’s what leads to a major disconnect. It’s always about ego and miscommunication. It’s also about not living up to expectations. A couple who had come to me was experiencing something similar.
They had had an arranged marriage and everyone wanted them to have a baby next. But the girl wasn’t ready. So their marriage was on shaky ground. The man said no matter what he does or what he gifts her, she is never satisfied. She is always cranky.
He didn’t know why she didn’t want a baby since that was the whole purpose of their marriage.
The wife, on the other hand, felt that the husband tries to buy her love! That was the reason she didn’t want to have a baby. When they spoke about it, it came to light that for the man the definition of being an able husband was one who would be able to provide her with all the luxury. Since she wasn’t appreciative of it, he thought that she was repelled by him.
This never let open the doorway to the heart. This was one of the major problems between them, amidst many other things. It’s been seven or eight months since they had come to me first.
As per my suggestion, they go out for evening walks where no gadgets are allowed. They get ample amount of time to talk to each other and connect. And yes they send me reports. I think talk therapy helped them.
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3. Sex addiction
Gopa Khan shares: Mathew and Margaret were one such couple who had come in for couple counselling. They had been married for over ten years, no kids and both had good jobs. It looked like an ideal marriage as both seemed compatible in many ways.
However, Mathew had a hidden ‘sex addiction’ that had started during his teenage years but he never really acknowledged it. Mathew had a huge stack of pornographic materials and videos etc which he would watch daily. This drastically affected the couple’s marital life.
It also wreaked havoc on Margaret’s self-esteem and confidence.
Their intimate life had come to a halt. Mathew seemed oblivious that he had an ‘issue’ and could not understand why it was such a big deal. ‘Most men watch X- rated movies’ and he was not having any ‘affairs’ was his refrain.
Most of their discussions would result in huge arguments. Mathew did not consider it an ‘addiction’ issue as he had started seeing pornographic movies as a teenager with friends. It was considered a ‘normal part of growing up’.
In sessions, the Imago technique was explained to the couple. Initially, they found it ridiculous to have to repeat each other’s words like a ‘parrot’. But slowly, they were both forced to open up, acknowledge, validate each other’s point of view without interrupting one another.
After a couple of sessions, both were able to arrive at a solution. Mathew could see how his actions were impacting his spouse and agreed to get rid of his entire collection of pornographic paraphernalia. He also joined a 12-step sex addiction group to prevent a relapse.
Margaret and Mathew were able to salvage their marriage. They reported that they had started listening to each other more and were patient with one another.
4. Acceptance to let go
Gopa Khan also shares another case where talk therapy helped the couple better manage the inevitability of a separation:
Rishi and Meena had come in for couples counselling. Meena was keen on getting a divorce and move to her hometown. The couple had an 8-year-old son and both were very attached to him. Rishi was also very close to his wife’s side of the family. Hence, it was difficult for him to come to terms with the fact that his marriage was over.
Rishi was always in-between jobs and unable to financially contribute to the running of the house, which was the key reason for conflict in their marriage. When the couple came in for counselling, they were already living apart for over 2 years. Even so, Rishi maintained a good equation with his son and mother-in-law, who lived in the same city with his wife.
He would often visit them, have meals with them and spend time with his son. When they came in for counselling, the wife did not want to continue being in a ‘limbo’. Rishi seemed content with the current arrangement. He could still have a family, was invested in his son and yet be alone as a bachelor.
The Imago counselling techniques were used in couples session where both got to process their feelings.
It took a couple of sessions for Rishi to acknowledge that he could not continue infinitely in the same fashion. He also understood that divorce did not mean he could not continue to be friends with his wife and be connected with his wife’s family. He accepted that it was fair to let his partner move ahead and build her life.
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5. Consent and marital sex
Kavita Panyam shares: A newly married woman came in for counselling as divergent views on consent in marital sex was becoming a sore point in her relationship. On the night of their wedding, the husband forced himself on her and had sex forcefully. She was upset that he didn’t ask for her consent. However, his opinion was that sex with his wife was his right and he can demand it any time of the day or night, or just get it anyhow.
She was put off by this ownership kind of attitude. I did psychotherapy sessions with her. Since she wanted to stay in the marriage, I told her to talk to the husband, wait it out, create boundaries and not let him have his way with her.
She was scared that it may lead to violence, as the man had a voracious appetite for sex and couldn’t take no for an answer. It took a couple of sessions before she could muster the courage to talk to him. She’d convey the things discussed in therapy to him. Sometimes he’d respond with an open mind, sometimes he’d get angry.
After about two years, talk therapy benefits could be seen clearly for this couple.
In this case, it was important for both partners to understand where the other was coming from. Perhaps, his outlook was influenced by his background, his education, his upbringing or early childhood influences. Maybe these influences made him see women like objects.
Gradually, his tendency to force himself on her reduced. During this time, they also had two children. It took almost three years before this instinct settled down completely and he became more amicable. They’re happy together today, and share a fulfilling marriage based on mutual respect and consent.
6. Verbal abuse
Kavita Panyam also shares another case where continued verbal abuse from her husband pushed the wife into a depressive state and how talk therapy helped her gain control of her life:
The client’s husband didn’t get physically intimate and told her it was because she was ugly and he found her repulsive. He displayed shades of being a narcissist and missed no opportunity to put her down. As a result, her self-confidence took a hit and she wound up in a depressive state.
Despite all this, she wanted to find a way back and not leave him. Respecting her choice, I helped her in dealing with these covert narcissist tendencies that were leading to mental abuse. The woman was a qualified IT engineer but her husband made her quit her career for raising children, and would then, taunt her for not earning.
So, making her see the importance of being financially independent was a priority. Eventually, she found an alternative source of income and set up her own business. She also craved sexual intimacy and ‘the touch of a man’ because of which she almost got into an extramarital affair.
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I told her she needs to accept that a connection – physical or emotional – is lacking in her marriage and talk to her husband about it. He kept saying it was because she was ugly and fat. Even though he was a bald man with a sizeable paunch.
This went on for a year but his tendency to abuse decreased with the help of talk therapy techniques that the wife was practising at home. Finally, he admitted that he has been keeping away because he was unable to perform sexually.
Even now, there is a lack of sexual intimacy in their marriage. He doesn’t initiate sex, but she has found other ways of satisfying herself without cheating. Whenever she gets frustrated, a talk therapy session on acceptance – since it is her choice to stay in the marriage – helps.
These real-life cases go on to show that it’s a myth that therapy is a waste of time. However, to reap talk therapy benefits, you have to go in with an open mind and not expecting a pre-determined outcome.