5. Resolving conflict
The Resolving Marital Conflicts Questionnaire helps couples identify conflicts, coping strategies, and the effectiveness of these strategies.
Used in session, couples can explore problematic coping styles and replace these with more effective ways of resolving and managing conflict.
10 Questionnaires & Questions to Ask Clients
Asking questions and having clients complete assessments and questionnaires can provide insight to both the therapist and the individuals in the relationship.
The first few sessions of couples counseling are generally guided by intake questions and gathering information about the relationship. After the intake, more specific areas of the relationship can be explored.
1. How deep is your love quiz
This questionnaire was designed to help couples learn and understand how committed they are to the relationship.
It distinguishes between lust and love and is great for counseling couples in early stages of relationships or for premarital counseling.
2. Learn about your partner
This fun worksheet asks a variety of questions about one’s partner. The idea is to see how many questions one partner can answer without asking the other.
After completing the worksheet, partners can share responses and fill in unanswered questions. This can create dialogue and an opportunity to learn new things about one another.
3. Love language quiz
Couples will be able to identify how they give and receive love through physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, and receiving gifts.
4. Questions to ask
To develop a vision and direction for therapy and for the couple’s future, a therapist would ask:
- What does your ideal partnership look like in five years?
It can also be helpful to have the couple focus on the strengths of the relationship in session. Ask questions like:
- What are three things you appreciate about your partner?
- What is your partner’s greatest strength?
To improve the relationship, use the following questions:
- What positive relationship rules do you follow?
- What do you wish your partner would do more?
- How does your relationship affect your levels of joy?
- What positive changes do you want to make in your life?
For more, have a look at our blog post Therapy Questions.
A Look at Behavioral Couples Therapy
Behavioral Couples Therapy (BCT) is a form of therapy designed for relationships where one partner is addicted to alcohol or drugs (O’Farrell & Schein, 2000).
The goal is to improve the couple’s relationship and build support for abstinence through acceptance and change.
BCT typically comprises 12–20 weekly couples sessions over a three-to-six-month period. In these sessions, a therapist will teach and model communication behaviors, such as listening, expressing emotions, negotiating requests, and expressing appreciation (O’Farrell & Schein, 2000). Homework assignments are often given to practice these skills and increase commitment to both the relationship and staying sober.
A core component of BCT is a “recovery contract,” which involves daily rituals to reward abstinence (O’Farrell & Schein, 2000). The components of a contract general include daily affirmations, medication compliance, peer support and community involvement, weekly drug screens, positive weekly activities to support recovery and physical health, and sharing progress with one another on a calendar.
While substance use disorders have historically been viewed as an individual problem, research has demonstrated the important role that partners and families play in both the origin and maintenance of addiction.
BCT addresses addiction as something that exists within a larger family system and treats couples as a single unit (O’Farrell & Schein, 2000). BCT increases abstinence rates, improves relationship functioning and emotional problems, and reduces social costs and domestic violence better than individual treatments (O’Farrell & Schein, 2000).
Training in Couples Counseling: 6 Programs
Working with couples can be a complex and challenging task for therapists and health professionals. There are a variety of trainings, certifications, and opportunities to learn specific techniques and gain experience that can help in counseling relationships.
1. EFT training
This EFT course is presented by its founder, Dr. Sue Johnson. EFT is an effective form of couples therapy that addresses attachment theory and how to help couples find secure and satisfying connections in relationships.
2. AASECT certification
The AASECT offers a certification course for members interested in sex education, counseling, and therapy. This global organization is a leading resource for the field of human sexuality. Sex therapy is a highly specialized field of couples counseling and can be a wonderful addition to counseling training and education.
3. The Gottman Institute
The Gottman method of couples therapy is an evidence-based practice that has effectively helped thousands of couples navigate relationship difficulties and find healthy connections.
The Gottman institute offers online and in-person training as well as a full certification track.
3 Online training programs
1. Certification in relationship counseling
This training focuses on CBT for couples. The online certification provides a basic foundation for understanding relationships, communication, love languages, how to resolve conflict, and develop strategies for solving problems.
2. Relationship coaching
Relationship coach training offers those without a professional license the opportunity to work with couples and individuals to improve aspects of a relationship.
Relationship coaching has been used to help couples, those going through a divorce, and individuals not yet in a relationship but seeking a partner.
3. Couples Institute
This course provides ongoing written and verbal lessons. The Couples Institute also offers continuing education for a variety of healthcare professionals.
Resources From PositivePsychology.com
Here at PositivePsychology.com, we have an extensive collection of free and subscription worksheets specifically designed to help with couples counseling.
Among our free worksheets, you will find the Imago Workup Worksheet, which is based on Imago Therapy. It can help individuals as they look to enter a relationship or search for a partner. By examining past relationships, childhood experiences, and personal preferences, individuals can establish a healthy connection with a future partner.
All couples go through periods of conflict and emotional distress. Coping with difficult emotions is a foundational aspect of a healthy relationship. This worksheet helps individuals in a relationship cope with and respond to the negative emotions of a partner and navigate conflict in an effective way.
For more tools, you will find over 450 activities and assessments in our Positive Psychology Toolkit© designed to help with counseling.
In addition, a recommended read is Building Healthy Relationships, which provides a variety of worksheets and a wealth of information to assist couples at all stages of a relationship. From getting to know your partner to developing healthy behaviors for intimacy and connection, a diverse selection of ideas and practical activities are provided.
Another great article to supplement this resource is our article Couples Therapy Worksheets, Questions & Activities, which includes 21 worksheets for your couples therapy sessions.
A Take-Home Message
Couples counseling includes different approaches and is an effective form of psychotherapy to improve relationships. It can be helpful at any stage of a relationship regardless of status or longevity. From premarital counseling to rebuilding a long-lasting marriage, this short-term form of therapy can be helpful.
Couples counseling addresses a wide range of relationship issues, including conflict, feelings of disconnection, infidelity, issues related to intimacy, and external stressors. Specialized forms of couples therapy such as BCT can help deal with issues of substance abuse.
Relationships are difficult, and they directly impact an individual’s mental and physical wellbeing. Getting help through counseling as a couple can improve all aspects of wellbeing for both partners and can help facilitate a lasting relationship.
We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Positive Relationships Exercises for free.