Couples therapy, as well as marital therapy, is a beneficial yet complex way to improve the quality of relationships between partners. Most often in these forms of counseling, a clinician must treat the relationship itself as the “client” and therefore will focus on the health and wellbeing of the “dyad” above all else.
This can mean the therapist is unable to address the individual mental health concerns or needs of a partner. Sometimes couples therapy may be complicated by one or both partners having psychiatric symptoms which may not be best treated through relationship counseling. In these cases, it is important to discern what can be addressed in couples therapy and what should be addressed in individual therapy, psychiatric treatment, or other forms of mental health care. A psychological evaluation of each partner can identify individual mental health needs and issues, as well as specific recommendations for each partner and for the relationship as a “team.”
One of the more challenging tasks of the couple’s therapist is too thoroughly understand each partner’s personality as an individual, and how each partner’s personality may compliment, conflict with, and otherwise interact with, their counterpart. Fortunately, personality variables are highly measurable and can be formally assessed in ways that “map” onto relational dynamics. The features, difficulties, and positives of a relationship can be examined in detail through an evaluation of each partner. Herein lies the advantage of a psychological assessment for each partner.
The debriefing and feedback provided after an couple’s evaluation is unique from a typical psychological assessment debriefing. Both partners attend and have an opportunity to hear a well-rounded, honest, and actionable explanation of their own personality, as well as their partner’s.
This appointment itself is therapeutic and can establish a stronger level of mutual understanding, empathy, emotional resonance, and connection than previously experienced by each partner. This forms a firm foundation for movement, with the guidance of a therapist, toward a more desirable relationship.