How Is Trauma-Informed Couples Coaching Different Than Couples Therapy?

Trauma blocks a relationship from true connection. Trauma-informed couples coaching gets below the story to heal the pattern and allow for true intimacy.

While I can’t answer this question broadly or speak for everyone, I can speak to some ways that my couples coaching, which is trauma-informed, is different than couples therapy that I’ve experienced and as I’ve researched. Of course, those who wish to will find exceptions to what I’m saying. Those who wish to look for solutions will read this information as innovation and ask questions. 

It is important to understand that talking about problems, as in conventional therapy, doesn’t necessarily heal problems. People go to therapy to heal problems, but talk alone won’t do that. 

With every relationship problem, there is an underlying trauma. This traumatic event could be conscious or unconscious, it could have to do with the previous partner or parent and therefore not get talked about in couples therapy between two partners. And what we know about trauma is that it is very frequently trapped in the body memory but not in the cognitive memory. Therefore, couples can have and express behaviors that are rooted in traumatic memory, but couples therapy that only involves mental processes might not ever reach the true issue and will certainly be less likely to heal the actual trauma. 

Often in troubled relationships, couples wait until there is a serious problem before engaging with a therapist. By this time, the couple has often erected a wall between their connection, and while talking through a problem or developing communication skills might help to increase understanding, will not fix a true pattern of disruption, because you need to heal the disruption in the brain in order to connect. 

Patterns in the relationship that are dysfunctional result in breaches in connection. What every individual wants, unless they are sociopathic, is connection. Even neurodiverse individuals want connection, despite common social myths. 

Connection can not be healed unless we heal the trauma in the brain. As Dr. Stephen Porges, author of the Polyvagal Theory says, “Trauma compromises our ability to engage with others by replacing patterns of connection with patterns of protection.” 

In trauma-informed couples coaching, I guide couples to involve aspects of trauma healing modalities in how I coach their connection. Rather than attempting to pick apart with conversation what happened in the past and who may be at fault, we look at the present moment, using mindful attunement and noticing, and I teach couples to develop practices that heal breeches in connection. 

The walls naturally begin to crumble. The blame unnecessary. Couples orient toward solution-finding. 

Did you ever hear couples say that one or the other of them “won” therapy? It is common, I found in my research, that couples often feel that there is more blame and sidedness after therapy sessions than there is connection. 

Many couples who go to therapy looking for true healing do not understand the role of relational trauma, epigenetic trauma (trauma passed through the DNA), and how trauma is actually creating their disconnection. Many couples would also prefer to work in a present moment / forward facing modality rather than a conversational modality that focuses on the past. 

Couples Coaching removes the sigma that “something is wrong” with the relationship by inviting both partners into a growth-focused program, where both partners are learning the same skills, both partners are evolving in compassion and understanding, and both are getting their needs met. 

Statistically, about 40% of couples who go to traditional therapy end up divorcing within four years. The results of my coaching are most often greater connection, greater empathy and understanding (despite we talk less about understanding the past), greater intimacy and bonding, and a rekindled enthusiasm for the direction of their union. As one recent couple said, “Honestly, before this, we were going down the road of divorce. Our communication didn’t exist and we fought daily. Now, we are mindful of one another. We have a whole new way to communicate and connect with one another.” This couple is planning to spend the rest of their lives together. 

I will not tell you that Couples Coaching is better for you than therapy – that is for you to decide. I am saying that there is a conscious, progressive, effective alternative out there that is growth-based and available to you. I am seeing this methodology heal relationships, and I want that for you if you are in a relationship that needs a serious boost. In twelve weeks, you can change the trajectory of your relationship. 

Visit www.sarahpoet.com/consciousrelating for more information. 

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