Many therapists employ a communication model for Relationship Counseling that assumes that most couples’ problems derive from dysfunctional communication. The assumption seems to be that teaching better communication should resolve their difficulties. Unfortunately, most well-controlled studies show that only about one-third of the couples going through marital therapy are reporting significant post-treatment benefits. Those are not impressive statistics and they do not give much support for a simplistic communication therapy model. A couple’s communication usually breaks down because of more complex emotional dynamics. Those dynamics can involve historical shame issues, personality deficits, knowledge deficits, and boundary interactions. These issues can be quite complex but are still understandable. At Cary Counseling Center, teaching effective communication is only one small piece of a more comprehensive strategy during Relationship Counseling. Even more emphasis is placed upon teaching a couple principles of effective emotional regulation. This may involve learning how to influence one’s own emotional state before projecting rage or behaving in a way that is toxic to the relationship. Old shame issues are clarified so that they do not unconsciously disrupt the relationship. Principles of “tact” are taught so that both partners experience less threat to their psychological boundaries while negotiating their needs. Couples are also taught about how “ego states” are often critical to getting their needs met and how to anticipate and schedule getting together so that both parties are receptive to each other. Sometimes, other forms of therapy will be a necessary first step in couple’s work. For example, sometimes group therapy or individual therapy is necessary to change a person’s internal emotional responses before the couple’s external interactions can constructively become the main focus. While teaching is often employed in good Relationship Counseling, an emphasis is also placed on homework between sessions. The therapist often assigns homework in the form of communication or behavioral exercises. For example, a couple may be assigned homework to re-enact a recent argument but to do it in a newly agreed upon way. An individual may also be given homework to practice self-talk or guided imagery to deal with irrational beliefs or old feelings of shame that are intruding into the relationship. There are many other forms of homework that are too numerous to list here. The main point is that Cary Counseling therapists place an emphasis on practice and implementation in addition to insight. Currently, Dr. Bryce Kaye, Ms. Brandy Templeton, Ms. Julie Marshall, Ms. Deborah Riley and Ms. Barbara Ann Caudill are accepting referrals for marriage counseling. You can leave either of them a message at 919 467 1180.