In this article, I discuss how you can benefit from the bidirectional relationship between individual and relationship well-being.
In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, I encounter both individuals and couples as clients. Individuals typically have the goal of addressing an individual issue to improve their emotional well-being and I teach them skills from cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to help them in this endeavour. Couples usually have goals to improve their relationship well-being in various ways. To this end, I typically give them skills from Dr. John Gottman’s sound relationship house model to help them improve their relationship friendship and learn skills to discuss issues more constructively.
When working on either yourself in individual therapy or on your relationship in couples counselling, an additional benefit you derive is that individual therapy has a positive impact on your relationships and relationship counselling improves your individual well-being. These bonus effects occur because of the bidirectional relationship between individual and relationship well-being. In the following sections, I will describe how you can take advantage of this bidirectional relationship in exploring additional avenues of improvement for you and your relationships.
How working on yourself can improve your relationships
Individual issues such as depression, anxiety and addictions along with stress and anger management not only negatively affect the person dealing with them, they also have a negative impact on that person’s relationships. For example, a person struggling with these issues will likely find it more difficult to discuss issues constructively with their relationship partner. It is also likely that these issues will detract from the person’s motivation to spend quality time with their partner and, if the partners do connect in this way, the individual’s issues are likely to impact negatively on both they and their partner’s enjoyment of their time together.
The good news is that if the person applies skills to address their individual issues it should not only lead them to feel better, it should also have a positive effect on their relationship. It does so by making it easier for the person to communicate constructively with their partner as well as by facilitating more quality time between them and their partner as a result of their improved individual well-being.
How working on your relationships can improve your individual well-being
Relationship difficulties not only impact negatively on how the two people in the relationship enjoy each other and the relationship, they can also lead to negative effects on each person by afflicting them with one or more issues such as those I mentioned earlier in this article (depression, anxiety and addictions along with stress and anger management).
On the bright side, if the person addresses relationship issues with their partner in couples counselling they will likely see a significant improvement in their ability to address their individual issues and a concomitant turn for the better in their individual well-being.
The take-home message from this article: Approach your issues from more than one angle for the best results.
May you and your relationships benefit from the work you do on both,