When working with marriage or relationship counseling clients it is vitally important for us to understand each individual’s perspective in order to understand how your relationship functions. In marriage or couple’s therapy, it is also imperative that each person’s perspective is addressed since we all see the world in our unique ways. In doing so it allows us to acknowledge and accept that our partner has a different view of reality which then facilitates building mutual trust, respect and understanding. This is the foundation of a healthy relationship that can be achieved through couple’s therapy.
As with all my therapy, I have an eclectic approach and will tailor my skills to the specific needs of the couple. Below is a brief description of one of my marriage and relationship philosophies, Relational Empowerment Therapy, in which I hold a certification.
What is RET?
Relational empowerment therapy is a model of couple counseling based on the research and experience of Terrence Real. The model is a mechanism for couples to increase the intimacy and respectful communication in their relationship. I have been personally trained by Terry Real.
What is intimacy?
Intimacy is defined as a close and affectionate relationship. An intimate relationship captures the innermost, personal and essential nature of our self. Intimacy is the interplay of emotional, physical, sexual, intellectual and spiritual connectedness we feel with another person. According to research on infant and adult attachment, all humans are born with an instinctual craving for intimacy. Intimacy allows us to feel and express compassion, connection, authenticity and vulnerability. According to Real (2002), unfortunately through an acculturation process, society teaches us to discount the crucial role intimacy plays in the health of individuals. We live in a society that rewards independence, self-sufficiency and individual achievement. This factor along with the multiple life stressors we face in today’s world make relationships challenging.
Why is intimacy so important for successful relationships?
Marriage Therapy Intimacy is the glue that holds two people together. Intimacy fulfills our basic needs of safety, trust and human contact. Research has shown that couples in a good relationship tend to be happier and healthier. Marital stress can affect the body’s immune system, cardiovascular health and even the effects of aging. Lack of intimacy can lead to feelings of loss, rejection, deprivation, anger, abandonment and depression. We can be caught in a loop of hurt, despair and hopelessness. Real (2002) asserts that in the twentieth century society was transformed by the accelerated and dramatic changes in industry, information processing, and gender role expectations and responsibilities. Significantly, in the latter part of the twentieth century, women began to enter the work force in a large number. This event has shifted the traditional role expectations that prior generations have relied on for structure and order. In the twenty-first century, men and women may attempt to rely on their parents’ model of marriage but may find it ineffective and unsatisfying.
So how do we ‘fix’ our relationship?
All relationships go through cycles of harmony, disharmony and repair. Many people believe the myth of living ‘happily ever after’. When this does not happen, disillusionment, disappointment, confusion, powerlessness and bitterness can be experienced by one or both partners. A vicious cycle is perpetuated, ending in an escalating spiral of revenge, control and resignation.
According to the Relationship Empowerment Model there are skills that can be learned to strengthen and sustain relationships. RET skills can be used to help navigate the disharmony that relationships inevitably experience. These skills help the relationship move to repair and a healthier level of harmony. Communication can be greatly improved in an atmosphere of intimacy, respect, genuineness and love. It is important to understand that the skills employed in the Relationship Empowerment model can break this destructive cycle. These skills can create relational health, vitality and hope.