Couples Counseling

Making the choice to go to couples counseling can feel like a very big step. It involves admitting that things are not perfect in your partnership, which can be difficult to admit.

Signs you should visit a couples counselor

Choosing to go to couples counseling can be a difficult decision. Below are some common issues that indicate that a couple could potentially benefit from counseling:

  • Trust has been broken: One of the most common reasons for seeking couple therapy is the need for help in overcoming a major breach of trust. Some examples of this could be infidelity, an emotional affair, lies and deception about money, etc. In any case rebuilding the foundation of trust can be established once individuals are free to express their vulnerability.
  • Arguments become more frequent: The pattern of arguments are becoming more frequent, which could indicate that significant problems are under the surface that aren’t being dealt with.
  • Poor Communication: Feeling constantly misunderstood or ignored, the feeling that your partner is a stranger, or that you don’t understand what your partner is going through emotionally could all be examples of when poor communication is present. One of the best outcomes of attending couples counseling is increase in communication.
  • Something feels wrong: Couples therapy is useful in helping to identify problems. If there has been a dynamic change in your relationship but you can’t describe it, or do not feel as comfortable with your partner as you used to. You may begin to feel resentful towards them but unsure of why. There are early signs that interactions are turning unhealthy or dysfunctional. This does not mean that one person is to blame, but rather that the relationship could use more focus and attention.
  • You are unable to tell them something: Therapy is able to create a safe space where you feel comfortable bringing up things that are difficult to talk about where it could be difficult to talk about in other settings.
  • Dysfunction during a conflict: Learning how a couple handles conflict is one of the best predictors of whether that relationship will go the distance. If yourself or your partner shuts down, lashes out, gets vengeful or passive aggressive are all ways that people handle conflict. Learning how yourself and your partner handles conflicts can help the two of you be successful in finding ways to manage two different conflict styles through therapy.
  • Life Changes: Life can throw many unexpected setbacks such as loss of a child, loss of a job, a health crisis, family crisis. Couples often turn to counseling when something big in life has happened and the two partners are finding it difficult to connect through navigating difficult times.
  • Stuck in bad patterns: There is no limit to the number of patterns that partners develop in day-to-day life such as when they eat and sleep, how much time they spend together and apart, who handles household chores, and how they interact with each other’s families. As a long pattern sets in regarding being set in bad patterns the more time and energy will take to change these patterns.
  • Emotional intimacy is gone: The daily grind can sometimes make couples feel like they have lost their “spark” and that they are more so roommates than soulmates. Two partners may feel like they have slowly started to grow apart and incompatible is a time when partners might consider therapy.
  • Physical intimacy is a problem: Sexual issues can be both a symptom and a cause of relationship problems which is often at the forefront of a couple’s day to day complaints. Sometimes the change is obvious when a couple goes from frequent physical intimacy to almost none can be frustrating. Other Times it is a gradual slow down from being fulfilled by each other sexually to being barely satisfied. Still other times when one partner expresses frustration such as a partner constantly being rejected, or using sex as a bargaining tool.

Does couples counseling really work?

If you are considering couples counseling but unsure whether it will be with it, you are not alone. Many couples are skeptical about the effectiveness of couples counseling, however it has been shown that couples counseling is 75% effective according to the American Psychological Association. The major positive outcome is the reduction of complaints (relationship distress) between partners and couples who see positive results that continue for at least two years concluding treatment. Couples who typically fall into the 25% group where couples counseling does not work for them are those who are in abusive relationships (physical or emotional) and do not see improvement until the abusive behavior stops.

Additional Resources

Blog – Is it Time to Go to Couples Counseling?

Blog – What to Do if You Don’t Trust Each other

Blog – 10 Things to Try Before Giving up on Your Marriage

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