Relationship therapists are usually considered the “final step” for many individuals who have found their once happy partnership now filled with nothing but fighting, discord and a sense of disconnect. There are many reasons why couples seek counseling, including infidelity, constant disagreement, communication issues and more.
There are many different emotions that underscore a couple’s problems, many of which occur simultaneously. Someone can be as equally saddened and heartbroken as they are angry and disappointed, which is why it is important to be able to communicate these complex combinations of emotions with each other.
People who seek couples counseling care about their relationship and want to resolve any issues they’re facing, but they don’t know where to begin or how to recover.
No matter what your reason for seeking couples counseling may be, the decision to reach out and get help is commendable. From the start, it demonstrates the commitment each partner has to the other.
The situation may not be ideal, or may even seem to be at its worst, but speaking with a couples counselor can often help shed light on the underlying cause of the problems in the relationship. Couples counseling can help provide new insight, valuable perspective and practical advice that can help rebuild trust and facilitate communication.
“Getting better” means different things for different people. There are many different treatment options for PTSD. For many people, these treatments can get rid of symptoms altogether. Others find they have fewer symptoms or feel that their symptoms are less intense. Your symptoms don’t have to interfere with your everyday activities, work, and relationships.
What is involved during couples counseling?
The approach to couples therapy will vary among counselors and between couples. Everyone has their own unique problems and communicative styles.
A lot of different factors come into play when treating a couple, but the fundamental principles of couple therapy are geared toward opening communication, being honest, accepting emotions and collaborating to come up with positive solutions.
At first, it might be difficult to talk about your most private relationship problems in front of a counselor. However, your counselor can act as a mediator to help you accurately express your feelings to one another. If your partner refuses to seek counseling, you can still attend by yourself. It may be more difficult to mend a relationship, but you can focus on learning more about your own reactions and emotions. Counselors may also send you home with communication exercises to do at home that can help you practice what you have learned.
When should couples seek therapy?
There are many reasons a couple may choose to see a therapist. When fighting becomes more frequent and couples lack the ability to communicate respectfully, or when a relationship has deteriorated and each person feels disconnected, a therapist can help.
There are many external stressors that can negatively impact a relationship. These can include infidelity, career changes, the birth or adoption of a child, substance abuse, infertility, and mental illness.
Can unmarried couples still go to couples therapy?
Yes. Counselors offer couples therapy to anyone in a relationship. Short and long-term partners may wish to seek the advice and insight of a professional during a difficult period in their relationship. If you are engaged or planning on getting engaged, going to couples therapy may lower your risk of divorce after marriage.
What to expect before couples counseling
The first several sessions of couples therapy focus on understanding the nature of a relationship, its current problems, and its strengths and weaknesses. Each partner brings something different to the table, and many people who feel that they are unable to express themselves openly with a partner find that it’s easier to reveal their true feelings in the presence of a neutral mediator.
A couples counselor will ask questions about the following:
- Each partner’s current feelings toward the relationship
- The biggest problems or concerns
- Common causes of arguments and sources of tension
- Behavioral and communicative styles
- The current power dynamic
- Essential qualities that are missing
Working with a couples counselor doesn’t guarantee every problem can be solved, but it is the best way to gain the clarity necessary to move forward. A couples counselor is an excellent figure that can help guide a couple to make the best decisions for themselves.
If you’re part of a couple in distress, you may feel that there’s no way out of your troubled relationship. Here is how couples therapy can help you.
- Changes the views of the relationship. Throughout the therapeutic process, the therapist attempts to help both partners see the relationship in a more objective manner. They learn to stop the “blame game” and instead look at what happens to them as a process involving each partner. Therapists begin this process by collecting “data” on the interaction between the partners by watching how they interact. Therapists then formulate “hypotheses” about what causal factors may be in play to lead to the way the couples interact. Different therapists will use different strategies, but if they focus on altering the way the relationship is understood, the couple can start to see each other, and their interactions, in more adaptive ways.
- Modifies dysfunctional behavior. Effective couple’s therapists attempt to change the way that the partners behave with each other. This means that in addition to helping them improve their interactions, therapists also need to ensure that their clients are not engaging in actions that can cause physical, psychological, or economic harm.
- Decreases emotional avoidance. Couples who avoid expressing their private feelings put themselves at greater risk of becoming emotionally distant and grow apart. Effective couple’s therapists help their clients bring out the emotions and thoughts that they fear expressing to the other person. Couples therapy allows the partners to feel less afraid of expressing their needs for closeness.
- Improves communication. All effective couple’s therapies focus on helping the partners to communicate more effectively. Couples might require some coaching to learn how to speak to each other in more supportive and understanding ways. The therapist may also provide the couple the with the basis for knowing what types of communication effective and what types will only cause more conflict. They can learn how to listen and communicate more actively and empathetically.
- Promotes strengths. Effective couple’s therapists point out the strengths in the relationship and help build resilience. Because so much of couple’s therapy involves focusing on problem areas, it’s easy to lose sight of the other areas in which couple’s function effectively. The point of promoting strength is to help the couple derive more enjoyment out of their relationship.