Though three distinct categories of therapy are listed here, they often go together. Couples Therapy, for example, often is combined with Individual Therapy and Family Therapy.
Similarly, though one may present with a problem with depression, at times an addictive behaviour or tendency may surface which slightly modifies the therapeutic focus.
So please treat the categories presented here as flexible guidelines:
Though the main keys toward happiness and efficiency lie within the individual, the dynamic that is the couple introduces issues that create different and unique situations (or 'opportunities for growth').
Foremost for many is the realization and implementation of the principle that one cannot control the other person. Though easier said than done, this is one special dynamic that can be worked on in the here and now under the guidance of a therapist trained in couples therapy.
A Couples Therapist is more than a mediator (though by nature, having a third person is often helpful). He/she is trained to notice and slowly but surely help a couple improve their communication, get in touch with feelings, learn to act and relate as a team, not competitors. Insecurities and jealousy, for example, can engender competition.
So either independently or in conjunction with Individual Therapy, Couples Therapy exists as an important element in the toolbox of therapies.
It might be said that all therapy is indeed 'individual,' at least in the sense that ultimate influence and control of behaviour and attitudes is the purview and concern only of the individual.
Although we often think and act as if we are able to control our spouse, children, boss, neighbour etc, overwhelming evidence is to the contrary.
The serenity prayer of the 12-step programme of alcoholics anonymous speaks succinctly to this point: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."
This knowledge can be quite freeing, in truth, in that controlling our own thoughts, feelings and intentions can and should be a full-time job, leaving no time to attempt the same with or to others.
Having said all this, one-on-one therapy either alone or in conjunction with couples and/or family therapy, is unique and 'simple,' in that only you and the therapist need interact.
You may wish to speak about other people or you may not. In any case, the primary action, here and now, in the present, is between you and me.
This offers more of a freedom to 'be oneself' than when one's spouse is present or other family members. in individual therapy, you wear only one hat. you are not primarily a parent or spouse. you are the sum of all the hats you wear in life, certainly, but for this session, it is above all simply you and I spending an hour of our lives trying to make sense of it all.
Individual therapy can be extremely powerful as the bond between therapist and client can be formed more quickly than in other therapeutic milieu. this is valuable since, as mentioned above, the strength of the individual is key.
Though a couple can of course be a "family", here we are referring mostly to the nuclear family, parents and children. We include also 3-generational families.
The family is a network and just as a radio or tv network needs and thrives on proper communication, so it is with the family. Without it, the family is begging for trouble—sooner or later.
Is it necessary, is it kind, is it important are three key questions to ask before initiating communication.
Is what is being discussed closely related to current time as possible, is another consideration. Bringing up old issues normally does not carry with it the energy of a 'real time' issue. We can relax, however, in the knowledge that always undealt with issues arise in the here and now. 'If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,' is fine, but if it is broken, rest assured it will present itself.
Though children often manifest their parents' issues, they also bring their own to the family table. Though this may 'complicate' matters, from a certain point of view, it also, of course, magnifies the opportunities for love and joy. That is where we want to go in and out of therapy.