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Cognitive Behavior is Key in Relationship Therapy

Deborah O. Day, Psy.D - Monday, March 13, 2017

Why is Cognitive Behavior key in Relationship Therapy?



Well, let’s break it down so it is easy to understand. First of all, let’s define what exactly cognitive behavioral therapy is. CBT, or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is about shifting the way you feel about things, in this case, it would be the difficulties in your relationship. This therapy practice approaches short term goals, and is very interactive. People tend to form patterns in their way of thinking, and it is in those patterns that we shape how we feel about something, or a specific subject matter (Psych Central, 2017).


What are some of the most common topics with relationship therapy?


Probably one of the most popular heard complaints among couples, is the desire for the other person to change. The desire for the other person to change a certain behavior, perhaps a certain form of communicating, and commonly voiced, change in one’s attitude. For example, a person may seek for their partner to change their eating habits. Maybe one person is leading a healthier lifestyle, and for compatibility reasons, they would like to see their partner change their lifestyle. Maybe the conflict is one partner’s spending habits. The common perception, is traditionally that a person wants to see their partner’s behavior change without them making any changes themselves (Psych Central, 2017).


Secrets is a huge topic in relationship therapy. Couples that keep secrets from one another and try to participate only partially in therapy will not see any positive changes. Secrets build up blockage in a relationship, and create strong barriers that hinder any real chance of interpersonal intimacy (Psych Central, 2017).


A common problem in relationships is that many couples will wait too long before starting therapy. It’s like therapy is their last resort before divorce or break up. When couples wait too long to start relationship therapy, they are already at the end of their fraying rope, and sadly, it is too difficult of a return to come back from. Words cannot be unsaid, and forgiveness is one of the hardest tasks in growth.


So, why is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy important to Orlando relationship therapy? Simply put, CBT is a hands-on type of therapy in which the goal is to change one’s perception. The therapist seeks to change the partners’ feelings about one another and their behaviors. For example, cognitive behavioral therapy is about building skills and using those skills within the relationship. It is common that the love for one another is strong, while one or neither partner possesses the skills needed for a successful relationship (American Psychological Association, 2017).


Dr. Arthur Freeman, author, educator, licensed clinical psychologist, he is also a fellow of the American Psychological Association (Society of Clinical Psychology as well as Psychotherapy and Family Psychology divisions), the American Psychological Society, the Academy of Clinical Psychology, and the Pennsylvania Psychological Association. Dr. Freeman’s approach to CBT can be broken down into seemingly five simple steps:



Positives- Identifying the positive things in the relationship is essential to moving forward. If one or both parties only recognize the negative aspects of the relationship, the desire to repair the relationship and grow are slim.


Negatives- Calmly and unemotionally identify the difficulties in the relationship. Clarify what areas that each partner needs to work on, and/or what areas bother the other person. Doing this in an unemotional state in a structured setting, allows people to hear each other more clearly without becoming defensive.


Confidentiality- It is important for the therapist to have one on one time with each party of the relationship. This allows the person to feel at ease being honest about how they feel. This also gives the opportunity for truth to surface if either party is keeping secrets.


Steering- Clearly identify the direction of the therapy. At what stage are the people in the relationship at? Are they willing to make changes? Are they willing to work toward growing together versus apart?


The Plan- Here, the therapist will identify their plan, moving forward for the couple. The therapist will recommend the skill-building plan and how to implement those newly developed skills toward building a stronger bond together.



At Psychological Affiliates, psychology in Orlando, FL is a comprehensive and complex process. Like an onion, in therapy you have to peel back the layers to uncover what is truly there. An interactive practice such as Cognitive Behavior is essential to the success in relationship therapy (American Psychological Association, 2017).



American Psychological Association. (2017). American Psychological Association. Retrieved from

Psych Central. (2017). Psych Central. Retrieved from

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