Considering Couples Therapy? Remember These Tips
Even if you’ve attended individual therapy, starting couples counseling can stir up feelings of anxiety. It might feel overwhelming to talk about your relationship issues with a professional counselor—and that’s completely normal.
Couples counseling can be a powerful tool for any relationship, helping couples boost relationship satisfaction, develop healthy communication skills, and build healthier partnerships. And the numbers back this up: Common types of couples therapy, such as emotion-focused therapy (EFT) and the Gottman method, have high success rates. According to the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, marriage counseling has a success rate of 98 percent.
Not every couple who attends couples therapy stays together, but preparing for counseling can help you (and your partner) make the most of your therapy sessions. Here’s how to navigate couples therapy to build a happier, healthier relationship with your partner.
Take time to find the right fit.
If you’re searching for a couples therapist, prepare to pour some time and effort into your search. Your therapeutic alliance—the relationship between you and your therapist—matters, and both partners should always feel comfortable opening up during therapy sessions.
As a result, some couples might schedule initial consultations with multiple family therapists, clinical psychologists, and couples counselors before finding the right fit. If you feel comfortable, consider asking for recommendations from trusted family members, friends, or coworkers.
During your search, consider your scheduling requirements, personal preferences, and cultural background. In addition, if you’re experiencing any specific issues, such as substance abuse, resentment, or infidelity, try narrowing your search to find a couples counselor with experience treating these issues.
Set goals before your first counseling session.
Even the best couples counselor can’t save every relationship. And sometimes, spouses start couples therapy unsure if they want their relationship to be saved. To make couples counseling work for your relationship, both partners should express a willingness to participate in counseling and improve the relationship.
For the best results, talk about your relationship goals. Before attending your first counseling session, it’s a good idea to define one or two goals that you want to work on as a couple, whether handling disagreements constructively or practicing empathy during your conversations. This way, you can tell your couples therapist what you want to get out of therapy and carve the best path forward,
Don’t wait until rock bottom to start counseling.
Often, couples wait too long to start couples counseling. This may be due to stigma, financial issues, scheduling, or difficulty finding the right couples counselor. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t — and shouldn’t — have to wait until rock bottom to benefit from a professional mental health practitioner.
According to Dr. John Gottman, a psychologist and couples therapist who performed years of research on intimate relationships, couples should seek behavioral couples therapy (BCT) when four behaviors are present in a relationship. These behaviors, which Gottman calls the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,” are:
Even if you have a healthy relationship, counseling can help you improve your communication skills, learn more about your spouse, and set goals for the future. You’ll develop valuable skills to overcome relationship issues and cope with relationship distress.
Compassionate Couples Counseling in Washington, DC
If left unchecked, communication issues can seriously affect any romantic relationship. It’s normal to feel intense emotions, experience negative thoughts, or fall into depression if you have relationship issues—but you don’t have to deal with these challenges alone. The benefits of couples therapy or specialized LGBTQIA+ Couples Therapy are wide-ranging, helping you improve your affection and marital satisfaction to cultivate a healthier relationship.
To find the right couples counselor, reach out to a couples therapist through The Therapy Group of DC. We know that couples therapy can feel intimidating, and we’re here to help you every step of the way. Whether you’re navigating difficult family relationships, intimacy issues, or unhappiness, we’ll help you overcome relationship distress with a personalized treatment plan based on your unique relationship issues.