Cognitive therapy for marriage problems and related therapies like Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, focus on how each partner’s thoughts, beliefs, attitudes and expectations impact their respective moods and behaviors towards each other.
In cognitive therapy for marriage problems, clients are seen as a couple unless one or the other partner’s beliefs, feelings and/or behaviors are so extreme as to make the couples working together unproductive. In this case, individual therapy is the initial treatment and marriage therapy can continue when the individual has better control over his or her behaviors.
While partners are usually seen together in cognitive therapy for marriage problems, the focus is often on a particular partner’s unhealthy beliefs, frequently irrespective as how they developed them. For example, one partner may be overly suspicious and/or controlling over the other partner fearing that they are or my be “cheated” upon. The fearful partner may have evidence of being cheated upon in other relationships and so over generalizes and concludes that because it happened in the past it will happen in the future. In the present relationship, if there is no evidence of unfaithfulness and ample evidence of faithfulness than the fearful partner is needlessly worrying and causing unnecessary stress and resentment from their partner who has done nothing wrong.
Although cognitive therapy for marriage problems may focus heavily on identifying negative thoughts and beliefs, behavioral methods are also used when necessary to improve communication skills, encourage positive interaction and/or help partner’s lower their anger or anxiety levels.
Cognitive therapy for marriage problems tends to be active and practical. Couples are often given assignments to practice at home which are then reviewed at the following office session.
For additional helps, tips and strategies, you may want to check-out my guidebook, “Marital Strategies for Military Families”, available on the products page of www.cognitivetherapy.cc. Many of the methods and exercises are useful for all couple having marriage problems.