Join Kelly Matthews, LCSW and Miriam Bellamy, LMFT for the first in a series of 6 short webinars on marriage and marriage counseling. In this series we will be covering several topics regarding the marital relationship including infidelity, parenting, conflict, distance, and divorce. Today’s topic is marriage counseling and what the public needs to know about the options they have. There are two primary categories of marriage counseling available: there is attachment based marriage counseling and systems based. Kelly and I discuss some of the differences between the two fundamentally different approaches.

An attachment based approach is going to be primarily focused on the expression of feelings. Attachment theory teaches that problems in marriage occur because of problems with one’s original attachment to one’s parents. The idea in the therapy is that if couples can express their feelings to their spouses and be heard and validated, that the attachment issues with one’s parents will be resolved, more or less, with the spouse becoming the new safe relationship from which a person can blossom and grow. Common interventions include the teaching of various communication techniques, the encouragement towards dates nights, more sex, more vulnerability, compromise, and so forth.

A systems based approach is primarily focused on the balance between emotion and thinking. The focus is on what people think with coaching and guidance on the difference between one’s emotions and one’s thoughts. The goal is to develop a more solid sense of self through developing a broader perspective of one’s marriage and one’s place in it and in the larger emotional “system” in which one lives. The emphasis is on what happens between people, and less so what happens between one’s ears, a place that systems therapists understand people can get lost in for entire life spans. A systems therapist in couples counseling will look at patterns of interaction and helps people to see their part in the patterns and then to learn to interact in more mature ways.

Here are a few excerpts from different segments of the webinar:

Kelly: “We are feeling creatures that think.”

Miriam: “You get to a point where, and so many people are frustrated with this, where you’ve expressed all the feelings, and it hasn’t changed anything.”

Kelly: “I think it’s so important to understand the context of human partnership with BOTH of those things…both feelings AND cognition. That I think is the biggest draw to systems therapy and the biggest help to couples.”

Tune in below and let us know what you think! And if you’d like more information about couples counseling from a systems perspective, please feel free to contact Kelly or me. Our contact info is just below. Or you can check out The Center for Family Consultation or The Bowen Center to learn more about the approach.

Kelly Matthews, LCSW: matthewslcsw@comcast.net; 847-691-5347

Miriam Bellamy, LMFT: mrbellamy924@gmail.com; 404-932-9320; More on Marriage Counseling HERE