What It Is, When You Might Need It, And What To Expect
When it comes to life experiences, overall happiness, and long-term well-being, relationships are hugely important. Humans are inherently social creatures, and nowhere is this made more clear than in our desire to form and maintain lasting relationships, particularly romantic ones. But just as life has its ups and downs, so do our relationships. It’s very normal to go through rough patches in a marriage or partnership, and getting help can often make a huge difference in both individuals’ quality of life. In this article, we’ll talk about what couples therapy is, when to seek it out, and what to expect from it.
What Is Couples Therapy?
Couples therapy is a type of psychotherapy, where a therapist (often a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, or LMFT for short) uses a variety of therapeutic techniques to help couples work through their challenges and find solutions. It’s usually short-term, taking place over the course of weeks or months. Couples therapy includes more specific subgenres like marriage therapy and premarital counseling and can go hand-in-hand with broader family therapy.
Couples therapy is for every couple! It can help married and unmarried couples, heterosexual and same-sex partnerships, young and old couples, new relationships, seasoned relationships, interracial partnerships, relationships with a large age gap, etc. Some issues that can be addressed during couples therapy include the emotional health of the relationship, sex and intimacy, infertility, navigating stressful life events together, infidelity, communication skills, frequent conflicts, issues with money, children, and more.
Your sessions will be specifically tailored to the needs and desires of you and your partner. Please note: couples therapy is an invaluable tool if you want to save your relationship, and that is certainly a goal that your therapist can help you and your partner work towards. However, there are instances where that may not be the best option, and your therapist will help you both explore the best course of action for the future.
When Do You Need Couples Therapy?
The answer is: if you’re thinking about it, there’s no harm in giving it a try! As we mentioned before, Couples Therapy is often short-term – you will only go for as long as your relationship needs it. This may translate to a one-session checkup during a difficult life transition, such as a move, the birth or adoption of a child, or a death in the family. Or, you may go for only a few weeks while you both learn and practice better communication skills.
Studies show that couples wait six years on average before seeking help. Don’t do this to yourself and your partner! As we said before, when in doubt, come in for a relationship checkup. As with physical health, it’s much easier to head off problems early before they grow, fester, and become ingrained habits that are harder to break.
On the flip side, it’s never too late to get help. Even if you think your relationship is hopeless, we encourage you to meet with a therapist. They can be a neutral but caring third party who will help you explore your options and move forward in a way that’s best for both of you.
What Happens During Couples Therapy?
First, your therapist will ask a couple of questions to get to know both of you better, including about your personal backgrounds and the history of your relationship. As therapy progresses, they will use a variety of techniques to address the underlying desires, emotions, and behaviors that shape your relationship and how you see each other. The therapist will help you both get better at identifying and expressing your feelings in ways that are constructive. They’ll also teach you how to communicate more effectively with your partner. Additionally, they’ll focus on changing problematic behaviors and replacing them with ones that are more constructive and will lead to more positive outcomes.
Remember, couples therapy is about finding solutions that are the best for the two of you. If both of you have a desire to save the relationship, your therapist will pull out all the stops to help you do that. If that’s not the case, then you will likely explore other options, including temporary or long-term separation, or even divorce.
If you have any questions about couples therapy, don’t hesitate to give us a call at (307) 631-5574!