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Couples Therapy 

based on relational psychoanalytic approach

An intimate relationship entails, among other things, the hope that we will evolve together, overcoming past traumas, with mutual acknowledgement and acceptance.

At the very beginning of the relationship feelings of affection, devotion, intense erotic attraction, thoughts of "eternal love", idealization of our partner and disregard of any unpleasant characteristics dominate. Trying to protect the relationship at all costs, we initially deny the difficult parts of ourselves and the other's resulting to intrapsychic and interpersonal conflicts with our partner, feeling frustrated, angry and in despair. At this point, we might engage in continuous power games of doer-done to dynamics, victimizing and blaming each other feeling constantly submissive.


In couples therapy we are invited to abandon our original beliefs about how a relationship should be, demystify and accept each other acknowledging our vulnerable sides, and responsibly negotiate for the development of the relationship the way we wish for rather the way it "should" be (socially or family imposed standards).

Couples therapy is a beneficial process for any couple who wishes to:

  • deepen their understanding of each other and their interaction patterns.

  • resolve any recurring conflicts that arise in the partners' communication,

  • regain intimacy and erotic desire,

  • negotiate and find solutions together for issues such as: financial difficulties, health problems, fertility, infidelity, etc.,

  • explore the alternative ways of their relationship's development and the roles of the two partners in circumstances such as: imminent marriage, pregnancy, divorce, etc.

Any couple, regardless of age, gender or duration of the relationship, can address to a therapist as long as both partners wish to invest in the psychotherapeutic process for the improvement of their communication and relationship.

No previous experience of individual psychotherapy is a prerequisite for the partners to work therapeutically as a couple. However during couples therapy sessions the usefulness of parallel individual therapy can be pointed out.

Couples Therapy Key Points

as described in the book "A Relational Psychoanalytic Approach to Couples Psychotherapy" by Dr. Philip A. Ringstrom

  • During couples therapy sessions the therapist is important to remain attuned to each partner's subjectivity. Both partners need to feel that their thoughts, needs, and feelings are heard and understood firstly by the therapist and then by their partner. Within such a holding environment of containment, the two partners can open up emotionally reflecting on conflictual issues with the hope and prospect of change and evolution at an individual and dyadic (couple) level.

  • None of the three participants in therapy (therapist, partners) is considered as having a better perception of reality than the other two. This reassurance on behalf of the therapist encourages both partners to share their authentic undeniable experience at any given moment. The validation of each and everyone's personal experience lays the foundation for mutual recognition between partners even when their views differ.

  • Psychoanalytically oriented couples therapy can often resemble to two parallel individual psychotherapies conducted simultaneously (one for each partner). The therapeutic triad (therapist and partners) is called to explore each partner's past relationships, traumatic experiences, thoughts and feelings. Consequently,they should highlight the ways in which these experiences affect both partners and the couple's relationship in the present. The emotional self-revelation of each partner witnessed by the other can be beneficial for the couple, as feelings of shame, guilt, fear etc. emerge, trust and a deeper understanding of themselves and each other is enhanced, and the couple is motivated to joint action for the improvement of their relationship.


  • The susceptibility of the couple's conflicts entails equivalent intrapsychic conflicts of each partner. As therapy progresses and the couple recognises it's behavioral patterns and each partner's personal contribution to conflict, the couple is called to make changes. The process of change at a personal and a dyadic level is an emotionally painful experience. On one hand we desire change and evolution and on the other we resist to any changes, prefering to remain in familiar pathways. In other words, we fear that we will lose ourselves and question whether change is a wish of ourselves or forced to us by the other. At this point we may feel that therapy is not progressing, and blame ourselves and the others (partner, therapist) as an effort to manage any dysphoric feelings.

  • Gradually the two partners recognize and accept all aspects of themselves and their partner, even those that seem rigid and less beneficial for personal and couple's development. The couple recognizes that self-realization and growth is a realistic possibility through insightful thinking in the presence of their partner, and the ability of both to recognize the subjectivity of each other.

  • Since both partners retain the ability to acknowledge their subjectivity and the ways they contribute to the relationship, as well as the separateness of their partner, they are able to renegotiate any obstructions to the relationship that seemed unnegotiable. At the same time the partners get prepared to surrender themselves to their relationship. without feeling subordinate. They are able to consciously and responsibly take the decision the decision to free themselves from past habits that hindered their personal and couple's development.

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