Addressing Relationship Problems Using Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)



Addressing RelationshipProblems Using Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

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Addressing Relationship Problems Using Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy(CBT)

CBT orCognitive-Behavioral Therapy is one kind of psychotherapy thatemphasizes on solving problems by changing obstructive behavior orthinking (Dadras, 2011). Most problems in any relationship stem frombehavior or thinking, which are unhelpful. Therefore, the use of CBTcan be very useful in solving problems faced by couples in arelationship. So, the main purpose of this paper is to present atheory-based treatment plan for a couple by focusing on theprinciples of CBT and the relational dynamics of the Gottman couplestherapy.


David and LauraJenkins have been married for four years. They are both successfulprofessionals, who remain pretty busy with their jobs. Problems inthe relationship started around a year ago when David got apromotion. He became more focused in his work. He even brings hiswork at home sometimes. Eventually, Laura also started doing the sameand that led to poor communication between the two. Now it seems likeachieving career goals has become their main focal point instead ofkeeping the relationship going. So the relationship lost its luster.But they both want to stay together, however, they don’t know whereand how to begin the fixing process.

TheTheory-based Treatment Plan for the Couple

‘Cognitive-BehavioralMarital Therapy’ (CBMT) will be used here to fix the problems ofthis couple. CBT mainly focuses on people’s thoughts, behaviors andemotions. According to Harway (2005), these 3 components areinterrelated and interdependent. Each one of them dictates thedynamics of the other two. Based on the emotional dynamics presentedin the Gottman &amp Gottman (2009) video, the Jenkins are a ‘highrisk couple’ due to their low level of interaction. Using the CBMT,the short-term goal for this couple would be to enhance theinterpersonal communication between them. And the long-term goalswould be to split from their previous patterns of behaviors andthoughts, and ultimately, motive and help them to stay together.


The main emphasis ofthe CBMT based interventions will be to modify or change thebehaviors of David and Laura in order to help them cut loose fromtheir typical patterns of behavior that have been keeping them frommaintaining a healthy relationship and communicating effectively. Thefirst theory-based intervention will be a daily 2-hour communicationbetween the two without any interruption. This will also includetalking about the problematic issues in the relationship with thetherapist as the mediator. Here, the therapist will observe how thecouple interacts with one another, find the troublesome areas,identify the behaviors that are detrimental to their marriage andguide them to establish an effective communication. The therapistwill give them some guidelines and some test tasks, which they willpractice at home. There will be some ground rules here. They are asfollows: no cell phone or communication device will be allowed duringthe communication sessions, the interaction has to be done withoutraising the voice, the use of phrases like ‘You never…’ or ‘Youalways..’ is banned during the communication session, and onepartner shouldn’t interrupt the other while talking. This regularpractice of communication in an effective manner will help the coupledevelop a real pattern of having a fruitful communication in everydaylife.

The secondintervention is about helping them make the relationship their firstpriority. They will be advised to go on a date once a week, wherethey will repeat the things they used to do when they were firstdating. During the dating sessions they will appreciate andcomplement one another. This will revitalize the relationship.

AnticipatedOutcomes of the Interventions

As mentioned above,the daily communication session will teach the couple how to haveconstructive communication without any interruptions, which they willbe able to implement in their real lives even after when the CBMT isover. This will solve the problem of poor communication. And thesecond intervention will the spice up the romance between them onceagain, rejuvenate their relationship and help them explore each otherone more time.


In the end it can besaid that, since CBT solves problems by changing obstructive behavioror thinking of individuals, therefore, it can successfully be used toaddress relational issues. This can either be done through the CBMTbased interventions mentioned above or through customized therapeuticplans depending on the unique circumstances of a family or a couple.


Dadras, I. (2011). Cognitive-behavioral therapywith couples and families: A comprehensive guide forclinicians.&nbspJournalof Marital and Family Therapy,&nbsp37(3),371-371.

Gottman, J. M., &amp Gottman, J. S.(Producers). (2009a). Gottman couples therapy: A new research-basedapproach: Our research methods [Video file]. Retrieved from

Harway, M. (2005).&nbspHandbookof couples therapy. Hoboken, N.J.:John Wiley.