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Couples Therapist vs Couples Communication Coach: What’s Right for Your Relationship?

Updated: Dec 30, 2018

How is a Couples Communication Coach different from a therapist?

The Promise and the Challenge

Being in a committed relationship holds the promise of intimacy and a remedy for loneliness, however, it often comes with difficult challenges. When you experience tension or struggle in your marriage or partnership, it is usually because of a misunderstanding, and knowing how to communicate effectively can help resolve the situation.

Few of us know how to communicate our basic emotions and needs clearly and honestly, without blame. We frame conflicts in terms of right and wrong or good and bad, fostering a competitive dynamic with our loved ones, undermining trust, safety, and intimacy. When you’re caught in that negative feedback loop, having the same arguments over and over again, and you both want to get out of it, what can you do?

Seeking Support

Getting support from a trained professional is simply a smart move in today’s world where more couples come apart than stay together. And, as you are looking for help, it is useful to have some idea about what kind of support you want.

Traditional couples therapy is often based in psychology. The therapist diagnoses your problem and prescribes solutions, similar to a doctor-patient relationship. They tend to focus on individual histories and past traumas that may be playing out in your relationship.

Understanding how the past is impacting your behavior in the present can be useful, however, too often this diagnostic approach keeps you stuck in your head. You may understand your behaviors better, yet this does not give you the means to change them.

A couples communication coach offers a different approach. The coach is trained in Conscious Communication Skills, mediation, and conflict resolution, and facilitates live conversations between you in a private and confidential setting. They will help you see where your unconscious emotional reactions are hooking each other into patterns of competition that mire you in power struggles.

An effective coach will interrupt your habits of communication and offer you a way to express your true emotions and needs instead of your judgments. With skillful coaching you can learn how to be present and aware of old patterns and stories as they are occurring. Your improved sense of self-awareness effectively interrupts the patterns and allows you to communicate in a way that is easier for your partner to understand.

Instead of offering you a diagnosis or prescribing a remedy, a coach works with you to strengthen your natural capacity for self-awareness and personal growth. A coach does not presume to know what solutions will work best for you or your relationship. You are responsible for doing the work and finding your own solutions using the tools the coach provides.

A good coach aims to make themselves unnecessary by teaching you how to use relationship tools effectively on your own. This work can be hard and will often stretch both of you beyond your comfort zone. If done skillfully, this stretch can strengthen your relationship, the way a good stretch in yoga practice strengthens your body.

A traditional therapist is trained to diagnose your problems, help you understand the psychology of past traumas, and offer solutions. You may prefer to seek help from someone like this who gives you their analysis and prescribes remedies.

A communication coach teaches you how to recognize you and your partner’s immediate emotions and needs, empowering you to resolve you own issues and come up with your own solutions. Instead of delving into your individual stories and trying to analyze what happened, this approach enables you to focus on what each of you actually needs now in order to feel satisfied and move on together.

Contact Miles for a consultation


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