top of page

Can couples therapy help a toxic relationship?

A disconnection from self is often the core issue underlying high-conflict relationships.


In high-conflict relationships, the core issue often revolves around a profound disconnection from self. Individuals involved in such dynamics tend to lose touch with their own emotions, needs, and authentic selves as they become entangled in the intense interpersonal turmoil. This disconnection can manifest in various ways, such as a lack of self-awareness, compromised emotional regulation, and an inability to assert personal boundaries. As individuals prioritize the conflict over self-reflection, the relationship becomes a battleground where personal growth and understanding take a backseat. Reestablishing a connection with oneself becomes crucial for breaking the cycle of conflict, fostering emotional intelligence, and creating the possibility for healthier interactions within the relationship.


Couples therapy for high-conflict couples starts with each partner learning how to speak to their own individual experience.

Couples therapy that prioritizes each partner's reconnection with self as a foundational step is a therapeutic approach aimed at fostering individual growth within the context of the relationship. In this process, the therapist guides individuals to explore their own emotions, desires, and values independently, creating a space for self-reflection and self-discovery. Through targeted interventions, couples are encouraged to communicate openly about their needs and aspirations, allowing each partner to regain a sense of personal identity and agency. This emphasis on individual reconnection serves as a crucial first step in rebuilding the foundation of the relationship, as it enables couples to bring a more authentic and self-aware self into the shared space, fostering mutual understanding, empathy, and a more resilient connection between partners.


Partners often feel hesitant to focus on themselves in couples therapy because they see the problem as existing within the other person.

Partners in couples therapy may initially experience resistance to reconnecting with self as the first step due to a variety of factors. Often, individuals may fear the vulnerability that comes with introspection and self-exploration, worrying that confronting personal needs and emotions may lead to discomfort or conflict within the relationship. Additionally, there might be ingrained patterns of prioritizing the partnership over individual well-being, making the idea of focusing on oneself seem counterintuitive or even selfish. Furthermore, societal expectations and cultural norms emphasizing the unity of a couple may contribute to the reluctance to assert individual identity. Overcoming this resistance requires a supportive therapeutic environment that validates the importance of individual self-discovery within the context of the relationship, ultimately paving the way for deeper emotional intimacy and a more resilient partnership.


Couples who trust the process and engage wholeheartedly will often experience the feeling of having a strong foundation for their relationship for the first time.

In couples therapy, a skilled therapist plays a pivotal role in supporting partners to reconnect with themselves. The therapist creates a safe and non-judgmental space where individuals can express their thoughts, feelings, and desires openly. Through active listening and empathetic understanding, the therapist helps each partner explore their own internal landscape, encouraging self-reflection and self-awareness. Therapeutic interventions, such as guided exercises and open-ended questions, prompt individuals to delve into their personal experiences, values, and aspirations. The therapist also assists in identifying and challenging any limiting beliefs or communication patterns that hinder individual self-connection. By fostering a sense of autonomy and empowering partners to prioritize their own well-being, the therapist contributes to the process of rebuilding a stronger, more authentic foundation for the relationship, promoting emotional growth, and enhancing the overall quality of the partnership.


Couples therapy naturally evolves into a deeper and more transformative experience.

As each partner learns to reconnect with themselves in couples therapy, the therapeutic process naturally evolves into a deeper and more transformative experience. With a foundation of individual self-awareness established, the couple can engage in a more profound exploration of their shared dynamics. The therapist facilitates open and honest communication, guiding partners to express their newfound self-awareness within the context of the relationship. This phase often involves collaboratively addressing unresolved issues, fostering empathy, and developing shared goals. As the couple integrates individual growth into their shared journey, they build a stronger emotional connection based on authenticity and mutual understanding. The evolving process deepens emotional intimacy, encourages ongoing personal development, and cultivates a resilient and harmonious partnership that extends beyond the therapeutic setting.


High-conflict relationships offer a significant opportunity for personal growth and transformation.


High-conflict relationships, despite their challenges, present a significant opportunity for personal growth and transformation. The intense nature of these relationships often acts as a catalyst for self-reflection and self-discovery. Individuals involved are compelled to confront their own patterns of behavior, communication styles, and emotional triggers. The process of navigating and resolving conflicts necessitates a deeper understanding of one's own needs and vulnerabilities. As individuals learn to manage their responses and cultivate emotional resilience, they embark on a journey of personal growth. The challenges within the relationship become a mirror reflecting aspects of themselves that require attention and development. Embracing this opportunity can lead to increased self-awareness, improved emotional intelligence, and the acquisition of valuable skills that extend beyond the relationship, ultimately fostering profound transformation and a more fulfilling, balanced life.

I support couples to work through and change the dynamics within a high conflict relationship. Read more about working with a Denver couples therapist. To schedule a free 20-minute consultation contact me.

denver couples therapist

About the Author

Diana Calvo is a Denver couples therapist. She provides professional support to couples in all stages of relationship and has experience working with the many difficult issues couples are faced with. Diana offers premarital counseling, couples therapy, discernment counseling, and divorce counseling services to Boulder, CO and Denver, CO. All gender identities, sexual orientations, and relationship styles are welcome.


bottom of page