There can be pretty big misconceptions about couples therapy being the beginning of the end of a relationship. Matt Cahill, a registered psychotherapist who works with both couples and individuals, sees couples therapy as a proactive measure that can help couples communicate more effectively and protect their relationship from the stresses of inevitable changes and differences.
This shift in how we talk about and understand what’s possible within couples therapy can allow people to take preventative steps to evolve and redefine their relationship so it can continue to meet their needs.
Couples who proactively seek out therapy before they have a big change in their lives, like deciding to co-habitate (live together), marriage or a new baby, are better equipped to deal with the change. Approaching couples therapy as a preventative therapy frames the work a couple can do with the therapist as positive and affirming.
Matt talks about rethinking the idea of relationship failures, the role of a relationship within the context of the larger community, and also gives us some helpful advice for couples.
Matt discusses how relationships can be judged through the lens of ‘failure’ or ‘success’, and how this way of thinking about relationships can be problematic in our culture. Thinking about relationships in this binary or ‘either or’ kind of way doesn’t truly allow for a flexible framework that could account for the growth, learning, and/or progress that’s possible in relationship.
Some couples do transition out of their relationships, and Matt talks about some of the common themes that accompany the end of partnership. Being in a couplehood is part of being in a larger community, and a change in relationship status can represent a change in a person’s role in a given community. This can be a particularly difficult transition for many.
In my own work with individual clients, I sometimes utilize role play to support a client to experiment with putting words to and to try out what it can feel like to talk about what they’re going through.
Matt also talks about the less existential nature of the work with his couples clients, since most of his clients who works with him in couples therapy, comes to see him to work on specific issues. In this way, couples work often has a more distinct beginning and end, and generally is more short-term than individual therapy work.
Based on Matt’s work with couples, I ask Matt to share his thoughts and advice which could be helpful for all couples, no matter where they are in their relationship. He emphasizes that communication is key and to keep touching base with each other regularly.
Even if everything may seem good, it can be essential to keep the lines of communication open. A little prevention can keep a relationship solid, close and connected.
- Matt explores some alternative routes to couples therapy, if cost is a factor.
- Why there’s an immediacy to couples therapy that’s different from individual therapy.
- The role of a relationship within the community, and how that can affect how individuals and couples experience a change in relationship status.
- Matt’s resources and advice for couples from his professional experience.
● Matt Cahill’s Private Practice Website: DowntownTherapy.ca
● Matt Cahill’s Authorship Website: Matt Cahill.ca
● Matt’s Suggested Books: Daring Greatly | The Biology of Desire
● Life Stuff 101: LifeStuff101.com | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook
● Mio Yokoi: Registered Psychotherapist | Gifts of Sensitivity