Difficulties sometimes arise in couple relationships, between family members, with friends and in workplaces. The most common concern is managing conflict and change in relationships. Conflicts can be expressed through arguments and criticism but also can involve distance, hostility and disappointment. Problems in relationships may lead to worry and negative changes in mood, self-esteem and feelings of well-being. Relationship difficulties can be caused or made worse by anxiety and depression.
Conflicts in couple relationships can occur because of disagreements about life goals and plans, and day-to-day issues, e.g. housework, parenting or family/work pressures and past hurts. Sometimes couples are affected by more specific issues, such as a lack of intimacy, the impact of chronic illness and unexpected changes, such as losing a job or conflicts about step-parenting.
Treatment of relationship difficulties
There are two general methods for dealing with relationship difficulties: working with the individual alone or working with the parties together.
Seeing someone individually about their relationship difficulties allows close exploration and treatment of the relationship difficulty from the perspective of that individual. Treatment strategies may be based on therapeutic approaches, including Mindfulness, Interpersonal Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Sometimes this type of therapy is used to help prepare an individual for couple therapy with their partner. Equally, such therapy is very useful to manage difficulties that are occurring in the workplace or with friends.
Seeing the parties affected by the relationship difficulties together is usually termed couple therapy. In couple therapy, the relationship between the parties is the focus of therapy. Therapy assists develop communication skills, such as how to express needs, manage conflict, compromise in the face of differences, and deal with emotional upset that can occur during difficult conversations. Common types of couple therapy include Gottman Couple Therapy and Interpersonal Psychotherapy for couples.
Another type of treatment that involves seeing all those involved is family therapy, which assists when there are conflicts between family members. This type of therapy usually involves creating a safe situation in which opinions can be discussed with the aim of assisting with problem solving to improve family relationships.
The psychologists at Inner West Psychology provide the most up to date, evidence based treatment for relationship difficulties. Email us if you would like to ask a question or book an appointment with one of our relationship experts.
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