Is Couple's Therapy Right For Your Relationship?
Relationships consist of two individuals working together to maintain and celebrate their love, companionship, and the life that they built together. For some couples experiencing hardships, deciding when to seek outside help may be unclear. The main rule of a successful relationship is to seek counseling or outside help as soon as a problem arises. In fact, most couples who wait too long to seek help often end up failing to reconcile their relationship. But the question for many remains, when is the right time, and how does a couple know when it might be too late? Certain indicators in a relationship may determine you and your partner when couple's therapy should be sought out. This article will dive further into this topic to provide you with more insight into when it is necessary to seek out relationship therapy for you and your significant other.
First, When Is It Not Necessary To Seek Out The Assistance Of A Counselor?
Before we start looking at signs that relationship counseling is vital, the most important question to ask is, is it necessary for my partner and me to seek out the help of a counselor? Generally, relationship therapy can be a beneficial tool for any couple as it allows you to grow and learn as your relationship does. It can also be an extremely useful tool to ensure that no issues are left unsolved during major life changes. However, if you're a couple that doesn't have any major issues or knows how to address and resolve issues, it most likely isn't necessary for you to seek counseling.
With this in mind, not all couples know how to address and resolve issues successfully. This brings us to our next section…
Signs That You Need To Attend Relationship Therapy
For the most part, it is easy to identify some of the signs that would lead you to attend couple's therapy sessions. If you have to ask, you are most likely belong to one of the couples who would benefit most. Here are some of the most distinctive and concerning relationship problems that indicate a need for therapy.
Couples who do not fight or disagree on something are a rarity (and may not be as healthy as you think). But when fights happen constantly, or one partner treats the other negatively, there is likely something else going on in the relationship. Couples therapy can help to resolve these underlying issues and help the pair to build healthy communication practices. It will be fairly obvious if you and your partner constantly fight are not receiving anything beneficial from the relationship.
If one partner in the relationship has somehow hurt their partner throughout the relationship, it cannot regain trust. For example, let's imagine that one partner has previously been unfaithful to the other, but this infidelity was a one-time event. Let's also imagine that their partner forgives them. Despite this forgiveness, there are still lingering doubts that have a huge impact on communication and trust. While the couple wants to move forward with their relationship, this lack of trust can be a serious detriment in the future. For those who choose to pursue therapy, a counselor will create an open discussion that can allow both partners to communicate freely about their past and present feelings and plans. By opening a channel for honest communication, couples are more likely to thrive and move forward if that is what both parties desire.
Avoidance is a common defense mechanism that many people use to avoid trouble, negativity, and conflict. If one partner is avoiding the other, it may be that they do not wish to fight or be harshly judged by their partner. Avoidance may be a last-ditch effort to save a relationship that is undergoing difficulties without addressing the problems head-on. It is difficult to maintain a relationship when partners skirt around issues or are not physically present for one another. Engaging in couple's therapy forces the partners to address each other directly and provides a safe space in which to do so. It will also give them valuable tools that they can use in the future to better communicate with each other and address their issues.
You See Your Partner As An Enemy (Or In A Different Light)
When a relationship first starts, you are most likely head over heels for your partner and have a great bond with them. Sometimes, this may change, and two people in a relationship may feel farther apart over time. They may even look at their partner as their enemy rather than someone who they love and trust. This can further ruin the relationship over time, and partners may feel more like roommates who live together and lead separate lives rather than two people committed to each other. If you're feeling as though you're drifting away from your partner, it can be helpful to go to therapy to regain that sense of togetherness and resolve your issues so that you can rediscover why you fell in love with them in the first place.
A Lack Of Compromise
Your significant other is known as your partner for a reason, and that is because you are working on the relationship together. Suppose one or both partners are unwilling to compromise and insist that the other needs to change; there will be an ongoing conflict that will grow as the relationship continues. Hopefully, therapy will shed some light on why both partners must seek to make sure they are both comfortable and provide you with tools to make that compromise a reality.
