Relationship issues are patterns of interaction between people that affect their lives in a potentially negative way—especially when the relationships involve significant partners or family members. Relationship issues can result in a number of mental health issues and can contribute to symptoms of depression, anxiety, and panic. They can also affect daily functioning and can cause issues with concentration, memory, physical health, and sleep. In some cases, these issues can result in risky behaviors such as substance use and sexual impulsivity. In other cases, conflicts between two people can even result in abuse or neglect. Relationship issues can be the main reason that individuals seek help, or they can be a consequence of other issues (health, stress, work, money, etc.). However, CBT for relationship issues is very effective.

What Treatments Are Available?

Fortunately, there are a number of ways to treat relationship issues. Treatment can involve helping people understand and modify the thoughts and beliefs that affect their relationships, through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT can also help people change some of the behaviors that contribute to or result from relationship issues, as well as change how they communicate with each other.

Another way to deal with relationship issues is to help people manage their emotions better, through Emotion Regulation skills. Relationship issues often involve a confusing or overwhelming number of different emotions, including anger, sadness, jealousy, loneliness, and guilt. Emotion Regulation can give people tools to deal with their emotions in a more helpful way, rather than engage in risky behaviors that could add to one’s distress.

Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) can teach one to acknowledge the pain involved in difficult relationships without undue harsh judgment of oneself or others. This can be a useful skill to have when other techniques seem ineffective.

CBASP helps people to confront any fears about relationships that they might be have, due to hurtful interactions they may have experienced in the past. It teaches people how to analyze situations and recognize the cause-effect-relationships involved in all interpersonal interactions.

Finally dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) can help people who might be going through relationship crises how to tolerate their distress to make it through their difficult situations. It can also teach people to ask their relationship partners for what they need emotionally.