Broadly speaking, marriage therapy helps couples improve their relationships by addressing the following four elements:
- Recognizing the security based issues that underlie most couple problems
- Understanding the role of family of origin issues in your current conflict
- Healing the wounds of past disagreements
- Finding more productive and meaningful ways of communicating
Research has shown that all couples fight and that the difference between successful and unsuccessful coupling is related to how well couples repair disagreements. Consequently, one of the ultimate goals of marriage therapy is to provide couples with the necessary tools to process their own fights in a respectful and productive manner.
In the initial consultation phase, Dr. Alexander prefers to generally meet conjointly (i.e. with both partners present) for one session and then have separate appointments with each partner separately before scheduling a second conjoint session.
The second conjoint session usually consists of Dr. Alexander offering his assessment and treatment recommendations and developing a therapeutic contract with the couple. Future sessions are usually done conjointly but may also include individual work.
Dr. Alexander has found the following books to be especially useful:
- The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman
- Hold me Tight by Sue Johnson
- The Dance of Intimacy by Harriet Lerner