Couples Therapy

Couples therapy is a branch of psychotherapy for people seeking to enhance their marital satisfaction or correct marital dysfunction. In couples therapy, it is the relationship that is seen as being the patient as opposed to one or both of the persons involved in that relationship. This allows the focus to remain on the relationship and not the perceived shortcomings and negative attributes of any one person. The emphasis is on the fact that two healthy people are able to come together and, unfortunately, form a dysfunctional marriage. Couples therapy, in one form or another, has probably existed as long as the institution of marriage has, with older and extended family members offering their experiences as advice for newly wed couples. More recently, professional marital counselling came about in the 1920s and 1930s and the Marriage Consultation Center was established in 1929 in New York City.

Couples therapy is indicated when there is the presence of overt marital conflict, which results in severe discomfort for both spouses. Short term counselling involves 1 to 3 sessions whereas longer-term therapy may take anywhere from between 12 and 24 sessions.


Sholevar, G. P., and Schwoeri, L. (2003) Textbook of family and couples therapy: clinical applications. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Pub.