We couples therapists are at our best when we take a binocular view of you as a couple during therapy. We need to look for your principles, beliefs and agreements, making sure that you are on the same page for how you think about your relationship. You should agree on its purposes and policies for how to handle the complexities of living with another person.
That's one lens. Through the other lens we look at how partners come pre-wired for certain kinds of difficulties in managing their relational lives. Such pre-wiring has two major sources. First, as a species we have evolved primitive protective neurological wiring to keep us alive. This is the defensive inheritance of all of us, without exception. Second, our particular experiences in prior relationships, especially growing up, may have resulted in over-reliance on particular strategies for protection.
The combination of these two lenses–top down principles, values and beliefs, and bottom up brain & body wiring–guides our work. When we observe how you interact with each other, we can discern your capacities as a couple and intervene directly with new ideas, information and tactics for you. In my experience, psychobiologically-trained couples therapists like myself have the most thorough training in the top-down/bottom-up binocular vision necessary for efficient and revolutionary couples work.
For more details on a psychobiological approach, see my review of Stan Tatkin's book We Do: Saying Yes to a Relationship of Depth. You can read it at the New England Association for Systemic and Relationship Therapy through the link below. Note that it is written for a specialist (therapist) audience, but it is still accessible for those looking for a sense of how the most recent, cutting edge couples therapy works.
Alternatively, read a few of the other blog entries here, all inspired by a psychobiological approach. They are written for therapists, like the review above, but with some persistence non-specialists may find in them a seed for working differently with your partner.