Life Style

Couples therapy to overcome the crisis

Save his couple. It is in these terms that Stéphanie (1), 41 years old, mother of two children, speaks of the therapy that she and her husband undertook five years ago. “We were not going through an acute crisis but after the birth of our first child, communication became difficultsays this Parisian. We blamed each other a lot and, for my part, I felt that my expectations vis-à-vis my husband, who had become a father, had evolved. I was afraid that we would get away, so I took the initiative and offered to see someone. »

Stéphanie took a long time to find the right person because there aren’t that many couple therapists. Not all psychiatrists, psychoanalysts or psychologists who receive patients for consultation are necessarily trained in couple therapy or family therapy.

A few weeks later, she and her partner found themselves in front of a therapist for an hour-long session. “We obviously started by emptying our bag by saying what was wrongremembers Stephanie. The scene resembled what was happening at home except that there was a third person who allowed us to hear what the other was saying and to understand better also what he felt. As the sessions progressshe continues, this place had become a kind of cocoon where we could talk to each other. There were tensions, tears and the impression, sometimes, that the therapist was not impartial, but I believe that this work, which lasted three years with moments of pause, allowed us to unravel something. »

Fix or break up

The life of a couple is made up of stages and major movements that can unbalance the relationship, recalls the psychiatrist and couple therapist Bernard Geberowicz (2). “The arrival or departure of children, illness, retirement or even a move can cause estrangement when spouses no longer evolve in sync, he explains. There are also times when sexuality is affected, with breakdowns of desire, or situations of adultery that can lead the couple to consult. »

According to Edith Berlizot, marriage counselor at Cler Amour et famille, infidelity is even one of the main reasons for consultation among the couples she receives. “There is not necessarily a passage to the act. It can only be virtual exchanges on social networks”, she specifies.

Philippe Brenot (3), psychiatrist, couple therapist and director of sexology education at the University of Paris 5, believes that sexuality should not be discussed during joint sessions. “Spouses cannot talk about it freely in front of their partnerhe observes. It is more interesting to see each one separately, during a few sessions with, of course, the agreement of the other. »

For a long time, women have been at the initiative of couples therapy, but more and more men are daring to take the plunge, according to specialists. “The important thing is that the two agree and that they come with the same objective, which is not always the caseemphasizes Bernard Geberowicz. This is also the subject of the first interview: to know if the two spouses are there to improve the relationship and reduce conflicts, to work on a trauma or if they are there to separate better, which also happens. »

No magic recipe

Make up or break up. Céline (1), 29 years old, mother of three children, had not decided anything but the evidence prevailed. “With my ex-husband, we went to see a therapist to find out if we were just in a communication deficit or if it was the end of our relationshipand, after a few sessions, we both understood that we had come to the end of our story”, testifies this resident of Yvelines. “The goal of therapy is not to save the couple, she assures. The therapist does not give a magic recipe but helps you to understand what is blocking. And sometimes what blocks you is that you are not with the right person. »

Since then, Céline has met another man, also divorced, with whom she married and had a child. Together for a year and a half, they decided to do “preventive” couple therapy to “avoid the pitfalls of the blended family”, she says. “As the situation is already naturally complicated, we wanted to start on solid foundations to move forward more calmly. »

Sometimes the reason why the couple consults is the tree that hides the forest, analyzes Édith Berlizot. “In marriage counselling, the spouses often come to try to solve a specific problem but, behind, there are obviously the foundations of the couple which can be fragile. The objective, here, is not to deepen this dimension but to welcome everyone unconditionally, to circulate the word in a peaceful and framed exchange, with a benevolent outside view. »

The #MeToo impact

The couple therapist will approach the therapy differently depending on his training (psychoanalytic, systemic or behavioral school) but will always have a psychological approach. “He will in particular identify the oedipal landmarks which do not need to be explained but which, thanks to therapeutic skills, will allow the relationship to evolve”points out Philippe Brenot.

According to a survey by (read the marks), 42% of the professionals surveyed note an increase in couple therapy since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Bernard Geberowicz and Philippe Brenot also observe a change in behavior linked to the #MeToo movement. “Today, I receive young women who are more demanding of their spousesand men destabilized by sometimes contradictory demands, analyzes the sexologist. Many want a strong shoulder to lean on but refuse male domination. And it’s complicated for the couple to find a new balance. »


The use of a psychologist

According to a survey by the site carried out in 2021, 93% of the professionals questioned ensure that anxiety and depression are the most frequent disorders which push the French to consult. Couple therapy comes second (52.1%), ahead of eating disorders, alcoholism and drug addiction.

According to a 2017 study for Psychologies, 31% of French people have already called on a shrink. In 2013, they were 28%. And 5% in 2001.

Among the people questioned, 70% benefited from individual therapy, 28% called on a therapist for their child, 8% for their spouse and 5% for their couple.


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