What is RLT?

RLT is a model of couple counseling based on the experience and research of Terrence Real. He considers the model a method to practice intimacy in relationship.

Isn't intimacy just a female thing?

According to all the research on infant and adult attachment, no. As Real (2002) states, we are all active participants in intimacy when we are born. We are designed for and crave intimacy with others. A way to consider intimacy is to see it as a state of wholeness. This state includes the personal attributes of compassion, connectedness, authenticity and openness. There have been many studies that show that rich, intimate connections increase our overall health and recovery rates when we do become ill. So, once again the answer is, no this is not just a female thing.

Why is intimacy such a big deal now?

A partner is often wondering why it is that their mate is suddenly upset with the relationship. Many authors, including Real (2002), believe part of the reason stems from historical events. As the women's movement took place, it meant that women were reclaiming a part of their wholeness. They were becoming more assertive and strong. Whether you, as a woman, were a part of that movement at the time or not, the ripples of the effect of that time mean that women are now looking for partners that will step up to the “emotional” plate. A place this might impact even more intensely is if the partner is male. According to Real (2002) and other authors, men have not done the work to claim their wholeness and learn the skills of being relational. They still expect that the relationship will work the same way it did in their family, and they can stay disconnected and unemotional. In general, most authors believe that this will not be acceptable in present day relationships. Women are looking for vulnerability, expressiveness and relationality. Regardless of who you are, it is not “unmanly to listen to your partner and give them more of what they want” (Real, 2002).

So what does it take?

According to the Relational Life Model, it takes learning several skills. Additionally, it is understanding that relationships go through cycles of harmony, disharmony and repair if they are to stay alive and dynamic. In general, most relationships don't know the skills of how to do the repair and so there is just an ever increasing sense of disharmony and dissatisfaction. As a result of the lack of skills to create repair, most relationships end up in an ongoing cycle of control, revenge and ultimately resignation. Once in the resignation state, the relationship is headed for disaster if new skills and interventions are not learned and practiced.


Terrence Real developed the RLT model. He has two outstanding books available that describe the impact of society, models we have had for relationship, and what we need to interact in relationship today. His books speak directly to heterosexual relationships and are: How Can I Get Through to You, I Don't Want To Talk About It and The New Rules of Marriage.

In RLT you will both experience a new way to look at communication, sources of problems and ways to negotiate and resolve difficulties. If you've been in couple counseling previously, you will find this model to be significantly different. RLT recognizes that because of our societal rules for boys and girls, men have not been given any skills for relating in a relational manner. Women have not been taught how to have an effective voice. These are the skills you will learn in RLT, as well as a way to look at the pattern that has not been working for thus far.

In this model, all couple sessions are a minimum of two hours. Eventually, we might cut that back to 1 and 1/2 hours, but for the greatest impact on your relationship, the two hour time slot is necessary.

Source: Real, T. (2002). Relationship Turnaround: Empowering women connecting men. Relational Life Institute.com


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