In today’s world there is a crisis in relationships, and specially in partner/marriage relationships. Statistics show that on average 40% marriages end up in divorce. Seven areas have been identified that influences the quality of relationships:
• Empathy (understanding)
• Intimacy (closeness)
• Expressed affection
When couples come for CBT they are given a series of diagnostic tests which measure the above variables to get a clear blueprint for therapeutic treatment. The therapist first looks at what brought clients together and the first stage or honeymoon period of the relationship.
Clients become aware that there were a series of expectations which each person brought to the relationship (often unexpressed), and it is only when there is a relationship breakdown that this script or internal contract becomes apparent
In the second stage of the assessment clients identify the presenting problems in the relationship, and five or six things they would like to change in themselves, their partner and/or the relationship. This problem list forms the basis of the aims and objectives for treatment.
The third part of the programme is to design a new marital contract in all areas of marital life i.e:
• household chores
• shared-child rearing
• physical intimacy
• time together
• time apart
which better reflects each partners expectations in the marriage. Each of these is negotiated between partners. Then this is drawn up as a document which both clients can refer to.
CBT couples counselling lasts 75 minutes per weekly session and have both behavioural (doing) and cognitive (thinking) components. There is a series of techniques used which clients practice at home to augment what is learned in each session.
Emphasis on challenging misconceptions, bias and prejudice in thinking using standard CBT for negative automatic thoughts greatly improves communication in the couple and improves relationship skills.