Kirsten Heynisch

Principal Clinical Psychologist & Psychotherapist

Chiltern Psychology

& Psychotherapy Practice

If you are part of a couple in distress, you may feel that there is no way out of your troubled relationship. Couples therapy may be a way out, it certainly has potential to produce positive and effective change if both partners are willing to disengage from blaming each other and instead look and explore at what happens as an interactive process between both partners.

Couples Therapy is a process in which we will focus on altering the way the relationship is understood by both partners - as a result the couple can start to see each other, and their interactions, in more adaptive ways.

As part of our work, we will also shed some light on and focus on the way that both partners communicate and behave with each other with the aim to support the couple to deepen and widen communication and improve their interactions. For example, couples who avoid expressing their feelings put themselves at greater risk of becoming emotionally distant and hence grow apart. The avoidance of the expression of heartfelt feelings and underlying longings and fears does not allow for a sense of connectedness and intimacy to occur.

As part of the therapeutic work, both partners will be encouraged to express their thoughts and feelings to each other openly, including the thoughts and feelings that they may fear expressing to the other person. It is not uncommon that some partners who failed to develop "secure" emotional attachments in childhood have unmet needs that they carry over into their adult relationships. They fear showing their partners how much they need them because they are afraid that their partners might reject them. Couples therapy aims to facilitate the couple to express their true feelings in a way that will eventually draw them closer together.

Being able to communicate is crucial in achieving and sustaining intimacy. Thus, our work will focus on communicating more effectively. Couples may sometimes require support in learning how to speak to each other in more supportive and understanding ways. If necessary, I sometimes provide the couple with didactic information about types of communication that are effective and types of communication which causes more conflict.

In my work with couples, we will also look at and think about the strengths in the relationship and build resilience particularly as therapy nears a close. Because so much of couples therapy involves focusing on problem areas, it's easy to lose sight of the other areas in which the couple works well together. Promoting strength within the couple relationships can help the couple derive more enjoyment out of their relationship.

It is worth bearing in mind that each relationship has its unique challenges and strengths which we will reflect on in the course of couples therapy.