Therapy for Couples & Dyads

Willow Counseling can provide relationship-focused therapy for the following partnerships:

Couples: any partnership between two people who are in a committed, romantic relationship with one another

Dyads: any partnership between two people who are in a non-romantic relationship with one another, including but not limited to Parent-Child, Roommates, Friends, and Business Partners

Benefits of Healthy Relationships

Relationships are crucial to humans for several reasons. 

Emotional Support

Relationships provide emotional support, comfort, and companionship. Having someone to share joys, sorrows, and everyday experiences with can greatly enhance well-being.

Health Benefits

Strong relationships have been linked to better physical and mental health outcomes. They can reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and even boost the immune system.

Social Connection

Humans are social beings, and relationships fulfill our innate need for social interaction. They help us feel connected to others and prevent feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Personal Growth

Interacting with others allows us to learn about ourselves, develop empathy, and grow as individuals. Relationships provide opportunities for self-reflection, feedback, and personal development.

Sense of Belonging

Relationships give us a sense of belonging and identity within our social groups, whether it's with family, friends, romantic partners, or communities.

Acheivement + Success

Healthy relationships can provide support and encouragement that helps individuals achieve their goals and aspirations. Whether it's in professional pursuits, personal projects, or other endeavors, having supportive relationships can make a significant difference.

Overall, relationships are fundamental to human existence, enriching our lives in countless ways and contributing to our overall happiness and well-being.

How Relationships Can Wound

Relationships can bring immense joy and fulfillment, but they can also bring pain and hurt.

Conflict & Miscommunication

Disagreements and misunderstandings are common in relationships. Poor communication, differing expectations, and unresolved conflicts can lead to hurt feelings and emotional pain.

Vulnerability & Trust

Building intimate relationships requires vulnerability and trust. When trust is broken through betrayal, dishonesty, or breaches of confidentiality, it can result in deep emotional wounds.

Expectations & Disappointment

Unrealistic expectations or unmet needs within a relationship can lead to disappointment and hurt. Whether it's expecting a partner to fulfill certain roles or hoping for specific behaviors, when these expectations aren't met, it can cause emotional pain.

Loss & Separation

Relationships sometimes end due to various reasons such as relocation, career changes, or personal differences. The loss of a relationship, whether through breakup, divorce, or death, can result in profound emotional pain and grief.

Insecurity & Rejection

Rejection or feelings of inadequacy within a relationship can lead to hurt. Whether it's feeling unloved, unwanted, or not valued, these experiences can be deeply painful.

Emotional Wounds & Past Experiences

Past experiences, such as childhood trauma or previous relationship issues, can influence current relationships. Unresolved emotional wounds may resurface and cause pain within new relationships.

Power Dynamics & Abuse

In unhealthy relationships characterized by power imbalances or abuse, one person may intentionally inflict emotional or physical harm on the other, causing significant pain and suffering.

Loss of Identity or Autonomy

In some cases, individuals may feel they've lost their sense of self or autonomy within a relationship, leading to feelings of suffocation or resentment.


While relationships can be a source of great happiness and fulfillment, it's important to acknowledge that they can also bring pain and hurt. Building healthy relationships involves effective communication, mutual respect, empathy, and a willingness to address conflicts and challenges together. 

Attachment Theory & Relationships

Attachment theory, developed by psychologist John Bowlby and later expanded upon by Mary Ainsworth and others, is a psychological framework that explores the nature of emotional bonds between individuals, particularly focusing on the relationship between infants/young children and their caregivers.

At its core, attachment theory proposes that early experiences with caregivers shape an individual's beliefs, expectations, and behaviors in relationships throughout their lifespan. The theory suggests that the quality of these early attachment bonds influences an individual's emotional development, social interactions, and sense of security.

Attachment theory has been influential in understanding human development, shaping parenting practices, and informing therapeutic interventions aimed at addressing relationship difficulties and promoting emotional well-being across the lifespan.

Each individual’s attachment style significantly influences how they think and behave in relationship with others. Within intimate relationships, being aware of and understanding the role of our own attachment style allows us to make sense of our perceptions, interactions, and responses. If we know our attachment style, we can incorporate practices in our daily lives to honor our needs and care for ourselves appropriately. Willow offers the safety and support to clients as they explore their attachment style and learn how to foster healing and meaningful change. 


“Vulnerability is having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.”

