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Is Couples Counseling Right for Your Relationship?

This is a question that may surface for you and your partner, especially after conflict. From communication breakdowns to unresolved arguments, these challenges can put a heavy strain on your heart. Despite this, we continue to see a hesitancy when it comes to couples counseling. Maybe you have heard "if you are seeking couples counseling, then the relationship is already doomed" or maybe you have even had that thought yourself. This blog post will explore what couples counseling is all about and hopefully answer some questions you may have about the process.


Understanding Couples Counseling

Couples counseling, also known as relationship counseling, involves sessions with a licensed counselor or therapist who guides partners in improving their relationship dynamics. The focus is on enhancing communication, resolving conflicts, and fostering a deeper understanding of each other’s needs and perspectives. Unlike individual therapy, the primary unit of treatment in couples therapy is the relationship itself.


The Benefits of Couples Counseling

Research has consistently demonstrated the efficacy of couples counseling in improving relationship satisfaction. A study published in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy found that approximately 70% of couples reported significant improvement in their relationship following therapy (Lebow, Chambers, Christensen, & Johnson, 2012). This improvement can translate into better emotional intimacy, trust, and overall happiness.

  1. Improved Communication: One of the core components of couples counseling is practicing effective communication. The key word here is "effective". We may think we are great at frequent communication, but quantity and quality are important components to consider. in counseling, partners can learn to express their feelings and thoughts more openly and constructively, leading to fewer misunderstandings and more meaningful interactions.

  2. Conflict Resolution: Many couples struggle with recurring arguments that seem impossible to resolve. Couples counseling can equip partners with tools and techniques to address conflicts in a healthy and productive manner, rather than the same ol' argument you have become accustomed to having. This can resolve some current issues but also builds resilience for future challenges.

  3. Emotional Support: Counseling provides a safe space for partners to explore their emotions and vulnerabilities. This can be particularly beneficial for those who feel unheard or neglected in their relationship. The counselor or therapist acts as a mediator, ensuring that both partners feel valued and understood.

  4. Rebuilding Trust: Trust is a cornerstone of any strong relationship. For couples dealing with issues such as infidelity or betrayal, therapy can facilitate the healing process and help rebuild trust. A study in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology highlighted that couples therapy can significantly enhance trust and commitment in relationships (Snyder, Castellani, & Whisman, 2006).


Is Couples Therapy Right for Your Relationship?

Now that we understand what couples counseling can do, let's explore some reasons why you might want to consider couples counseling for your own relationship. Here are some signs that couples counseling might be a good option for you and your partner.

  1. Ongoing Issues: If you and your partner face recurring problems that seem insurmountable, counseling can provide new perspectives and strategies to address these challenges.

  2. Motivation for Improvement: Both partners must be willing to invest time and effort into improving the relationship. A shared commitment to the process is crucial for achieving positive outcomes.

  3. Communication Breakdowns: If you struggle to communicate effectively with your partner, therapy can help bridge the gap and foster healthier interactions.

  4. Emotional Distance: Counseling can help rekindle emotional intimacy and strengthen your bond.

  5. Life Transitions: Major life changes, such as moving in together, having a child, moving, or career shifts, can put strain on a relationship. Couples counseling can provide support during these transitions.


Taking the First Step

Deciding to pursue couples counseling is a brave and hopeful step toward strengthening your relationship. It’s important to approach this decision with openness and a willingness to grow together. Here are some steps to help you get started:

  1. Research Therapists: Look for licensed counselors or therapists who specialize in couples counseling. You may want to consider who would be the best fit for your specific circumstances. Here are some specialties that might be important to you and your partner; Faith-based counseling, multi-cultural relationships, marriage counseling, LGBTQ+ affirming, parenting challenges, etc. Be sure to specify specialties in your search.

  2. Schedule a Consultation: Many counselors offer initial consultations to discuss your needs and determine if they are a good fit for you. Use this opportunity to ask questions and gauge your comfort level with the counselor or therapist.

  3. Set Goals: Before starting therapy, discuss your goals with your partner. Having a clear understanding of what you both hope to achieve can guide the therapeutic process.

  4. Commit to the Process: Therapy requires dedication and effort from both partners. Attend sessions regularly and be open to applying what you learn in your daily life.


Jordan Killian, LCMHCA offers couples counseling at Salt and Cypress Counseling here in Wilmington, North Carolina. Here's what she has to say about her work with couples:

"I love being a couple's counselor because I get to help couples celebrate their strengths and tackle challenges together. By using experiential activities that promote communication and collaboration, it’s been impactful to see the couple deepen their connection in session."

Jordan offers office visits as well as outdoor Nature-Based Therapy for individuals, couples, and families.






References

  • Lebow, J., Chambers, A., Christensen, A., & Johnson, S. (2012). Research on the Treatment of Couple Distress. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 38(1), 145-168.

  • Snyder, D. K., Castellani, A. M., & Whisman, M. A. (2006). Current status and future directions in couple therapy. Annual Review of Psychology, 57, 317-344.

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