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Couples Therapy Exercises : A Comprehensive Guide to Improving Relationships

No matter how lovey-dovey lives seem to appear on social media reels nowadays, the reality is that having problems as a couple is a common story. Many couples face different types of conflicts and challenges and they are often not able to resolve them between themselves, thus seeking help and guidance from a licensed therapist. A therapist can help you by providing couples therapy and various exercises to deal with your problems. So if you are wondering about whether couples therapy exercises are the right fit for you, read on to find out everything you need to know about couples therapy and the best exercises.

What Is Couples Therapy and How Can It Help?

In today’s stressful times, it can be difficult to maintain our relationships. Every relationship has conflicts, and learning how to handle them will help you resolve the issues, and also make your relationship stronger and healthier. However, many times it happens that it is not possible to resolve these conflicts by ourselves and we need an outsider to help us. This is where couples therapy comes in.

In couples therapy, two people work with a licensed therapist or counselor to help improve their relationship. There are certain types of counselors who specialize in working with couples, families, or on marriages. Just like any other form of therapy, couples therapy also needs a certain level of commitment and willingness on part of both partners to be open to work on resolving their issues.(12)

According to estimates by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, over 98 percent of their clients who were surveyed reported that such type of counseling worked excellently to improve their relationships.(345)

It is important to realize that counseling does not need to be somewhat of a guarded or secretive practice that only certain ‘types’ of people seek. Couples therapy can help anyone in a relationship regardless of sexual orientation and age. Couples therapy can help couples develop a more secure and closer bond with one another. The most important aspect of couple’s therapy is that both partners should be willing to commit to counseling with an open mind and be ready to communicate without pushing their partner away.

Couples Therapy Exercises : A Comprehensive Guide to Improving Relationships

Couples Therapy Exercises : A Comprehensive Guide to Improving Relationships

Today, access to the internet and other resources such as telemedicine has made couples therapy much more accessible to anybody who wants to engage in enhancing their relationship and self-improvement. Here are some easy couples therapy techniques and exercises to help you indulge in couple’s therapy.

  1. Practice Reflective Listening

    Reflective listening is one of the first things therapists ask couples to practice. This is a very useful exercise that involves a couple taking turns to be active listeners. In this couples therapy exercise, you practice using more ‘I’ phrases instead of using ‘you’ in your sentences. By practicing reflecting listening and becoming active listeners, couples can enhance healthy communication skills and also work on their conflict resolution skills.(6)

  2. Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)

    Many couples’ therapists make use of a technique known as emotionally focused therapy (EFT). EFT has been shown to have many benefits including facilitating long-lasting changes in one’s behavior.(7)

    The goal of EFT is for couples to identify certain maladaptive coping strategies or patterns in a relationship that could be interfering with their attachments. Through EFT, people are able to learn and utilize beneficial techniques to create and heal their attachments within the relationship.(8, 9)

  3. Solution-focused Therapy

    This couple’s exercise is especially directed towards those who are dealing with a particular issue in their relationship, trying to work towards a particular goal, or experiencing burnout. Solution-focused therapy is the perfect technique to consider as this exercise is a short-term goal-focused and evidence-based counseling approach that can help couples change by focusing on the constructive solution instead of arguing and dwelling on the problems.(10, 11)

  4. Narrative Therapy

    The counseling technique known as narrative therapy focuses on people describing their problems to their therapist in a narrative form and then rewriting their stories. This helps them see their own problems from a different angle and also makes them understand that no single problem can actually encapsulate their entire relationship. This form of couples exercise makes the people involved see that there will always be contradictions and inconsistencies in their own stories as well and to focus on that instead of indulging in fault-finding in their partner.(12, 13)

    Narrative therapy has been found to be beneficial for couples who feel their relationship is falling apart due to each other’s faults. Such couples usually believe that they are bound to fail in their romantic relationships and suffer emotional trauma because this is what they deserve from the start since they are failures at everything. According to a study done in 2016, narrative therapy has been found to reduce conflict and also increase cooperation between partners in a relationship.(14, 15)

  5. Gottman Method

    The Gottman method is another popular couple’s therapy exercise that is practiced by therapists. This technique has been designed specifically to help couples get a better understanding of each other while also managing and handling the conflict in their relationship. This exercise is also beneficial in helping with other problems including marital adjustment and intimacy.(161718)

    What makes the Gottman method so reliable is that it was developed by the Gottman Institute, which has over 40 years of research in this field. The institute even provides live workshops along with many take-home materials for couples to practice at home. Many therapists have also trained with the methods developed and recommended by the Gottman Institute.


