Couples Therapy
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Couples Therapy for One

"What if my relationship needs help but my partner won't or can't attend therapy?"

Most couples wait far too long to seek professional help when the relationship hits a rough patch and a common scenario is one partner wants to go and the other does not. As it turns out, couples therapy can still be very effective with just one partner.

A loving relationship between two people is like they are engaged in a sort of dance, so when one partner changes their steps, the other has to change as well. When therapy helps one partner learn more effective ways to be within the relationship, this inherently changes the pattern of interactions between them. One example might be someone struggling that their partner is acting defensively, yet through therapy learning about how they themselves may be inadvertently communicating in ways that are criticizing (we only defend because we perceive criticism). Quickly learning the ways to avoid criticizing your partner means the other has nothing to act defensive against.

Working with only one partner can also allow the therapist to both join with but also confront that person in ways that might not be possible if the other partner were present. For example, we can let the client know how well we understand what he or she is feeling about the relationship or about the other partner. This allows us to connect with the person without alienating the partner. Additionally, because we are perceived as an ally, which we of course are, the therapist is more at liberty to be bolder and more challenging than might be the case if the other partner were present. The privacy and freedom afforded by doing individual sessions expands the therapist's repertoire of ways in which we can help create the changes desired in the relationship.

What we also often find is that when the relationship improves through just one person doing therapy, the partner is often much more willing to begin attending therapy along with them, which allows us to then help the couple that much more.

(206) 910-1218      1800 Westlake Ave N, Suite 302  Seattle, WA 98109