When is couples therapy a good idea?
The fact that this question is so big highlights just how common it is for couples to attend therapy long after they should have. Given that many issues start off small, but snowball over the years into very significant obstacles in a relationship, it’s much better to address and deal with these issues early on.
The worst-case scenario is for one-half of the relationship to have an affair due to growing feelings of disconnect, only to then have the long-overdue therapy be dominated by the issue of infidelity. This can mean the small issues that were at the beginning of this snowball are ignored, making the symptom – not the cause – the point of conversation. Of course, a therapist’s job is to dig into this, but why make their job – and your relationship – as messy as possible?
What is couples therapy and how can it help?
Couples therapy is exactly what it sounds like: seeking therapy sessions with a therapist and your partner both present. Whilst therapy usually deals with problems focused on the self, like anxiety and depression, couples therapy is focused on the dynamics of your relationship. Of course, if self-contained problems are what’s causing issues in the relationship, this will be discovered and aired.
Common issues that drives people into couple counseling are: disconnection, an affair, regular conflicts, and issues relating to sex. However, they can be more specific or less specific – more serious or less serious.
Although there are various methodologies and approaches, such as Emotionally Focused Therapy, Gottman method, Psychodynamic couple’s therapy, and many others, the end result is ultimately to heal and strengthen the relationship. At the core of most methodologies is finding ways to empathize and recognize each other’s emotions and viewpoints, as well as refereeing a most productive environment for discussing issues – as many couples either ignore the issues or descend into shouting matches.
When should couples seek help?
You will never be turned away from therapy because there aren’t enough “real” issues. Almost always the opposite is true, where couples underestimate their issues and delay going longer than needed.
Any feelings of disconnect or recurring conflicts are going to be productively addressed at therapy. These are often the smaller signs that go ignored until a more obvious symptom arises such as an affair or considerations about separating.
Furthermore, couples therapy isn’t just for married couples who are trying to make it work for their kid’s sake either – it can be young couples who are in love, but are facing concerns around marriage and such. So in short, if you’re already considering therapy, that’s enough of a reason to just go for it.
What if a partner refuses the therapy – can you go on alone?
Now, going to therapy is going to help, regardless of the circumstances. So, there are just degrees to which the treatment will be effective – the better results are with couples who attend together, but absolutely solo therapy is better than none at all.
Solo therapy can still help one half of the relationship gain a better perspective and tackle issues in a better way. This can rub off on the partner, who may see the other lead by example when it comes to resolving issues down the line. You may learn certain techniques which can help during arguments, as well as highlight and deal with any personal problems that may be driving some of the relationship issues.
Finally, relationship counseling for singles / one person is actually possible too, for those who are not in a relationship. This is simply normal therapy but with a focus on your love life and ways you can find a partner in the future – something that is very effective and popular. It can also help you deal with rejection, loneliness, and ways to improve your chances at finding love.
Couples therapy online – is it effective?
Therapy, like all manner of services, has made the inevitable transition to the online world. Given that therapy is mostly conversational, there’s no reason for it not to be a remote, over-the-phone experience, and it is proven to be highly effective.
Either through voice alone or video call, you and your partner can connect to a qualified therapist from the comfort of your own home. Counseling for couples online has some benefits of its own as it can adapt to both you and your therapist’s lifestyle better, meaning fewer cancellations because you’re busy. Furthermore, online therapy is reliably cheaper than traditional therapy, yet is proven to yield the same results.
The nature of your therapy session will depend on the methodology that your therapist uses – though CBT is a highly common technique that is practiced by most. The session should follow a similar suit to traditional, in-house therapy, as there’s rarely anything more than just talking and note-taking.
All in all, given the heavy price discount of using online therapy websites (i.e. ~$50 per week instead of ~$60 per hour), it makes sense to take the more affordable and more accessible route. Though, if you have the time and money, there may be some unique benefits of attending a therapist in person, too.
Many, many couples have had their relationships survive and flourish all because of therapy. Some may consider the idea of “is it too late?” but this notion doesn’t really exist. Or rather, you never really know, because evidence shows that relationships can be fixed from even the most broken of states, after traumatic affairs and such.
Plus, even if the therapy doesn’t salvage the marriage, it can make the break-up more amicable and less hostile. This is not only important for your own mental health as to know how to move on, but it can completely transform the environment in which your child is raised. Remember, even if you (falsely) believe that the therapy cannot help you, just know that it is a reckless misjudgment to think that it cannot help your child.
And for those early on into a relationship, there’s nothing to lose from going to therapy but everything to gain. It goes beyond just the relationship you’re in now and helps us become a better person, which can serve us well into future relationships if the current one does fail.