Couples Therapy: Getting to the Root of the Problem in the Relationship
Do you feel like you and your partner aren’t on the same page? Would your relationship benefit from better communication? Are big life changes on the horizon?
Working with a psychologist for relationships can help you mend the leaks in your partnership while providing ways to handle future conflicts. Here’s everything you need to know about counseling for couples and how our qualified, experienced professionals can help you and your partner reconnect and resolve marriage issues.
What Is Couples Counseling?
Couples counseling involves utilizing a mental health professional to improve your relationship with your spouse or significant partner. However, it is not personal psychotherapy. In couples therapy, the couple is the client—not the individual. The goal for a couples therapist or psychologist is to help that couple be the best version of themselves. The therapist is working in the best interest of the couple.
The issues worked on in therapy are the couple’s choice. You decide on an agreed-upon goal and the therapist will help you learn how to improve to reach that goal as a single unit.
Two big fears keep people away from couples counseling: the fear that people who need therapy are “crazy” and the worry that needing marriage counseling indicates your relationship is over. Neither of these fears is true. Couples therapy is more common than you think. One study showed that 49% of 1,000 couples surveyed said they had couples therapy with their spouse.
Every type of couple can benefit from couples counseling or finding a therapist or psychologist for relationships. Some of these benefits are:
- Restoring and building trust in each other.
- Having a safe space to talk about the relationship.
- Having a neutral 3rd party to guide conflict resolution.
- Learning active listening and improving communication skills.
- Developing coping mechanisms.
- Help in controlling expectations for unrealistic romantic overtones.
- Gaining new perspectives.
- Understanding the relationship issues and dynamics.
- Conflict prevention.
Reasons For Couples Counseling
There are several good reasons couples seek counseling. Deciding to go to therapy shows a commitment and effort to make the relationship healthier. Some reasons for couples counseling are:
- Financial issues like debt, insufficient income, financial control, or overspending.
- Intimacy issues such as the absence of intimacy, infidelity, self-esteem, or sexual problems.
- Parenting issues like conflicting parenting styles, new parents, step-children and adaption.
- Family of origin conflicts such as emotional triggers, anger management, or role definitions.
- Life changes such as death or sickness of a child, loss of a job, or empty nesters who need to focus on being a couple again.
- Communication issues like feeling unheard, ignored, or misunderstood.
The biggest reasons for couples counseling are to improve relationship satisfaction and strengthen the bond between partners.
When to Get Couples Therapy
The best time to seek a psychologist for relationships is before a problem arises. Pre-marital counseling is very successful at heading off conflicts, adapting to living together and merging lives. Once issues are so challenging and feel entrenched, it’s challenging to get back to where you first both began. No matter the issue, at the first sign of trouble, get an appointment with qualified couples or marriage counselors like those at Goodman. Don’t let concerns or conflicts go on for months or years.
Consider pre-emptive couples therapy like a tune-up on your car. Everything needs basic maintenance, and a close relationship is no different. Couples counseling is a great place to check in with your partner and discuss worries about potential changes so that you both have a plan on how to manage life’s difficulties together.
What to Expect in Couples Therapy
Your couples counseling may use one of the two main therapies to help you both achieve your relationship goals: emotionally focused therapy for couples and the Gottman method.
- Emotionally focused therapy (EFT) is an evidence-based, common treatment designed to focus on building the emotional attachment between the couple. This therapy has a limited number of sessions and has been proven very successful not only with couples but for parents of sick children and military members with PTSD.
- The Gottman method is also proven to be successful. According to the Gottman Method website, “couples learn to replace negative conflict patterns with positive interactions and to repair past hurts. Interventions designed to increase closeness and intimacy are used to improve friendship, deepen emotional connection, and create changes which enhance the couple's shared goals.”
Your treatment plan may vary, but counseling usually follows similar routines like this:
In the first session, the couple will come into therapy and talk about how they function together and what is going on in their lives right now. Then, the therapist will ask what they want to work on and their goals for their relationship.
Next, each person will have an individual session with the therapist. This gives each person a safe and uninterrupted opportunity to tell their truth while giving the therapist insight into each person’s thoughts on the relationship and any concerning matters.
After the individual sessions, the couple comes back together for joint therapy, like in the initial session. By this point, the therapist has heard individual perspectives and can work to bring the couple together to reach their goals. The whole process is spread out over three to four sessions.
Couples therapy is also not ongoing and forever. Typically, if you’re struggling and agree to try couples therapy, you would work on it for about four months. Sessions might be once a week to get started, then once a month. You will work with your therapist to find the best treatment schedule. Then, after close to four months of treatment, you will likely have an idea of whether the therapy is working or if you need to try a different treatment plan.
There are some occasions when only one person in the relationship is ready to see a relationship therapist. In these cases, it is a good idea to see one of our therapists or psychologists for individual therapy. Situations can improve with only one person working on themselves.
Root Out the Problems in Relationships
A lot of people come into therapy because they think they need to improve their communication, but it’s usually about one person feeling like they’re not being heard. It’s really about the couple not listening to each other. It’s also important to identify the root problems. In most marriages, the perceived problem is often not the real problem.
One of the reasons a trained, independent third party can see the real issues is that they are not part of the problem. This is one of the most important reasons a couple whose relationship is suffering should seek out professional help. Rather than suffering while trying to resolve the problems in a relationship on your own, consider giving us a call to help root out the real problems. You will have a much better understanding of each other and your relationship will be stronger for it.
At Goodman Psychologist Associates, we offer couples counseling both in-person and virtually. Our caring staff can find the right therapist, assist with scheduling, and guide you and your partner into a healthier, stronger relationship. Contact us today by calling 630-377-3535 or emailing our team.