Getting to Know Marriage Counseling & Couples Therapy

Those considering counseling for a relationship may be confused about the distinctions between marriage counseling and couples therapy. While these two categories often overlap, they can be defined in two distinct ways. Generally speaking, couples therapy looks at historical patterns and problems facing a relationship. Marriage counseling, as a contrast, address current problems. Overall, both approaches work toward enhancing communication and coping mechanisms in a relationships with the hopes that both partners can get to happier and healthier places.

When to Go to Therapy

There are any number of reasons a couple may choose counseling. Many couples take a proactive approach, attending sessions even if things are relatively stable between them with the goal of enhancing bonds and coping mechanisms. Sometimes, couples need therapy in acute circumstances, when significant events or traumas have occurred.

Whatever the reason for going into marriage or couples counseling, both partners need to work hard and sincerely during the process. Lessons and coping mechanisms learned in session need to be practiced and then applied at home, oftentimes. The good news is that the hard work pays off. Only 3 percent of those in marriage counseling report feeling that the process did not work.

What Couples Benefit from Seeing a Therapist?

When you are in the middle of a difficult time or conflict, it can be difficult to see the forest for the trees, making it hard to determine whether you could benefit from counseling. Couples who benefit from counseling may have experienced:

    • Cheating: Couples in which one or both partners have crossed lines with someone outside the relationship often benefit from counseling. Counseling can even help when a partner has only fantasized about the option.
  • Poor or Unhealthy Communication: Healthy communication is at the heart of any healthy relationship. Signs of unhealthy communication include insults and criticizing or limiting communications to logistics.
  • When Separation is on the Table: Conflict can take couples to the point of considering separation. In these times, a counselor can help.

What to Expect in Couples Therapy

If you have some trepidation about starting couples therapy, it can help to know what happens in a session. In an initial session, the counselor will seek to understand the core issues at play. She may speak with each partner individually or as a couple.

In the following sessions, the counselor will work with the couple to solve the issues at hand. This process can be frustrating, embarrassing, and sad, but the overall goal is always to get both parties to a better place.

No couples counselor will ever take sides in an argument. Their role is to be objective and supportive of the process as a moderator. A counselor may give couples assignments to work on at home.

If you think marriage counseling or couples therapy is right for you and your partner, contact us today. We will work to set you up with a counselor who can help you in your goals.