“Does couples therapy work?” is quite a common question today that haunts more than 45% of married couples at some point in their ever-evolving relationship. If you are too one of them, let us clear the fog once and for all that couples therapy is no magic wand. That does not mean it is not effective. It is quite helpful, for sure. However, stepping into your counselor’s chamber with all those Harry Potter fantasies in mind will leave you disappointed.
It is essential to understand that couples therapy works on the principles of science, i.e., psychology. It consists of a number of joint counseling sessions depending on the type of issues you and your partner are facing. All these sessions are moderated by your therapist, who closely looks into every single aspect of your conflicts, tries to resolve them, and helps you two rekindle the old flame of love. So, essentially, in other words, couples therapy is a treatment process designed to resolve relationship issues faced by a couple in their relationship.
A recent study by MidAmerica Nazarene University reveals that over 45% of married couples seek couples therapy.
Now let’s return to the original question with which we started our journey today.
Does couples therapy work?
Yes. It does. Couples therapy or marriage counseling is one of the most effective solutions to resolve issues in marriage. Not just it. There are several other benefits of going to therapy, which we will discuss in this complete guide to couples therapy later.
The research was conducted recently to check whether these so-called couple therapies are effective or not. This research revealed that around 70% of couples who undergo couples therapies had a positive impact. In fact, for many of them, marriage counseling turned out to be a difference marker. It helped many choose new possibilities in their relationship over exploring other options, such as walking down the road to splitsville.
So it is clear that it works, but how? Let’s check that out in our next section.
How does couples therapy work?
Couple therapy aims at resolving the root of the problem in a relationship. In this quest, therapists leverage the principles of science and psychology to help a couple come to an agreement of starting a new life over mutually. These therapies serve as a tool to help a couple communicate their feelings, emotions, and thoughts with their partners.
Moderated by a professional therapist, these discussions between two married individuals allow them to learn about ways to deal with their emotional conflicts healthily. Once you know the root cause of the problem, you begin to follow practices that gradually help rejuvenate the old love between you two. The idea is to give you tools to open up while also making you give up on the fears that hold you up in your space.
Counseling is not just about giving space but also about knowing each other’s space and respecting it from the bottom of the heart.
According to the famous relationship therapist Jaime Bronstein, you don’t need to be in any sort of trouble to start going to couple therapies. You can do it whenever you feel like enhancing your connection with your partner.
Let’s understand the point Bronstein is trying to make here.
When you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, you start jogging on your physician’s recommendation and do other forms of exercise, including Yoga and meditation. It helps lower high blood pressure, for sure.
But what if you consistently did all these exercises from the beginning? Maybe, you would have never developed diseases related to blood pressure at all.
So that is the idea behind the concept of couple therapy. It should rather be perceived as an exercise to keep a relationship always in the pink of its health.
What to expect from couple therapy?
Couple therapy can be an entirely new concept for many of you. If you have not explored it before, then you may also have bees of curiosities flying inside and out of honey hives
So to clear the air a bit, couples therapy may not always have to be the same for every couple. It may differ from one couple to another depending on the type of problems they are going through and so will be the treatments.
Ideally, marriage counseling starts off with the evaluation phase. Your therapist may choose to do it with you both together and/or separately. Sometimes, individuals want to discuss their concerns privately, irrespective of how sensitive they are. In such a scenario, your therapist may choose to do the first few sessions with you separately.
If all the aforementioned possibilities are ruled out, your therapist may want to do the counseling with you both. Couple of therapy sessions is generally an hour or two long. You may have to visit your therapist once a week or two, depending on the situation you are facing.
What do you learn during marriage counseling?
As we have already explored, during marriage counseling, couples come to terms with their own issues in their relationship and choose to deal with them healthily.
Apart from this, they learn many new skills to manage the highs and lows in their relationship on their own. We have listed a couple below for your quick reference:
- Effective communication skills
Marriage counseling helps a couple enhance their ways to communicate with each other. This leads to exchanging of thoughts and emotions in a way one can easily feel.
With the help of marriage counseling, a couple learns ways to stay truthful to each other.
Judging and criticizing are the two most common traits among couples that lead to a fire in the love island.
You lose the purpose of having each other in life with time. Couples therapy helps you discover the purpose back.
The concept of marriage counseling is not restricted to just the four walls of a therapist’s chamber. One or two sessions a week are enough to keep you on track in the relationship. However, it is these six or five days that matter the most in your counseling journey. On these days, you apply all the learning you have received from your therapist.
Therapists often advise couples to perform specific exercises as homework to help them stay connected with the process. A lot of people fail to invest in the process as they feel detached. So to keep them motivated all the time, marriage counselors suggest the following exercises:
- Therapists often advise their clients to take some time out of their busy schedules and gift each other moments of intimacy.
- Communication is the key to keeping a relationship in the pink of health. So implementing all the best practices related to communication is a great way to go when not seeing a therapist.
- Not just communication but also active listening is equally important to keep a relationship healthy. So pay attention to the needs of your partner. Listen to their thoughts.
According to Bronstein, putting learning into action is the way a couple can get most of the counseling sessions.
Experts believe that marriage counseling works the most when couples willingly enter into an agreement to rejuvenate their marriage. It should not be a forced step for anyone of them. Individuals should be keen on learning new things and applying them in their daily lives.
How to ask your partner to go see a marriage counselor?
Asking your partner to join you for couple therapy is scarier than all scary movies combined. In fact, many people think it often leads to divorce. So how do you really pop a question so feared?
According to a study, only 66% of women think their partners will not mind joining them for relationship therapy.
The famous author of the book titled For Better, For Worse, Forever, Beatty Cohan, suggests that one should never approach the topic as something that needs work. Do not discuss it as a disease that needs treatment. These approaches will naturally put your partner on the defensive. Arguments will ensue, and things you are scared of will happen. Instead of doing any good, the very idea of going to a marriage counselor will rip things apart in your love island.
Cohan advises people to approach the topic with their partners to strengthen their relationship with each other. Traveling around the globe and exploring a new world with your partner strengthens your bond. Going out on candle dinner or for movies and plays all help a relationship become even stronger. That should actually be the idea behind couples therapy when popping the miracle question to the love of your life.
Show your excitement as to how relationship counseling can help you find the hidden gems of marital bliss. The author, in her book, further suggests discussing how even the greatest athletes have coaches to help improve their performance. Even the top business giants have teams to guide their organizations to stay ahead in the competition. Having a marriage counselor by your side can help you prepare in advance for problems in the future and find a way to deal with them without putting any type of stress on your relationship. Couples therapy is an insurance policy against tough times.
So the answer to the “does couples counseling work?” question is that it obviously does. If you put your learning into action, you begin to transform your relationship with your partner quite significantly over a period of time. These sessions heal you from within, provided you, too, are invested in the process and willing to make a difference.
Just like any other milestone in one’s life, relationship strengthening requires much effort and dedication. Always remember that couple therapists are your resources to help you navigate your life without stress.