Probably the most important couple counseling technique any counselor can use is empathy, the ability to sense and understand what each person is experiencing and feeling throughout the relationship. Without empathy a coach will be distant, the opposite of what is required to gain a person’s, or a couple’s, trust. With trust a couple will find themselves sharing both their darkest secrets and deepest needs, thus giving the counselor the most relevant information needed to best guide them forward.
Maybe the second most important couples counseling technique is the ability to read beyond a couple’s “story,” to decipher those things that are truly relevant and the root cause of their difficulties. Couples have a sense of their problems, but are often blind to their own failures and sometimes fail to see hidden motivations that greatly impact a relationship.
The third most important tool is a willingness to be firm and direct while maintaining compassion and consideration. Knowing that a coach isn’t a 90lb weakling strongly reinforces a persons confidence in him. At the same time, knowing he cares and is considerate makes it easier to deal with painful factors, rather than avoid them.
Motivation and encouragment are indispensable in counseling couples. A good coach works dilligently to create hope and a clear direction for couples to achieve their goals and overcome obstacles. A calm and peaceful demeanor, blended with humor when appropriate, are essential backdrops that make it easier for a couple to cope with serious hardships brought to the surface in a marriage counseling session.
Dozens of other techniques are important, including knowing the most opportune times to deal with certain issues, warning clients of potential dangers, sharing one’s own personal experiences, and being humble enough to acknowledge mistakes.