How Couples Should Decide Whether to Consult, According to Therapists

Marriage counseling can be difficult, but it’s often wise to spend time with your relationship to see if it can be improved. About 44% of couples seek marriage counseling before tying the knot. Studies also show that couples therapy has a positive effect on 70% of couples receiving treatment. A couples counselor is by nature impartial, so if you want to resolve issues with your significant other, they can offer an outside perspective. It is also a plus that the view from the side comes from a person who is well versed in matters of relationships. But how do you know when it’s right for you?

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Signs that you and your partner may need family counseling

Dr. Gavin Shafron , a New York State licensed psychologist and couples counselor at Clarity Therapy NYC , says a couple may start counseling for a variety of reasons, one of which is ongoing conflict. “I often see couples come to therapy when they’re dealing with the same recurring arguments over and over again or when they’re concerned about the sustainability or health of their current dynamic.”

Dr. Saliha Bawa , a licensed marriage and family therapist and author of The Parenting Relationship Book , expanded on this question: “I have had couples come in and find that they…are in conflict and they feel tension, not necessarily a fight, but even there is still tension in the body. Something is wrong, and you can say that she does not listen, does not understand me. This distinction is important because while it may be obvious if there is a lot of external struggle, this general tension is often overlooked.

According to Bava, counseling is all about respecting each other’s differences and finding the middle ground. Sometimes a couple may not have “a language or a way to talk to each other because they are too caught up in their differences.”

Communication skills are the cornerstone of healthy relationships. Remember that the decision to enter therapy is yours to make, but if you are struggling with communication problems, counseling is a good place to start.

What to do if you are still unsure

If you or your partner are still not sure if family counseling is right for you, it’s time to think a little. Shafron recommends thinking, “What challenges [you or your partner] about the idea of ​​starting counseling?”

He continued: “Some may have a fear that something will happen during therapy that will further destroy their relationship or, in the worst case, end the relationship, so not being prepared can be very existential. Others may be ashamed of their actions or the problems that exist in their relationship. Sometimes it can be a combination of a number of factors.”

These assumptions can definitely get in the way of therapy, but remember that the family counselor is trained to be neutral. Two useful questions to ask yourself before starting therapy are: do you feel that the problems in your relationship are already being resolved, or do you feel that changes need to happen. Ultimately, the goal of therapy is always to develop new communication skills and heal wounds together .

Bava also recommends researching as much information as possible beforehand. This means not only a quick Google search, but calling several therapists to see if they are right for you. “Most therapists I know will make a five to ten minute call and you can ask questions and see if that’s a good place to start.” She also recommends trying at least three sessions before you decide for sure it’s not for you.

When is couples therapy not worth it?

Counseling is not required for everyone. As Bava explained, “It all comes back to what you are looking for in counseling. If you’re looking at it as a quick fix, like a pill, it might not work. This is a process. You must be willing to participate in the process.”

Shafron added: “Some people come to counseling to change their partner’s traits or characteristics. This is not the best use of couples counseling because therapy is not about changing the other person’s character or personality to make the relationship work.” If you’re not prepared to put in the effort and the (sometimes) difficult work that comes with couples counseling, it might be time to consider other options.

Ultimately, starting family therapy is a decision that both partners must make. It takes some thought, but if you’re willing to put in the effort, it can be incredibly healing for your relationship.

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