Although the U.S. divorce rate is the lowest since...
Although the U.S. divorce rate is the lowest since 1970, many people in relationships still encounter problems.(1) A healthy relationship requires good communication, conflict resolution, and problem-solving skills. These are the skills that can be developed, not something that comes naturally when a couple falls in love. Finding couples therapy nearby gives people in relationships a resource to help develop these skills.
What Is Couples Therapy?
Couples therapy is a type of group therapy that focuses on improving relationships. Counselors help couples work through challenges, develop healthier ways of relating to one another, and communicate more effectively. Couples therapy is available to people in various relationships, including same-sex and opposite-sex, dating or married, and monogamous and nonmonogamous.
This type of therapy is typically short-term. