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15 Goals of Couples Therapy

happy couples photoCouples therapy is designed to bring out the best in you and your partner, strengthening the quality of your relationship, as a point of balance, allowing you to deal with issues in ways that support you to grow as individuals and a couple.

An emotionally fulfilling couple relationship is very much within reach, yet involves the willingness of both to stretch, and get to know and see, love and value both self and the other as unique beings, learning one another’s love language so to speak, as a basis for promoting a sense of safety and mutual understanding.

Why is safety critical? We’ve learned a lot about the brain and, as a result, better understand how intimacy works, and what factors increase chances a relationship will succeed versus factors that put the relationship at risk. Feelings of safety and love are literally married to one another by a “love hormone” that is released in the bloodstream, known as oxytocin. In other words, actions that enhance sense of safety and trust, also enhance sense of feeling loved and loving.

Bottom line: when a human being doesn’t feel safe, they do not feel loved or loving; and vice versa.

The emotional bond created by “romantic love” in the first stage, which survives the inevitable “power struggle” of the second, has an excellent chance of nurturing a gratifying lifelong connection.

It takes two to tango however, and this cannot be overstated!

Problems arise when power struggles cause imbalances in which both end up colluding to make one partner feel loved, safe, valued, and so on, at the expense of the other. Most toxicity is a result of fear-activating imbalances. It’s not suppose to be easy to obtain optimal outcomes. That’s why a 100% investment is necessary for each to make a commitment to own the part they plays in acting to keep the relationship strong and vibrant.

A couples relationship however is designed by nature to be a top notch school, a training ground of sorts. It’s where you gain a better understanding of your partner by better understanding yourself! You learn to connect to your inner core emotional strivings, i.e., for love and connection, recognition and meaningful contribution, which shape all human behavior.

Key goals in couples therapy are to:

  1. Deepen knowledge and understanding of yourself, your partner and your relationship.
  2. Structure your communications to allow each to feel safe enough to empathically connect.
  3. Identify one another’s fears and know what each needs to feel safe in the relationship.
  4. Make distinctions between making requests versus demands, sharing versus venting, connecting versus complaining.
  5. Talk together and listen in a way that each feels accepted, validated and understood.
  6. Identify one another’s triggers and defense strategies.
  7. Examine how wounds in childhood effect how each currently relates in your couple relationship.
  8. Identify and replace limiting beliefs or judgments with ones that energize you to co-create a mutually enriching relationship.
  9. Discover and embrace disowned, repressed or rejected parts of yourself that do not allow you to feel safe enough to fully love and honor yourself.
  10. Identify limiting subconscious scripts and beliefs that block communications and cause reactivity and defensiveness.
  11. Find balance between yearnings to be loved versus be accepted and valued as a unique contributer.
  12. Understand what you need to feel loved and clearly articulate that to your partner.
  13. Identify and replace old habits, defenses and coping strategies with enriching ones.
  14. Understand distinctions between healthy versus unhealthy expressions of anger.
  15. Rediscover the romance and the fun in your relationship.

Couples therapy is a proven effective environment to get a couple back on track, out of fear-patterns to love-and-safety ones!

It comes with a warning, however. It is for the courageous and strong, for those invested in their own growth and the other’s.

The process calls each to stretch self—inside. It requires self-study, honest self-reflection, and raw integrity to engage in feeling your feelings, becoming aware of your thoughts, and exploring childhood to discover how old wounds may impact your present potential. No matter how challenging, you both stretch — knowing this is key to harvesting the benefits of your own emotional fulfillment.

And you keep stretching, knowing that, because life is a journey of learning, it’s in your highest benefit.






15 Goals of Couples Therapy

Athena Staik, Ph.D.

Relationship consultant, author, licensed marriage and family therapist, Dr. Athena Staik motivates clients to break free of anxiety, emotion reactivity, and other addictive patterns, to awaken wholehearted relating to self and other. She is currently in private practice in Northern VA, and writing her book, What a Narcissist Means When He Says 'I Love You'": Breaking Free of Addictive Love in Couple Relationships. To contact Dr. Staik for information, an appointment or workshop, visit, or visit on her two Facebook fan pages DrAthenaStaik and DrStaik

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APA Reference
Staik, A. (2019). 15 Goals of Couples Therapy. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 22, 2020, from


Last updated: 6 Feb 2019
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