At Keys to Counseling in Tampa, FL, I specialize in a specific type of therapy called Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT). Established by Dr. Albert Ellis in 1955, REBT is an active, directive, solution-focused, and goal-oriented approach to counseling and it is recognized as the pioneering form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
When we think of REBT, we tend to assume it is an approach primarily used with individuals; however, REBT is an excellent therapy model for relationship counseling. Though there are many types of therapy utilized with couples, I believe that REBT is a superior method, as it provides couples with solution-focused counseling that can quickly alleviate emotional and behavioral distress, rapidly improve communication, and ultimately produce long-term solutions! REBT couples counseling uniquely encourages both partners to work through their own cognitive, emotive, and behavioral challenges withintheir couples counseling sessions. This highlights personal vulnerabilities for both partners, and when done in the presence of a compassionate and knowledgeable REBT clinician, it can cultivate tremendous support, empathy, and trust between both partners that will create an understanding tone and uplifting ambience for the remainder of counseling, as well as for their relationship future!
When I begin working with couples, I help them understand that we are all on the same team, and to show them that, in couples and marriage counseling, I view each couple as one client, as opposed to two separate clients. Therefore, just as I recommend that couples prioritize the collective needs of their relationship above their own individual desires, as a counselor, I make the needs of each couple my priority and together we collaborate on establishing shared therapeutic goals for the relationship, as well as a plan for how to achieve our mutual objectives throughout our work together.
Using REBT, I help couples to start thinking more rationally about their partners, their relationship, and their perspective on love. In other words, to truly understand the reality of love, partners will have to surrender their rigid demands and unrealistic expectations about love, which they have likely believed for so long that they are often unaware of how irrational their beliefs may be; this creates an excellent foundation for fostering growth, healing, and change in their relationship.
I also encourage couples to find an emotional solution prior to a practical one. This means that before we try to practically resolve a specific problem within the relationship, we firstly focus on evaluating the way each partner thinks about the problem. By examining the way each partner thinks about a problem, I can better assess if they are thinking about it rationally or irrationally. Generally, I do discover the presence of irrational beliefs; therefore, I help both partners to work towards replacing their irrational beliefs with rational ones. This is referred to as the emotional solution, because when they learn to think more rationally in one circumstance, they are better equipped to think more rationally in future circumstances. In essence, by focusing on the emotional solution, I not only help couples to more effectively deal with future challenges, but I also help them to learn how to distinguish healthy relationship dissatisfaction from unhealthy demands and unrealistic expectations.
Rational thinking is the key component in couples successfully achieving their shared therapeutic goals in couples and marriage counseling. These goals are discussed in the beginning of therapy, and each session, I check in with both partners to inquire how they are feeling about the goals we have previously set, where they believe they are with accomplishing these goals, and what additional goals (if any) they would like to add to our therapeutic agenda.
Within the first couples counseling session, I help my clients to understand that all of us are responsible for our own emotional and behavioral reactions within life, as well as within our relationships; consequently, it is helpful to avoid blaming our partner for the way that we feel and behave. Furthermore, I encourage each partner to recognize, resolve, and replace their own irrational beliefs about unmet desires, because the most effective way to facilitate change in our partner is to firstly work towards changing our self.
At Keys to Counseling in Tampa, Florida, my mission is to promote healthy living through rational thinking! I provide both individual and couples counseling, and I would be honored to cognitively, emotively, and behaviorally accompany you on your journey to living, loving, being, and staying better!
Written by Jaclyn Hall, Founder of Keys to Counseling in Tampa, FL