Couples therapy can have a different structure than individual or group therapy. While individual therapy focuses solely on one client's needs, desires, and goals, couples therapy divides the time between partners and aims to provide a fair and balanced opportunity for more than one person to receive care. This form of mental health treatment can help you and your partner learn about yourselves and each other and how you can strengthen your relationship. However, some aspects of couples therapy can be beneficial to understand before you get started.
What To Know About Couples Therapy
Couples Therapy May Not "Save" Your Relationship
Couples counselors are not able to "save" or "fix" your relationship on their own. If the individuals seeking support do not give willingness, effort, and intent, the strategies and techniques taught may not be effective. A couples therapist offers advice and teaches couples what might work based on the information they provide. If the information provided is false, undetailed, or confusing, effects may not be noticed.
If both partners are unwilling to try therapy, there may not be as much of a result. Although you can't change how someone else acts, if you're seeking treatment while your partner is against the idea, the therapist may be unable to change their mind. You might feel more frustrated, where your partner might feel pressured or that the therapist is taking sides, even if they aren't.
If you are considering ending your relationship, a couples therapist can help you discuss these possibilities as a moderator, providing insight and noting if unhealthy coping mechanisms are used during conversations in session. Often, having an open mind and being willing to complete homework and partake in activities is one of the best ways to find results from couples therapy.
A Significant Amount Of Work Is Done Outside Of Sessions
Although sessions with a therapist provide the basis for the skills you can learn in couples therapy, the work you learn in sessions must often be practiced outside of sessions for you to integrate it into your life. Therapy is not forever, and the skills you learn when talking to your therapist are there to help you make changes. If you and your partner ignore the homework, avoid activities, or only try the coping skills once or twice, you might not find them effective.
It may feel easier to do the work when you and your partner sit in the room with your therapist. Doing the work at home, feeling frustrated with one another, and having a bad day can be more challenging. Therapy is a structured environment, but home life is more realistic, where you can practice skills in real-time. As you and your partner are responsible for fixing and maintaining your relationship, dedicating yourselves to this time, even when it's hard, may help you succeed.
Willingness Is Essential
You or your partner may feel resistant to couple therapy. However, a willingness to try, give couples therapy a chance, and participate in all activities can make the difference between improvements and stagnancy. Deciding you love your partner and want your relationship to change positively can be the first step.
You might also benefit more from couples therapy if both you and your partner want the relationship to work out at the same level. If one of you is fully committed while the other is only partially committed, you might be doing most of the work, which can cause emotional distress and unfair dynamics. In some cases, you might find it healthiest to end your relationship. In others, your therapist might be able to help you have a heart-to-heart with your partner about the effort you need in your relationship for it to continue.
You Can Try Couples Therapy At Any Time
Many couples believe that couples therapy is only a last resort for problems like divorce or infidelity. However, couples counseling can be beneficial at any point. You do not have to have a mental health condition or diagnosis to see a therapist, and you do not have to be on the brink of divorcing to receive guidance. In addition, couples can attend therapy at the beginning of their relationship, in the middle, or years into it. Anyone of any age, sexuality, gender identity, or background can use this service.
When attending couples therapy without a present conflict or severe challenge, your therapist can help you tackle minor issues or teach you new skills to use in case future conflicts or challenges occur. You might also discuss your individual mental health and any boundaries you haven't previously brought up. Instead of bringing up these topics during arguments, they can be addressed early with a professional's support.
Couples Therapy May Not Guarantee Results
Note that couples therapy is a therapeutic service but not a cure. Even if you hope to stay with your partner or resolve conflict, there may be cases where the skills you use do not work or you aren't compatible. Although it can be painful to lose a relationship or not make progress, note that this may not say anything about you, your partner, or your therapist. At times, individuals are at different stages of growth and need different elements to thrive. If you feel that your therapist isn't helping, is picking sides, or asking one of you to leave the other, you might benefit from choosing a new provider.
Open Communication Can Make A Difference
When going into couple therapy, try to be willing to openly and honestly communicate with your therapist and partner. Even if you feel embarrassed or shameful about certain subjects, try not to agree with your partner to keep details about your arguments out of the conversation. Although you don't have to share everything with your therapist, being transparent about mistakes, not completing homework, or arguments can help your therapist know how to support you best.
