Having trained at the Relate Institute, my approach combines systemic and psychodynamic therapy.
The systemic approach looks at the wider context of our lives and asks questions such as how our family of origin has influenced our beliefs, attitudes and ways of communicating. It looks at how changes in our lives affect us as we grow older, for example becoming parents, or our children growing up or our health and well-being changing over time. Perhaps it is a breakdown in a relationship that we have never had to deal with before, or the death of a close member of the family or friend. Whilst we develop ways of coping which can work well in many contexts, when we are faced with major changes these tried and trusted ways can be less effective. Therapy can help us find new ways of dealing with problems and difficulties.
One way of thinking about the difference between the systemic and psychodynamic approaches is to think of the former looking at what is going on 'outside' and the latter focusing on the 'inside', though of course each affects the other. The psychodynamic approach to couples' therapy is interested in the models of relationships we bring to our current relationship, and how these can lead to clashes and conflict. Some of this is in our awareness, but therapy can help us become more aware of things we may not notice we're doing which nevertheless exert a powerful influence on our behaviour.
Neither approach is 'better' than the other and it is only through a process of developing a safe and trusting relationship with your therapist that you will learn which approach helps you the most.