Is your relationship or marriage going through a rough patch? Have you been racking your brain (and heart) trying to find answers? If so, you’re not alone. Thousands of couples go through challenging times due to many reasons: infidelity, anger issues, continual arguing that goes nowhere – just about everything. Daily life can take a toll on individuals, and when you take that stress home, it can be compounded by a relationship in peril.
Many couples decide to go to couples counseling for help, ideas, or just to find a reason to stick it out.
A good question that comes up a lot is, does couples counseling work? What kinds of things should you consider? Read on to see the facts, so you can make an educated decision.
What do the patients say?
The American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists weighs in on this, reporting that more than 98% of couples that have been to couples therapy say they are highly satisfied with the outcome, and that they got the help they were looking for. Additionally, respondents reported an overall boost in their physical health and cognitive functioning just from the benefits of the counseling.
Since many couples are having financial woes which may or may not be a part of their issues, it’s a very valid concern to wonder if they can even afford counseling in the first place. Adding to their financial obligations is just another problem they would have to deal with.
Thankfully, there is a less expensive way to approach this. Going to see a licensed family and marriage therapist is considerably less expensive than seeing a psychologist or psychiatrist (plus, psychiatrists are M.D.s, so they usually are the go-to doctors for getting psychotropic medications, not counseling).
The first thing to do is check with your insurance provider to see what options are out there. Go in armed with the knowledge that using a marriage therapist can be up to 40% less than a psychologist or psychiatrist.
Also, there are numerous counseling centers that offer therapy on a sliding scale basis based on income and financial need.
It goes without saying that we are all pressed for time today. It’s very common for couples to both work full-time, plus when you add in obligations such as parenting, errands to run, bills to be paid, meetings to attend – well, time is a precious commodity.
So it is understandable to be concerned about the time commitment required. However, taking your relationship off the back burner, and making it a top priority is essential to repairing it.
The good news is that according to statistics, couples therapy is typically a lot faster (and still just as effective) than stand alone, individual therapy. The studies show that it takes a third fewer counseling sessions to reach a goal with your couples therapy than with individualized therapy.
When should you seek counseling?
The sooner the better! Before you even get married, it that is in your future as a couple. Premarital counseling is always a great idea so that major life issues can be planned and discussed, possibly defusing future clashes over hot topics.
When the skies get cloudy in your relationship – married or not – it’s probably ideal to err on the side of caution; if you wait until the crack in the union becomes a full blown crater, one or both of you could already have a “why bother” attitude. This kind of emotional block makes it far more difficult to find a happy middle ground to make the repairs needed.
What is your role in the process?
Undoubtedly, it take more than a good, affordable, and time-friendly counselor to get your relationship back on track. Equally – if not more – important is your own role in the process of putting the pieces back together.
So how can you increase the success of your counseling experience?
Work on YOU
Without taking a “blame game” stance, it’s fair to say that, regardless of how much you think your partner is the problem (and they may well be), the fact is, you cannot control another person. You can only control your reaction to them. You can control how you approach them, and with what kind of attitude. Note the theme of “you” here.
If making your relationship secure, loving and successful is your goal – go into the counseling experience armed with questions about what you personally can bring to the table.
If you can imagine the kind of partner you would like to be, under the ideal circumstances (perhaps go back in your memory to the beginning of your relationship), then how would you describe yourself? What is the “ideal you” in the relationship?
Bring those ideas and goals into your counseling sessions.
In the final analysis, if you want to know the answer to the question “does couples counseling work” – the answer is yes – if you work along with it.