Will My Therapist Tell My Partner What to Do?
Most therapists would likely agree that we will NOT tell you or your partner directly what to do as we believe that YOU are the expert on YOUR life. We do not wish to control your actions, instead, our goal is to help you understand how these actions impact one another so that you are better able to connect with your partner. Therapists attempt to help couples move from distress and disconnection, towards security and connection by pointing out destructive patterns in the relationship. We guide the couple to uncover the emotions, cognitions, and unmet needs that underlie these actions.
Therapists will often ask each partner in a couple how their partner’s emotional responses and actions impact them as a way to gain a better understanding of the couples relational distress and to accentuate behaviors that seem to block the couple in connecting. Rather than telling you and your partner what to do or what not to do, we highlight how your behaviors are impacting each other and the negative consequences of these behaviors on your relationship. For example, a therapist may point out that the more time you spend on social media sites, the more neglected your partner may feel, which may lead to more conflict and disconnection in your relationship.
There are several reasons why your therapist will not directly tell you what you should or should not do. One reason is that this sort of advisement indicates that the therapist is siding with one partner, rather than the couple. As couples therapists, we see the relationship as the client, and thus we side with the couple, rather than one partner or the other. Secondly, we tend to view behavioral changes as superficial changes, which will not accurately address the root of your relational issues. As stated earlier, we believe that our emotions, cognitions, and attachment needs underlie many of our actions. Thus, our goal is to help you and your partner develop awareness of how you impact each other in order to journey away from disconnection and distress, and to get you back on track with vulnerability and emotional connection.