Therapy For You, the NHS Talking Therapies service for patients across North East and South East Essex, supports couples whose relationships have been affected by struggles with depression through their pioneering, evidence-based model approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).
Through the delivery of this service, Therapy For You is helping couples better manage the challenges that mild to moderate depression can present and overcome problems impacting their relationship.
Although recent data suggests that the number of people experiencing depression in the UK has fallen year-on-year, figures remain high compared to pre-pandemic levels.
As well as affecting millions of individuals, depression can be a significant obstacle for couples. Research shows that people in troubled relationships are at least twice as likely to suffer from depression as people in stable relationships.
“When one or both parties in a relationship are dealing with depression, it can put a strain on that couple, leading to issues such as a lack of communication, a reduced interest in intimacy or sex, or a feeling of increased distance between the two,” says Jane Barham, high-intensity Cognitive Behavioural Therapist and Couple Therapy for Depression (CTfD) therapist at Therapy For You.
“Managing depression can be hard for any relationship, and when one or both parties are struggling to cope, it can chip away at their foundation and cause conflicts that maintain their low mood.”
To help people improve their wellbeing and relationships, Therapy for You’s Couple Therapy for Depression is a progressive, evidence-based therapy that has helped many tackle their difficulties.
Aimed towards cohabiting couples where one or both are struggling with a low mood maintained by problems in the relationship, Couple Therapy for Depression helps both parties understand their feelings and improve their situation.
“While Couple Therapy for Depression shares similarities with couple counselling, this is a service specifically for relationships where one or both are experiencing challenges related to mild or moderate depression,” explains Laura Cocks, psychotherapist and service manager at Therapy For You.
“To ensure Couple Therapy for Depression is as effective as possible, couples should ideally be living together and be ready, willing and able to practise the techniques they learn outside of weekly sessions in their day-to-day life.”
Once a couple refers to the service, Therapy For You starts by arranging a confidential telephone assessment with both individuals. This important first step allows their therapists to understand the thoughts and feelings of a couple.
From here, one-on-one sessions enable practitioners to assess their experiences, challenges and goals. In the following interventions, couples will improve their acceptance of how they perceive their partners’ circumstances, differences and needs.
“Whether it is arguments over money, parenting, or daily responsibilities, these sessions aim to promote positive behaviours that strengthen the awareness and understanding of a couple,” says Jane.
The next series of treatment centres on making meaningful improvements based on the goals outlined at the start. Therapy For You says this could include exercises for improving communication, teamwork, or intimacy.
“As well as teaching partners how to improve their wellbeing and relationship, Couple Therapy for Depression encourages people to put what they learn into practice outside of their sessions. In many ways, this is where the real therapy happens,” continues Jane.
During the final few sessions, the treatment concentrates on relapse prevention. Here, Therapy For You’s practitioners reinforce the lessons, skills and techniques a couple has learned to prevent them from falling back into old habits.
According to Therapy For You, Couple Therapy for Depression has already had a meaningful impact on numerous relationships in their local communities.
A NICE-approved and evidence-based treatment, nationally, around 56% of people who complete CTfD recover from their depression and anxiety – a greater rate of recovery than alternative treatments such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and counselling.
Research also suggests that 30% of severe depressive episodes can be prevented if a couple’s relationship improves. Therapy For You emphasises how valuable this service can be for couples struggling to cope.
“We’re here to support anyone committed to rebuilding their relationship from the impact of depression,” adds Jane.
“Whether a couple wants to improve communication, become more aware of each other’s needs, or work on their intimacy, we are fully committed to helping them achieve their goals and restoring their foundation for the future.”