If you are going through an unresolvable conflict in your relationship or you feel you have reached a point of stagnancy, it is a good idea to consider couples therapy. Remember that sometimes having a therapist help you see your relationship from a different, outsider’s perspective can help put things back on track. Before you begin couples therapy, it is important to discuss with your partner about what factors are important for both of you when finalizing a therapist. Ask for referrals from friends and family or read reviews online to find a couple’s therapist that meets both your needs.


  1. Johnson, S.M., Hunsley, J., Greenberg, L. and Schindler, D., 1999. Emotionally focused couples therapy: Status and challenges. Clinical psychology: Science and practice, 6(1), p.67.
  2. Harway, M. ed., 2004. Handbook of couples therapy. John Wiley & Sons.
  3. Cross, L.B., 2013. Couples therapy. Routledge.
  4. Lundblad, A.M. and Hansson, K., 2006. Couples therapy: effectiveness of treatment and long‐term follow‐up. Journal of family therapy, 28(2), pp.136-152.
  5. Advanced Solutions International, I. (no date) About marriage and family therapists. Available at: https://www.aamft.org/About_AAMFT/About_Marriage_and_Family_Therapists.aspx (Accessed: January 31, 2023).
  6. Jafari, A., Alami, A., Charoghchian, E., Delshad Noghabi, A. and Nejatian, M., 2021. The impact of effective communication skills training on the status of marital burnout among married women. BMC women’s health, 21(1), pp.1-10.
  7. Beasley, C.C. and Ager, R., 2019. Emotionally focused couples therapy: A systematic review of its effectiveness over the past 19 years. Journal of Evidence-Based Social Work, 16(2), pp.144-159.
  8. Wiebe, S.A. and Johnson, S.M., 2016. A review of the research in emotionally focused therapy for couples. Family Process, 55(3), pp.390-407.
  9. Greenberg, L.S. and Johnson, S.M., 1988. Emotionally focused therapy for couples. Guilford Press.
  10. What is solution-focused therapy? (2022) SolutionFocused Therapy Institute. Available at: https://solutionfocused.net/what-is-solution-focused-therapy/ (Accessed: January 31, 2023).
  11. Abdolreza Mirzavand, M.R. (2016) Effectiveness of solution-focused therapy on married couples’ Burnout, Iranian Journal of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Brieflands. Available at: https://brieflands.com/articles/ijpbs-4983.html (Accessed: January 31, 2023).
  12. Kim, H., Prouty, A.M. and Roberson, P.N., 2012. Narrative therapy with intercultural couples: A case study. Journal of Family Psychotherapy, 23(4), pp.273-286.
  13. Etchison, M. and Kleist, D.M., 2000. Review of narrative therapy: Research and utility. The Family Journal, 8(1), pp.61-66.
  14. Freedman, J.H. and Combs, G., 2000. Narrative therapy with couples. Comparative treatments for relationship dysfunction, pp.342-361.
  15. Hamidi, P., Bahari, S., Mostafavi, S.A. and Shamohammadi, M., 2016. The efficacy of the narrative therapy approach in reducing couples’ conflicts through couples therapy. Thrita, 5(3).
  16. Davoodvandi, M., Nejad, S.N. and Farzad, V., 2018. Examining the effectiveness of gottman couple therapy on improving marital adjustment and couples’ intimacy. Iranian journal of psychiatry, 13(2), p.135.
  17. Saadati Shamir, A., Saniee, M. and Zare, E., 2019. Effectiveness of Couple Therapy by Gottman Method on Family Function and Marital Adjustment in Divorce Applicant Couples. Iranian Journal of Rehabilitation Research, 5(2), pp.10-17.
  18. Rajaei, A., Daneshpour, M. and Robertson, J., 2019. The effectiveness of couples therapy based on the Gottman method among Iranian couples with conflicts: A quasi-experimental study. Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy, 18(3), pp.223-240.
Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:February 1, 2023

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