Written by: Dr. Gloria Lee, Registered Psychologist
How do you know if you and your partner need couples counselling? How does it help and what does it entail?
I get asked this question a lot. Just you asking this question tells me that you’ve considered couples counselling because the problems you are experiencing are beyond you, and you need outside help.
The psych-illogical thing is, most couples wait between 7 to 10 years before getting help, thus, causing and perpetuating more pain in the relationship than necessary.
Most couples first try to suck it up, get advice from friends and family, wait and see, or “do it yourself” (DIY) instead of getting help when things start to get bad.
So how do you know when you need couples counselling?
Couples counselling may not be for everyone. But it can be helpful for most couples, even if you are not always fighting. But first, let me note what may be contraindicative to effective couples work:
- When one or both partners are actively having an affair and have no plans to stop.
- When one or both partners are abusing substances. You’ll need to address this issue prior to or alongside couples therapy.
- When couples are dealing with domestic violence. This needs to be addressed first.
- When one or both partners have a serious mental illness. This may involve other interventions prior to or alongside couples therapy.
If these areas are not a presenting concern, then you and your partner are likely good candidates for couples counselling.
You may need couples counselling if:
- You have attempted to address issues, but they blow up into arguments and often don’t get resolved.
- Your relationship seems blah, you feel disconnected with your partner, and it feels like you are co-existing as roommates.
- You avoid talking about anything serious for fear that it will escalate into another fight.
- You wish you had the skills to communicate effectively with your partner and resolve problems.
- You and your partner have different needs and neither of you feel like you’re getting your needs met.
- You argue in circles, leaving you feeling exhausted, defeated, and deflated.
- You or your partner are contemplating ending the relationship.
Couples counselling will help you address these and other issues that prevent you from having the relationship that you want. In a nutshell, the process typically entails:
- Assessing the couples presenting concerns.
- Understanding the problem from both people’s perspectives.
- Analyzing the root causes of the problem and extracting typical themes from fights.
- Helping each partner see their part in the problem, what their triggers are, what feelings arise, and what the unresolved needs are which lead to typical outcomes.
- Addressing the areas above, bringing awareness and skills to shift the negative cycle, change behaviour, and transform into a new positive and effective cycle.
- Practicing and tweaking until you can confidently do this on your own and be able to finally discuss issues that are easily resolved without conflict.
I hope this will encourage you to seek couples counselling if you need it. Remember, most couples wait 7 to 10 years before seeking help. May you find the courage to reach out sooner and start having the relationship you love now!
If you’d like more information about couples counselling and how it may benefit you, contact us at Brentwood Counselling Centre today.