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Couple Counseling

By Claudia Carballal, MS, LPC-A, RYT.

Why is Couples Counseling Important?

Couples want their relationship to work, they want to have their needs met and resolve conflict, but they often don't know themselves deeply. Without engaging in deep discussions, no relationship can grow. It is important to talk about the role that childhood wounds and attachment have in their relationship.

Premarital counseling can be a positive preventive tool before the couple develops rigidity and problematic habits. During premarital counseling, a couple can talk about important areas, such as work, finances, children, and extended family, before they become a larger issue. Couples counseling is often focused on repairing and undoing unhealthy habits.

How to Know if a Couple is Compatible?

Attraction and liking someone are not the same as being “relationally competent.” Relational competence is the set of traits that allow people to interact with each other effectively. People with relational competence possess characteristics that facilitate the development and maintenance of mutually satisfying relationships. When two people come together as a couple, it is like merging two companies.

Attachment Focused Work

Attachment styles refer to the way in which an individual relates to other people. The concept involves one’s confidence in the availability of the attachment figure for use as a secure base from which one can freely explore the world when not in distress as well as seek support, protection, and comfort in times of distress.

There are four attachment styles:

Secure: self-assured, direct, responsive.

Anxious: referred to as preoccupied in adults.

Avoidant: referred to as dismissive in adults

Disorganized: referred to as fearful-avoidant in adults

Goals of Couples Counseling

  • Unresolved childhood wounding shows up in adult relationships.

  • Understand your inner child and bringing it into your awareness.

  • Understand your partner’s inner child.

  • Reach past familiar patterns and go deeper into compassion and respect for one another.

  • Go deeper and help cut through all the noise for people.

  • Understand why you act the way you do.

  • Understand your partner’s behavior.

  • Identify and understand interactional or relational patterns and disruptive patterns.

  • Unpack retriggered wounds.

  • Create hope and spark healthy dialogue.

  • Develop a deep, vulnerable, and empathic communication style.

  • Tap into the childlike reservoir of connectivity with your partner.

  • Understand the genesis of relational patterns and conflicts.

Interactional Pattern Work

A couple’s interactional pattern is born from the way they became organized growing up. Their coping mechanism or unconscious defense often presents as their inner child— where they are trying to get those unmet needs through their partner. To solve this internal conflict, it is crucial to understand who they were as a child and what they needed from their parents which they didn't get.

We are the way we are because of our unmet needs and wounds in our family of origin where we started developing our relational pattern. Jane pursues John and John withdraws. Maybe Jane pursues because she wants the attention that she didn't get growing up in her family of origin. Maybe John learned to withdraw and self-rely because he was unable to show his emotions during conflict growing up.

Feeling alone, attacked, ignored, not cared for, unloved—these are all childhood wounds and triggers. It’s important that couples understand their own childhood wounds and their partner's wounds as well as what triggers they cause in their partner's inner-child.


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