When you’re sick, you book an appointment with the doctor. When the light in your bathroom starts flickering, you call your electrician. So when your relationship is having problems, who do you call? Couples fighting is not something new, but when it starts hindering the relationship, that’s when you know a change is required. Going for couples counseling is a great way to address the problems that you’re having with your partner in a safe space without being judged.
Sometimes, you can talk about your problems with your partner but they might misunderstand you, leading to more fights and problems. Similarly, you could talk about your issues to a close friend, hoping they’d understand. But they’re not always available and might not be experienced enough to give you solid relationship advice. However, when it comes to relationship counseling, you get unbiased advice about your relationship from a licensed professional who has dealt with these types of problems.
When Counseling Helps
If you notice that you and your partner have been having more fights recently that don’t end with a resolution, it’s likely that you need counseling. There may be times when you’re under a lot of pressure from work or family that could also hinder your relationship. Not to mention that on average, couples wait 6 years after problems develop to seek counseling, which is a lot of time for those problems to fester and deplete the love in a relationship.
If you feel there is little success in working through your relationship problems, if you find yourselves avoiding each other, or using aggressive words or actions that can cause emotional or physical hurt, then professional counseling may help. Couples counseling advice is usually given by a professional who is experienced in dealing with these issues. They are licensed by the state or accredited by a professional organization in order to practice counseling.
Below are some common issues couples go through that are signs they need to visit a counselor:
- If conversations start becoming more and more negative
- If you start feeling your partner is more like a “roommate” than your partner
- If your problems end with no resolve
- If there is spiteful behavior
- If a partner has an affair or starts considering it.
How Does It Work?
There are many couples who are reluctant to take relationship advice simply because they don’t know how it can help them. They feel the traditional treatments don’t work for them and hence, they don’t seek help at all. Some just don’t understand what to expect from these counseling sessions.
When you go for couples counseling, you and your partner will learn about essential skills like effective communication and how to solve problems without compromising the relationship. The therapist will help you apply these skills to your relationship. After a while, you will be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor while being in a happy and stable relationship.
Remember, the decision to seek counseling is extremely personal, but also a progressive and courageous one. Couples looking for a quick fix, or a short term solution to a long term problem may not be able to see the progress from successful counseling sessions. That is because couples therapy requires consistent awareness and determination to make a long term change possible.
Couples Counseling – What to Expect
As you might have understood by now, the goal of any therapy, be it couples therapy or otherwise, is to understand yourself and your partner and identify the behavioral or communication patterns that are causing the stress in your relationship. Thus, therapy takes a lot of time and patience, but in return, it helps you gain self-reflection and empathy for your partner.
While every therapist is different, there are usually some similarities in how their therapeutic practice is structured. Usually, couples therapy sessions last about an hour, depending upon the therapist, and are scheduled for once every week, unless intense therapy has been prescribed.
No matter who you choose as your therapist for your couples therapy sessions, here are some of the common practices followed for a generic session for couples undergoing relationship problems:
A good fit between you and your therapist: Don’t settle for a mediocre therapist. After all, you are going to talk about intimate and personal details of your relationship, and you do not want such information to fall in the hands of an incompetent person. Therefore, take your time and find out the therapist that works as the best fit for you.
Therapy is a partnership: You have to understand that therapy is a two-way process, where both you and your therapist equally contribute to the healing process. While you aren’t supposed to carry the entire burden of self-recovery and realization, the same goes for your therapist as well. Therefore, find a therapist that makes you feel like being a part of a collaboration.
It’s not always a flowery path: During your therapy sessions, there may be some painful memories or feelings of frustration that will resurface. This is quite normal for therapy sessions, and your therapist will comfortably guide you through the entire process. All you need to do is make sure that you communicate your feelings to the therapist.
It should be a safe space: Even if you face some challenging emotions or unpleasant feelings during your therapy session, it is important to make sure that you feel safe while being vulnerable. If you start feeling overwhelmed with your sessions or feel uncomfortable and start dreading your therapy sessions, consult your therapist, and seek a solution beneficial to both parties involved.
No matter what you may hear, couples therapy is not a magic solution or a guaranteed treatment method to fix relationship issues between couples. Therapy tends to work differently for different people, as it is an extremely personal journey in itself.
While at times couples realize why and how they need to fight for their relationship and save it from eternal doom, there are times when therapy makes two people realize that they might not be right for each other after all. However, these sessions give people a safe and empathic space to work through their problems and overcome the challenges in your relationship.