Everything You Need to Know About Couples Therapy

Tudo o Que Precisa de Saber Sobre a Terapia de Casal

Catarina Lucas is a psychologist, author of several books for professionals in the field of psychology, dedicated to research and intervention in the areas of couples therapy, sexology, parental counseling, anxiety and panic, depression, eating disorders, childhood and adolescent psychology , between others. Frederica interviewed her and wanted to know more about couples therapy. Read the interview below and find out whether or not this might be the right time to seek help and boost your relationship.

What does couples therapy consist of?

Couple therapy is a psychotherapeutic approach, carried out by psychologists or psychiatrists trained in the area, which aims to intervene with the couple and their difficulties. Intervening directly in the relationship allows solutions that are often not achieved when intervening individually. Couples therapy facilitates the process of change necessary for the adjustment of two people with different ideas, values ​​and experiences. Promotes the reduction of conflict and the improvement of communication styles. It is important to emphasize that couples therapy is not aimed at maintaining relationships, but rather at helping the couple find their way, whether together or separately. The solution is not always to maintain the relationship and, in these cases, couples therapy becomes divorce therapy, helping the process to occur with the least possible harm to the parties.

What types of couples seek this therapy?

There is no specific profile of couples who seek couples therapy. However, there is a greater prevalence of couples who have been in a relationship for some time and where, as is normal, difficulties begin to make themselves felt, occupying a place where previously there was only the passion and falling in love of the early days. Within this, we can have couples aged 30 or 50. This consultation is also beginning to be sought after by homosexual couples. As a rule, when couples arrive at the consultation they are already in great conflict and with serious difficulties in managing it, with therapy often seen as a “last resort”, which is not in itself a good principle, as the motivational level for the process of change and adjustment is already diminished.

Has demand increased? Are the types of complaints the same as always or, as the years go by, and with the entry of more technology into our lives, are there more and more different problems between couples?

Yes, the demand for couples therapy consultation has increased significantly in recent years, which may be due to several factors, including people's greater familiarity with psychotherapy, but also the difficulties that romantic relationships experience in current times. There are complaints that persist, such as infidelities, difficulties in communicating to reach understandings in everyday life, sexuality, children and managing the extended family. However, it is true that technologies accentuate some of these situations, such as distrust, especially due to the ease with which contacts are established with other people. There are many discussions around the use of technology and social networks, which leads to breaches of trust and invasion of other people's privacy. It is common to have couples in consultation motivated by infidelities discovered on social networks and applications.

Only couples with problems seek couples therapy?

Mostly yes. When a couple seeks couples therapy it is because they have already identified some difficulty that they are unable to manage alone. More than just a couple with problems, those who come to us are most often couples in crisis, as there is a tendency to resort to this type of consultation at a very advanced stage of the problem, almost in an extreme situation. Couples therapy often begins, but at a certain point we are already undergoing divorce therapy. However, couples would benefit from carrying out this intervention with the aim of improving some aspects and developing as a couple and not just as an emergency solution.

What results can the couple have and after how many sessions can they see some changes?

There is no exact prediction of the number of sessions, as the process depends much more on the couple than on the therapist. When there is no motivation and commitment to the process, all sessions will probably be fruitless. Furthermore, each couple is unique and each problem is different. There are couples who overcome infidelity, for example, in a short time and others who never do so. Depending on the couple and their difficulties, it is possible to improve the way they communicate and listen to each other, their sexuality, family management and their own relationship dynamics. However, there are no magic solutions and this is joint work.

Who is most reticent about couples therapy? The man or the woman?

If we talk about heterosexual relationships, as a rule, it is still the man who is most resistant, largely due to cultural issues such as pre-conceived ideas of not talking about problems with strangers, not showing fragility and, sometimes, even not showing emotions. . Fortunately, this trend is starting to reverse and many men now understand the advantages of this intervention.

Without wanting to go into details, are there any good and/or less good examples of couples who have undergone therapy? What were the results?

A negative example was a couple who arrived after infidelity and where the climate of hostility, tension, criticism, humiliation and verbal aggressiveness was so high that it was impossible to continue the process. Under these conditions it is impossible to help a couple, as the basic principle of respect between the parties is not even safeguarded. On the other hand, in the case of a couple who arrived due to differences in lifestyle, different assumptions and different visions of life goals, it was possible to reach consensus and learn to manage the differences, without them jeopardizing the relationship. . Some time after finishing the process, feedback came to me that things were going well and that a middle ground had been found for most of the things, having avoided disruption.

Do you think that couples who go to therapy feel some shame about doing it and, therefore, prefer that no one knows that they use this type of help? Or do you think that things are changing and that it is increasingly an open topic?

In general, and not just with couples therapy, but with psychology more broadly, people talk much more openly than they did 10 years ago. It is no longer a taboo subject, although there are still some reservations, as it continues to be a consultation that focuses on very intimate aspects of the person. Particularly, in couples therapy there are some more reservations, because a couple's private life continues to be one of the areas where people least like to be vulnerable.

What is, for you, the most challenging part of your profession?

The complexity of human beings and particularly of couples. The more I “immerse myself” in couples therapy, in researching the couple, the more complex it seems to me and the more passionate it becomes. As we study more and gain experience, the more challenging it becomes, as the truth is that understanding human beings requires understanding a multiplicity of factors that are normally not fully within our reach. As a psychologist, I particularly like working on change, I like finishing therapeutic processes and seeing people gain their “wings” and stop needing me. It's a mix of emotions when seeing the person leave, but it's also the gratification that I accomplished my mission. Difficult therapeutic processes also particularly motivate me. Challenge and difficulty are a source of motivation for many of us, regardless of the area in which we work.


If your marriage is going through a difficult phase and there is no other solution than for both of you to follow different paths, just try not to lose faith. Better days will come. If, on the other hand, you have recently started the divorce process, we have the ideal help for you: a book with everything you need to know about this most delicate phase of your life. Purchase this practical guide through this link .

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