Find Out What Really Happens in Couples Therapy

Until now, the only way to find out what really happens in a couples therapy session is to go to couples therapy with your partner. That is about to change.

Now, a new audio series Where Should We Begin, with renowned couples therapist Esther Perel, takes listeners into actual couples therapy sessions with 10 different couples (heterosexual, homosexual, and transsexual persons are represented in the series). The sessions were taped live and edited to remove identifying information, and they are as authentic as couples therapy gets. Listeners are not only given a rare peek into the intimate lives of other couples and the broad range of issues with which couples contend, they get to hear actual couples therapy sessions.

The first episode of the series can now be streamed here:

Voyeuristic thrills aside, gaining a clearer idea of what really happens in couples therapy sessions will be incredibly valuable for listeners for a number of reasons:

1. Listeners will soon come to realize that many of the issues the couples discuss in their sessions are ones they themselves deal with or have dealt with in the past, either individually or in their relationships. Hearing the fascinating, poetic, and at times humorous way Perel guides these couples and leads them to new realizations and understandings is likely to have a powerful and even therapeutic impact on listeners who are grappling with similar issues. Indeed, Perel hopes the series will be therapeutic and beneficial to listeners and for their relationships.

2. Couples always have their own ‘story’, their way of seeing their situation and the problems and issues that are troubling them. At the core of Perel’s therapeutic approach is that this ‘story’ can be and needs to be modified. Specifically, couples need to change their perceptions and understandings to ones that allow them room to think differently, to shift their perspective, and more importantly, to actually be different with their partner so they can become unstuck.

Listening to Perel challenge these couples to change their current perceptions of their situation and modify the narrative they have constructed around it is likely to encourage listeners to challenge their own ‘stories’ or at least to alert them to the fact that their stories can be modified, that their ‘truth’ is never absolute.

3. Couples who listen to the series together will have a significant array of launching points for discussions into their own relationship, especially when it comes to topics with which they might have struggled to communicate openly and honestly in the past. Perel hopes the series will allow relationship partners to engage in a more open and productive dialogue and to take cues from the couples in the series about the benefits of doing so.

Having listened to sections from across the series, I have no doubt Where Shall We Begin will have a big impact on listeners and spur both individuals and couples to a more open discussion about difficult topics in their lives. 

Check out my book, Emotional First Aid: Healing Rejection, Guilt, Failure and Other Everyday Hurts (Plume, 2014).

Watch my viral TED Talk about boosting your emotional health.

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Copyright 2017 Guy Winch


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