Can Relationship Counselors Help You And Your Partner?
Updated November 26, 2019
Reviewer Karen Devlin, LPC
If your relationship is struggling, it might be a good idea to see a counselor. The uncertainty of whether you need counseling is a common feeling. By understanding what relationship counselors do, when and how they help, and what you might expect, you will have more information to make an educated decision. Becoming educated on a topic is the best way to make the most qualified decision for you and your relationship.
To discover if a relationship counselor can help you and your partner, you must first understand what relationship counselors do. Then, you can better grasp how one might help you and what you might expect. Only then can you determine if counseling will help your relationship.
What Relationship Counselors Do
In short, a relationship counselor, or marriage and family therapist, assists in identifying problems and how to solve them. They act as a buffer, mediator, or voice of reason when things get emotional and too difficult. The counselor's job is to untangle the feelings of hurt, betrayal, and other issues to find the true cause of the issue at hand. When that cause has been found, trying to resolve it is the next logical step.
However, a relationship counselor is not able to do all the work on his or her own. If a couple wants to save their relationship, they must put in a real effort. Unfortunately, a lot of couples seek counseling to assuage the guilt of splitting up. The decision had already been made to call it quits, but in the age of divorce, it feels better to say you tried counseling.
Individual involvement may include more work than you initially expected. The counselor will likely assign homework and other activities to get both parties of the relationship engaged. The guidance that a therapist or professional offers, in addition to getting the individuals in the relationship to participate, is the biggest part of his or her job.
When a couple comes to a counselor for help in their relationship, the first session will likely be the one in which the counselor simply listens. If the couple does not speak, the professional will probably allow the session to pass by in total silence. Other couples might yell at one another. Not only will this give your counselor insight into your interactions or the state of your relationship, but it will allow the professional to teach the couple how to manage their feelings without getting toxic. This begins the helpful aspect of couples counseling.
How Relationship Counselors Help
You know what relationship counselors do, but what exactly does having a professional present do to help? If having a third party there to not only witness but analyze your arguments and personal faults make you feel awkward, you're probably right in feeling that way. In many cases, it takes a few sessions for the couple to open up to the stranger in the room. Once the talking starts, a good counselor can identify specific statements and tones used to figure out the issues that need addressing.
The past version of couples counseling was used to help each party of the relationship develops the skills necessary to succeed in a relationship. Although this method makes sense in theory, it had only a 50% success rate. Some skills that a counselor might assist in improving are listening, friendship building, and seeing things from their partner's side of things. While these are all important skills to apply to your relationship, there are additional aspects of counseling that are more effective in solving the problems within a relationship. The most utilized and effective treatment method is called EFT.
EFT, or Emotionally Focused Therapy, is a method that works on a variety of subjects. When it comes to couples counseling, EFT is used to emphasize the emotional response to the situation. In its most basic terms, EFT aims to make patients more conscious of their internalized emotions.
When using EFT, couples are required to open up emotionally. A counselor is typically skilled in developing a safe space in which clients feel secure in sharing what is on their mind. Without the safety of a private office, clients might experience more trouble in expressing their true emotions. Often, translating feelings from sessions to the real world is more difficult when the counseling is not a safe place.
In counseling or therapy, a safe space is both externally and internally. It is necessary for counselors to enforce safety in the office and encourage it internally. You might wonder how safety can be encouraged internally, but this is best achieved by making the physical safety within the confines of the office a priority. From there, professionals are required to use psychology and breathing techniques to relax.
Relationship counselors can likely help your relationship if given a chance. Between the skills necessary of a counselor and some effort from both halves of the relationship, success has a good chance. There are a few expectations that should be clear before going into a counseling session, however.
What To Expect
As a couple seeking outside assistance, it is important to find the right professional for you. Often a degree can make people feel as though they are qualified in all matters surrounding the degree. This means that a counselor skilled in addiction might think that he or she can translate those skills to relationship counseling, but in reality, it requires a different process.
Finding the right counselor starts with research. Ask a friend that has gone through couples counseling, scour the internet for comments and ratings, and use the first session or two as a trial run just because you go to one professional once or twice does not mean that you have to stick with that certain provider. Don't gamble your relationship with an unqualified therapist or counselor.
A phone call to potential counselors will give you and your partner a chance to determine if it would be a good match. The therapist will commonly share methods of treatment, and what you might expect if you were to choose to see them. If the call goes well, you might then attend a session or two to help decide to keep seeing the same provider or choose someone different.
There is a possibility that you or your partner will enjoy the counseling session a bit too much. Some people feel so relaxed and emotionally supported that they feel no need to better themselves in the real world. This will leave you in counseling indefinitely. Remember that improving for everyday life is key.
Knowing what to expect from counseling with your significant other can help to shake off the anxiety. While it is impossible to know exactly what will happen, going into the experience with information is helpful. Having all of the information beforehand can help to determine if counseling will help your relationship.
Will Counseling Help Your Relationship?
Consider a checklist of counseling appropriate issues. If you can check any of the following items from the list, it is likely that counseling can help you and your relationship. On the other hand, if none of the below items resound with your relationship, counseling does not generally harm a couple.
Firstly, if you or your significant other want counseling, there is likely a reason. If for whatever reason, your counselor determines the therapy unnecessary or only needed for a few sessions, you know that everything can be worked out.
Second, if you regularly have communication problems, learning how to effectively talk to one another is something that can be learned in couples counseling. Communication problems can include simply not communicating, not discussing relationship issues, or failing to listen to the concerns of your partner.
Another common problem worked on in therapy is the event of an affair or thoughts of having an affair. An affair brought into the confines of a relationship is a breach of trust that is hard to recover from. With the help of a therapist, counseling can start to rebuild that trust.
Counseling can also assist in resolving recurring problems. If you and your significant other experience the same problems, arguments, and major differences of opinion, relationship counseling is a good option that can make a positive impact on the individuals and the couple.
If your relationship has these problems or ones similar, counseling can be a help. However, simply seeing a counselor or therapist isn't enough to fix your problems. You and your partner must seriously commit to making a change. Listening to the guidance and advice of the counselor and applying it to your situation will help.
As long as you and your partner seek counseling assistance as soon as possible, counseling can help your relationship. A variety of problems can be solved with a bit of effort, guidance, and patience. If seeking help saves your relationship, the effort put forth is well worth it.