How does therapy help with relationship issues?
We have many types of relationships with others – parents, children, co-workers, supervisors, supervisees, friends, siblings, spouses, and the like. Developmental psychology supports strong evidence that our early childhood upbringing and the attachment styles we develop with our primary caretaker, carry on into adulthood.
In Interpersonal Therapy (IP), the therapeutic relationship is viewed as a microcosm for relationships outside of therapy. In other words, we tend to behave in therapy similarly to how we behave in our relationships in general. These patterns may play out on an unconscious level, or the client may be quite aware of their tendencies. Without judgment, the therapist will explore the roots of these patterns and challenge the client to consider how their own beliefs and actions contribute to these unsatisfactory relationships, enabling them to be reparented, or to re-parent themselves within the safety of the therapeutic relationship, where they are able to re-define themselves. Clients learn to treat themselves and others in a respectful, trustworthy and communicative manner and thus, invite similar types of relationships into their lives.
Couples counselling focuses on the couple, while the individuals within the couple are encouraged to self reflect on how their individual histories have shaped who they have become in the relationship. Individuals are encouraged to reflect on their own behavior, rather than focusing on their partner’s behavior. Goals of therapy are to instill empathy and compassion for each other as this is a vulnerable process.
Parenting education is also available. As a mother of two teen boys myself, I have been through many of the stages of raising children, from babyhood, to toddlerhood, to adolescence. Aside from my own personal experience, I helped many parents over the years with typical transitional stages with their children, and parenting oppositional defiant children and teens.