Dr. Vijay Nagaswami completed his M.B.B.S. degree from the Madras Medical College in 1980, and underwent post-graduate training in Psychiatry (Diplomate in Psychological Medicine) from the same college. After having qualified as a psychiatrist in 1984, he served the Schizophrenia Research Foundation (India) in various capacities and eventually as Deputy Director till 1991. He was as a consultant to the World Health Organisation and the International Labour Organisation during this period. Between 1991 and 1997 he moved to the corporate world and headed the HR function for a Chennai-based public limited company.

Since 1997, he has concentrated his energies on Individual, Couple & Corporate Psychotherapy. He has written five books. His first book, ‘Courtship and Marriage: a guide for Indian couples’ published by Penguin was a best seller. In January 2004, his second book titled “The Splintered Mind: Understanding Schizophrenia” was launched at Chennai. His third book, titled ‘The 24x7 Marriage’ appeared in 2008 and is currently on its fifth print run. His next best-selling book, ‘The Fifty-50 Marriage: Return to Intimacy’ was launched in June 2010. His fifth book, ‘3’s a crowd: Understanding and Surviving Marital Infidelity’ was launched in December 2011. He is a columnist for The Hindu and also conducts workshops and seminars for business corporations as well as individuals and couples on marriage and personal relationships management.

He works out of Chennai, but does travel around the country for training other mental health professionals in Couple Therapy and for the Connect Right Programmes he conducts. His wife Usha, a translator by profession, and he have been happily married for twenty five years. They have no children. They have successfully dealt with several issues over the years and this has formed the basis for his work with couples in monogamous relationships. Dr Nagaswami offers psychotherapy for both individuals and couples. If you’d like to know more, read on:


There are as many approaches to Couple Therapy as there are couples, but the one that works best is the one that helps couples understand the dynamics that are operating without their knowledge in their relationship and helps them reconfigure it in a manner that both can get the best out of each other, instead of pushing each others’ wrong buttons, which most of us are very good at. Couples who look to enhance their relationships get much more out of Couple Therapy than those who are looking only to fix a specific problem.

Traditionally, the practice of Couple Therapy varies depending on the ‘school of Couple Therapy’ the therapist is affiliated to. There is the Psychodynamic School which traces all conflicts in the marriage back to childhood and tries to rectify these. There is the Systemic School which treats marriage as a living system and attempts to arrive at mechanistic and systemic solutions to fix its component parts. There is the Cognitive Behavioural School that sees marital issues as being products of ‘faulty cognitions’ or inaccurate thoughts and focuses on getting both partners to change their negative cognitions of each other. Then there is the Attachment School that believes that the bond between the couple is the most important aspect of the relationship and attempts to strengthen this. There is also the Emotionally Focussed School that works with the emotions experienced by both partners in an attempt to modulate and moderate the relationship.

Dr Nagaswami’s approach to Couple Therapy does not confine him to any of these schools but tries to get the best out of each in order to facilitate what he has described as the four Cs of marriage: commitment, connectedness, communication and companionship. He helps couples work on the following areas:

- Moderating expectations
- Understanding marriage templates and creating a final marriage template
- Defining ‘I’ and ‘We’ spaces in the relationship
- Moving from ‘Me & My Family Vs You & Your Family’ to ‘We and our Families’
- Control Games
- Fighting Smart
- Smart Communication Basics
- Enhancing Intimacy
- Balancing other life spaces (family, friends & work) with the marriage space

The couples who seek his intervention are essentially ‘normal couples’ with ‘normal marriage issues’ for which they are hard pressed to find solutions, since their marriages are so different from that of their parents. Some couples, of course, by virtue of carrying unresolved conflicts for too long, have a lot of toxicity in their marriages. Typically, Couple Therapy would last a few weeks over ten to sixteen one-hour sessions. Starting with a first combined session to understand and assess the issues involved, therapy will involve a few independent sessions with each partner and a few more combined sessions thereafter. The therapeutic process involves talking, understanding, resolving and moving on.

Most people think that psychotherapy is a form of treatment for people with severely disturbed minds. That perhaps was the case when psychotherapy was founded in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. However, today psychotherapy and counselling are much broader in their scope and really refer to helping people find a way out of any bottleneck that their lives place in their path. By understanding oneself better, one can learn to find the most appropriate solutions. Psychotherapy helps one arrive at this understanding through a process of talking about, interpreting and obtaining insights into one’s maladaptive behaviours. The process can take up to six months of weekly sessions, but those who go through this usually find themselves much more empowered to deal with the ups and downs of their lives.

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