Brene Brown

Therapy for Relationships Can Help

When relationships become hard or hurtful, therapy can help by improving communication, repairing the emotional connection between partners, and strengthening the relational bond. Willow therapists primarily use the following relationship therapies when working with couples and dyads: EFCT, Gottman Method, and Prepare & Enrich.

Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT)

Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy (EFCT) is a counseling approach that helps couples improve their relationships by focusing on emotions and attachment needs. 

This type of therapy is a short-term, structured therapy that typically ranges from 8-20 60-minute sessions. It is based on attachment science and is backed by a substantial body of research. EFCT can help with a variety of relational concerns, such as for couples dealing with depression, with anxiety resulting from trauma, with medical illness and/or with forgiveness dilemmas. It is also used with a variety of cultural groups and education levels and is beneficial for couples regardless of gender or sexual orientation. 

Through the three stages of de-escalation and engagement, restructuring negative patterns, and consolidating and integrating new patterns, EFCT helps couples explore their feelings, identify negative interaction patterns, and find healthier ways of relating.

The Dance

In Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT), the "Tango" refers to the interactive dance of emotions and behaviors that couples engage in within their relationship. Similar to the intricate steps of a tango dance, couples often find themselves caught in repetitive patterns of interaction characterized by emotional responses and behavioral reactions. These patterns typically involve one partner pursuing emotional connection or validation from the other, while the other partner may respond by withdrawing or shutting down emotionally. The pursuit and withdrawal dynamic can create a cycle of disconnection and conflict within the relationship.

The cycle of pursuing and withdrawing is a central focus of Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy. It often begins with one partner expressing a need for closeness, emotional support, or validation from their partner. This may manifest as attempts to initiate conversation, seek reassurance, or express vulnerability. In response, the other partner may feel overwhelmed, defensive, or inadequate, leading them to withdraw emotionally or physically from the interaction. This withdrawal can further trigger feelings of rejection or abandonment in the pursuing partner, perpetuating the cycle.

Through Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy, couples learn to recognize and understand the underlying emotions and attachment needs driving their interactions. Therapists help couples identify their respective roles in the pursuit-withdrawal cycle and work collaboratively to interrupt negative patterns and foster more secure attachment bonds. By creating a safe and supportive therapeutic environment, couples can explore and express their emotions more openly, learn to communicate effectively, and develop healthier patterns of interaction that promote greater intimacy and connection in their relationship.

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The Gottman Method

The Gottman Method focuses on building trust and commitment in relationships. It’s designed to help couples experiencing marital conflicts by helping resolve poor communication, emotional distance, conflict, and other specific problems such as financial or sexual difficulties. Goals for couples include addressing and reducing conflict, and increasing intimacy, closeness, respect, and affection. The Gottman Method utilizes an assessment for couples to help them understand what might be happening in their relationship. 

Couples’ therapy using The Gottman Method generally takes anywhere from 9-16 sessions. This includes intake, assessment review, and treatment. Therapy may take longer if any betrayals or affairs have occurred in the relationship.

It is recommended that couples’ therapy sessions be held weekly and last for 90 minutes to allow enough time for couples to work through issues, reflect on understanding, and practice the new principles learned during the session. Once a couple masters the Gottman principles, sessions can be reduced to 60-minute sessions and spaced out.


Prepare/Enrich is a scientifically proven method for both premarital and couples therapy. Couples who complete premarital counseling through the Prepare/Enrich method can work out minor, but important issues, before they turn into major problems. Your therapist will walk with you and your partner through a series of sessions guided by your personalized assessment. You will dive into topics that can cause stress and come out having developed the tools needed to navigate difficult conversations. 


Begin Therapy for couples + dyads in the Nashville area

Willow Counseling offers tailored therapy services for couples and dyads. Sessions are held weekly or biweekly and last 45 or 60 minutes. Contact our counseling office or call 615-235-3508 to schedule a free 30 minute consultation.

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Schedule a free 30-minute consultation to see if therapy with Willow Counseling is right for you.

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Begin individual therapy at Willow Counseling. Schedule an appointment to meet with one of our compassionate counselors.

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Ready to stop walking this road alone? Explore our Group Therapy options to connect with others in your healing journey.

Other therapeutic services offered at Willow Counseling

Willow Counseling offers a variety of therapeutic services to help you on your road to healing & better mental health. Some of our other counseling services include counseling for trauma and EMDR therapy, therapy for compassion fatigue, and group counseling services for anxiety and compassion fatigue.  If you are ready to find healing and live in the Nashville area, our therapists are here to help!