Couples therapy is a mental health service that has helped millions of couples improve their relationships, and over 70% of couples see results for up to three years after treatment or longer. Couples therapy can help clients recognize patterns, understand areas for improvement, and learn about what a successful, loving, and healthy partnership can look like. Life can sometimes be challenging, but a therapist can offer empathy and guidance as you navigate your challenges.
If you're struggling to find a couples therapist that fits you and your partner's schedule, or you're looking for someone with a specialty not offered in your area, you can also try online couples therapy. Through an online platform like Regain, you can get matched with a therapist based on your preferences and meet with them remotely via phone, video, or live chat sessions. If you and your partner have alternate schedules, you can meet your provider from two locations.
Studies show that couples prefer internet-based methods to in-person ones due to reduced stigma, the connection between them and their therapist, and the ability to use a flexible treatment format. When you sign up for a platform, you can receive care as effective as traditional therapy from an environment that makes you feel comfortable.
There are many aspects of couples therapy that couples may not understand when first getting started. Preparing yourself for treatment can help you get the most out of your therapist's advice and start focusing on your goals alongside your partner.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Below are several frequently asked questions on the topic of couples therapy.
How Much Does Couples Therapy Cost?
Forbes found that the average cost of couples therapy in the US is $175 to $275 per hour without insurance. As most insurance companies do not offer care for couples, finding a provider can prove challenging and expensive. Through online platforms like ReGain, you can pay $65 to $90 per week, billed every four weeks. This cost includes unlimited messaging with your therapist, which can be split between you and your partner.
What Is The Success Rate Of Couples Therapy?
The success rate of couples therapy ranges based on the study you find. Many aspects can contribute to the success rate, including the relationship's state when therapy is started and each partner's effort in the process.
What Does A Relationship Therapist Do?
A licensed marriage and family therapist can work with couples in many different ways. Some couples therapists work with couples before a wedding for premarital counseling. They help couples learn skills and strategies, such as communicating well with each other about household duties.
Other counselors may help couples with the following topics, among others:
Lack of intimacy
Substance use challenges
Learning a specific therapy modality, such as dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
Adoption and fostering
Open relationships and polyamory
Life changes, such as a new job or house
Feelings for an ex
Crisis and safety planning
Divorce or separation
Deciding whether to break up
If you are struggling with substance use, contact the SAMHSA National Helpline at (800) 662-4357 to receive support and resources.
The couple's therapist's role is often to help the couple reach their goals for coming to therapy. If they want to reconcile their marriage, the therapist can help them work in that direction. If the couple isn't sure what they want from the relationship, the therapist can help them work through the steps to decide where they stand.
What Is The Best Therapy For Couples?
There are different couples therapy strategies that couples therapists use depending on the situation's specifics. A few of the most popular include the following:
Emotionally focused therapy (EFT)
Dialectical behavior therapy for couples (DBT)
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
The Gottman method
How Long Is A Couples Therapy Session?
Many therapy sessions last 30 minutes to an hour. Talk to your therapist to determine which length of time they offer and how this impacts the price of sessions.
What Should You Do When You Can't Afford Couples Therapy?
If you cannot afford couples therapy, you may be able to find a therapist through a community health center with free or reduced-priced services. If it applies to you, you may also be able to work with a social worker in a similar setting or with a religious leader offering faith-based counseling. Although not free, you can also try online therapy, which is often affordable.
Do Marriage Counselors Recommend Divorce?
Therapists are often trained not to offer an opinion on whether couples should stay together or separate. They can instead lead the clients through exercises and conversations to discover this topic if the clients are interested in doing so. Ultimately, any decision to end the relationship is up to the clients.
Does Couples Counseling Work For Cheating?
Couples therapy can help couples work on reconciling from emotional or physical affairs. However, treatment may not be beneficial in every case. A therapist can help the couple talk about what occurred, repair wounds, and discuss coping mechanisms. They cannot change what happened, take sides, or fix emotional wounds. Repair is up to the partners.
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