There's A Lack Of Appreciation, Consideration, And Excitement
The initial period during the beginning of a relationship is filled with passion and romance. Couples are very interested in each other and are not shy or slow to show each other how they feel. This type of excitement and passion doesn't have to leave the relationship over time, but it often does. As life gets busy, partners may not have the time or the energy to dedicate to each other as they did when they first met. This can grow into a lack of appreciation and consideration. Both partners don't think of each other as much and will grow comfortable just being together but won't treat each other as significant. Through therapy, a couple will recover that spark and show more appreciation and consideration towards their partner to reignite the relationship.
Signs Of Abuse
Many people believe that signs of abuse are easy to spot within a relationship. However, many types of abuse may not be easy to spot or may be easy to overlook because one of the partners believes it is normal. Beyond physical abuse, which uses violence to establish control and dominance, there are five other types of abuse, including…
- Identity Or Cultural Abuse- In a relationship where one individual has a certain cultural identity that differentiates the way they live from the common culture around them, abusers will often threaten their partner by saying that they will use their culture against them (i.e., threatening to tell an LGBT community member's family and friends that they are secretly gay) or will force them to not partake in their culture (which may come in the form restricting them from observing religious rights).
- Financial Abuse- Financial abuse can often be one of the worst types of abuse as it severely restricts a partner's ability to escape the relationship. Those who engage in financial abuse will completely control another's financed or may seek to ruin their ability to financially care for themselves by taking actions such as ruining their credit or preventing them from getting jobs.
- Psychological/Mental Abuse- Psychological or mental abuse occurs when an abuser pursues a series of actions that slowly chip away at their partner's mental wellbeing until they feel that no one will believe their partner controls them.
- Emotional And Verbal Abuse- Emotional and verbal abuse is a type of abuse that affects an individual's mental health. With verbal abuse, the abuser will break down their partner's self-confidence until they feel that the abuser is the only person who loves them. They will use these lies and statements to isolate the person who is being abused to exercise control over them.
- Sexual Abuse- The term sexual abuse often denotes rape or other forced sexual activity, and in some cases, this is true in an abusive relationship. However, sexual abuse can also include partners who withhold sex to punish their significant other for something they have said or done. As with the other forms of abuse, this is meant to control their partner and make it difficult to say no to them.
Do You Need Couples Therapy?
As you can see from the information above, there are plenty of reasons why a couple may need to seek help from a relationship counselor. If any of the previously mentioned indicators sound familiar, you and your partner may need to seek out a counselor. It's important to ensure that you do not delay because the relationship will slowly fall into a disrepair state. However, there is hope! A large number of licensed counselors who specifically work with couples can be found online. Online counseling gives couples the freedom to choose the right therapist for them and allows them to speak with someone that is not necessarily in their area. If you are still unsure whether you and your partner should seek counseling, speaking with a counselor online is easy. It will help clarify your situation and the necessary course of action.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Much Does Couples Therapy Cost?
Most times, you can not put a price on good living, but this time you can, with most therapists charging between $90 and $200 an hour. Considering that you will need many hours and many sessions in couples counseling, you are very likely to spend as much as $3000 on couples therapy. Couples therapy costs vary on factors like location, with places like Denver charging as high as $300 per hour, and bigger cities like San Francisco can charge as much as 100% more.
Another factor to consider when in your bid to find a therapist is the level of experience; this would ensure you and your partner get adequate care, but this would also rack up your couples therapy cost. Most insurance companies do not cover couples therapy, so you would end up paying out of your pocket. And even if your insurance company covers couples therapy, it is not advised that most companies request a diagnosis from your therapist, which ends up on your permanent health record. Also, insurance companies would control your session type and recommend a therapist, not allowing you to consult with your chosen therapist.
What Is The Success Rate Of Couples Therapy?
Couples counseling is ever-changing and a lot different from decades ago, with couples therapists having less than 50% success rate. A study showed that couples therapists in those days had short-lived fixes that only improved the couple's romantic relationship and friendship momentarily. The new habits learned during the course of therapy were discovered to be dropped as time passed and the old problems returned.
