Couples Counseling Q & A
by Dr. Brady, Psy.D
What is couples or marriage counseling?
Couples counseling, or marriage counseling, is exactly what it sounds like — a guided form of psychotherapy that allows partners to resolve areas of conflict in order to improve their relationship. Conflict areas may include aspects of communication styles, sexuality, and even how relationships with children affect the structure of the marriage. There are many different therapeutic approaches to effective couples counseling, but the care plan is generally shaped around the personalities and problems involved. For example, couples with children may benefit from parenting support, while couples struggling with stress may require a different emphasis.
What is the goal of couples counseling?
Most couples counseling works on a number of issues at once. It starts with identifying the view of the relationship and making sure everyone is on the same page. Dr. Brady helps the couple find a key objective as a couple and builds on them to change the views and bring the couple closer together.
The second step is to modify bad behavior because it is often the root of most problems. Dysfunctional behavior isn’t necessarily abusive, although that is 1 possibility. It might be the little things like leaving an empty carton of milk in the refrigerator that causes conflict. The point is to improve the relationship by identifying these problem points and find ways to modify those behaviors or make a compromise.
The main talking point during counseling is often emotional avoidance. Couples who seek treatment often find their partner is emotionally unavailable. The therapy is designed to get each member of the couple to open up and stay open with their feelings. Often that boils down to addressing problems with effective and concise communication. Couples that can’t talk to one another are bound to have relationship issues.
Does couples therapy work?
Professional counseling doesn’t work for everyone, but it does lead to changes, usually successful ones. The ultimate goal is to find a way for each couple to appreciate their partner and not take their relationship for granted. Therapy provides problem-solving tools that help get you there. Sessions may include private interviews with each partner or even homework assignments designed to help identify pain points in the relationship.
What if your partner won’t go to couples counseling?
Keep asking and don’t give up. That persistence may pay off eventually. If your partner won’t budge, then try individual therapy. That effort and the rewards from it might convince your spouse to try it, too.