Couples Therapy, or marriage counselling as it is also called, is one of the top reasons why people contact a therapist for help. Even if the person contacting the therapist is asking for individual therapy, our relationships play a major role in our well-being, to the point where I often tell clients that mental health exists in the space between them and their significant others, rather than in their own heads.
Frequently couples are reticent to seek therapy for their relationship, or the partner that makes the call struggles to get their other half to attend with them. People fear it will be an uncomfortable and emotionally charged experience where the therapist will end up siding with one or other person, or telling them they should separate. Consequently, counselling can get postponed to the point where the relationship is on life support, and then the outcome might well be less favourable.
So, what does happen in Couples Therapy?
You don’t need to wait until both partners agree about attending therapy together. If you are distressed in your relationship, then seek help, and often your therapist will assist you to bring the other partner into therapy.
When you enter into Couples Therapy, it is important to understand that the therapist is not a magician who can fix any relationship. There are three people in the room, and each person has their responsibility to be an active agent in the process of change. The therapist guides you towards new solutions and ways of doing things, but ultimately the couples with the best outcomes are the ones who are receptive to feedback and motivated to do the work. It is also helpful to know that not all couples come to therapy for a happy ending. Sometimes a relationship needs help to end well, especially when there are children involved.
It has been said that the average couple that comes to counseling has been in distress for about six years before they make the call, which could explain why it is often one of the areas of therapy where people have the most complaints about outcome. As in all fields of mental and physical health, early detection and treatment is the best medicine. Good marriage is a highly skilled activity, so don’t wait until you reach the point where you can’t stand the sight of each other to seek help. Consider your marriage to be like a car and keep it well serviced!
If your relationship is in distress, then counselling might be a good option to help you to move forward. I offer a free 20-minute consultation so we can explore how I might be able to help you