Instead of just focusing on the problems like it was before practiced, couples therapy today focuses more on how the actions make both parties feel using Emotionally focused therapy (EFT). The Gottman approach has seen the success rate rise to about 75%. The studies have included infertile couples, military couples, parents of chronically ill children, and veterans living with post-traumatic stress disorder, with the results remaining positive across different cultural castes.
The effectiveness is measured using a self-report questionnaire after the couples therapy. Couples therapy that yields fewer complaints and reduces stress/strain on the relationship is said to have brought about a positive outcome. And the couples in the 25% ‘failure’ group often find themselves there due to one or more reasons.
Abusive Relationships: People in abusive relationships are not likely to experience positive change in couples therapy. Couples therapy is for people experiencing strain in their relationship when it becomes physically or emotionally abusive; separate therapy is recommended to maintain safety and self-control.
Separating Couples: The goal of EFT is to strengthen bonds and connections, defeating the purpose of separation.
What Does A Couples Therapist Do?
A certified couples therapist is a pair of neutral ears and mouths that listens to one or more parties to understand the relationship and then uses their years of experience and expertise to advise on the many ways the problems can be solved. Couples therapists achieve positive results by giving couples counseling through one or more of the following ways.
Counseling Individuals And Couples: Depending on the situation, the therapist might deem it best to talk to both partners. The counselor would then listen to the complaints to decipher the cause of the problem, mediate conversations, and broker a deal between both parties that encourages peace going forward.
Provides A Neutral Ground: Most problems between a couple are difficult to resolve between the pair because of their communication's inadequacy. When tempers are high, or there is a strain, pride and ego might set in, making it difficult to have object conflict resolution. When a couples therapist is involved, they are unbiased and attend to the issues objectively. This allows the partners to open up, and cope with their emotions without being bullied or dominated.
Create Goals and A Timeline: After analyzing the problem, the next line of action would be to develop goals and a timeline for therapy. This is different for all couples; the goal might be to learn new relationship skills or teach yourself to fall in love again. The timeline would help you keep track of your progress as you go through the therapy sessions.
What Is The Best Therapy For Couples?
Before you find a therapist, before you can properly enjoy the benefits of couple therapy and couple counseling, you must first understand and internalize the different therapy types available for couples. Understanding the pros and cons of these couple therapy techniques would give you an idea of what to expect and which one would be best for your relationship.
The following are the couples therapy techniques:
Gottman Method: This an effective technique with more than three decades of research, buttressed with clinical practice with over three thousand couples. This method uses an approach to foster mutual respect between the couple. Couples being assessed with the Gotman method must fill out an assessment that takes almost two hours before meeting with the therapist. During the session, the therapist would continue to from mapping out the partners’ worries, hopes, and history together. This then allows the therapist to manage better and handle the situation, leading to conflict management and resolutions.
Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy: This technique was developed by Canadian psychologists Dr. Susan Johnson and Les Greenberg in the 1980s. This technique is so effective for counseling couples that it was adapted for family counseling as well. EFT is a short-term approach that aims to achieve three goals. It reorganizes and expands key emotional responses between couples; it looks to tighten the bond between partners and to enforce the feeling of safety in your partner. Although an all-rounder for resolving most relationship issues, it is especially effective when the cause of the relationship strain is depression.
Imago Relationship Therapy: This couple therapy style handshakes western psychological therapy techniques with behavioral and spiritual couples counseling techniques to light the underlying image we project to our significant other. Imago relationship therapy treats the conflict as the solution rather than the problem, allowing partners to uncover underlying issues in the relationship. This therapy type connects your formative childhood behaviors with the actions extended to your partner. An Imago therapist emphasizes listening; they encourage back and forth between the couple as they seek conflict resolution by talking out the proponents that led to the conflict.
Narrative Therapy: This form of therapy helps couples separate the issue from the person or the relationship. The therapist would ask the individual or the couple to narrate their impression of the conflict or the relationship and then require the individual to rewrite the negative parts in that narrative. This encourages people to view the situation or the relationship under a new lens, socially, culturally, and politically. Narrative therapy encourages partners to look in-depth into the issues that might be troubling to either partner. It enables them to find new ways to deal with the issues in the relationship.
Positive Psychology: Positive psychology enforces the notion that happiness is derived from within and encourages couples to focus on the positive effects, features, and emotions, their partners, and the relationship. It operates on the notion that people in relationships are often fixated on the issues happening when it clouds their memories of the happier times. This form of therapy focuses only on positive energy and emotions by conditioning one or both partners to relive the happier moments they have. One way is to use pagers or beepers. The therapist asks the individual to record experiences they are having each moment and enter a detailed narration of the events in a journal the following day.
Solution-Focused Therapy: This form of therapy is most effective when the couple comes to the therapist to understand the problem they are currently facing in their relationship. The therapist would then use the information being provided to shape his questioning line and discover the root of the problem. Solution-focused therapy is very effective when the couples are spot on about the issues, and the problems are narrowly defined. If wide-reaching problems plague the relationship, the therapist would not have enough information to tackle the issue properly.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: CBT is backed by extensive research and is a common therapy type for couples and individuals that focuses on how thoughts influence behavior. This therapy operates on the principle that thought controls your feelings, and your feelings control your actions. Therapists would try to understand how the couple thinks about their problems and try to change the modes of thinking. Changing how they perceive themselves, their partners, and the relationship would allow for more tolerance.
Why Do Most Couples Break Up?
Couples break up for several reasons, and sometimes it is not a bad thing. After spending time with each other, some people realize some flaws and inconsistencies they cannot live with. Couples like this might go for couples counseling, do everything right, and still be unable to rekindle the flame that brought them together. Below are a few of the problems a couple might encounter and would eventually instigate a breakup.
They Have Not Learned To Accommodate Their Differences: In the honeymoon phase where the couple has only just met each other, they tend to focus only on the things they have in common, smile and enjoy each other’s time. Like we all know, the honeymoon stage does not last forever, and when the relationship sets in, the differences come to the surface. In most cases, couples can save their relationship by employing the services of a family therapist.
The Relationship Is Not Given Attention: Most relationships start strong, but as time passes, many relationships become starved of attention which leads to a disconnect between the partners. If it continues at this pace for an extended period, the relationship will experience stress and strain.
How Do You Mend A Broken Relationship?
It might not be easy to let your significant other go, but you cannot do much more if the other half of the relationship is unwilling to fix things and make things work. The first step will be to figure out if there is a chance at a fix.
If both parties are willing to give it a try, you must figure out what went wrong the first time before making things concrete. You can do this by signing up for couples counseling, with one of the benefits of couples therapy being the openness between the couple in the presence of an impartial listener.
Can You Go To Couples Counseling If You're Not Married?
Couples counseling, although used interchangeably, is not the same as marriage counseling. If you’re married, you would need the services of a marriage and family therapist. If you are in a relationship with another party marred with excessive conflicts, be it your roommate or your sibling, it is appropriate to sign up for couples therapy. Couples therapy aims to help and better your relationship regardless of your sexual orientation or living arrangements.
Can A Therapist Tell You To Leave Your Partner?
The answer is no; it is not in the marriage or family therapist's place to tell a client what to do with their relationship. Couples counseling only allows the therapist to weigh in, give their expert opinion, advise the couple on the steps to take to maintain the relationship, or preserve the individual’s satisfaction, and safety. The decision-making rests on the client, with the therapist having to respect and support that decision.
How often should couples go to therapy?
What not to say in couples counseling?
What is the goal of couples therapy?
Are couples therapy worth it?
Can couples therapy fix toxic relationships?
Can couples therapy fix a broken relationship?
Can couples therapy save a toxic relationship?
- Previous Article
- Next Article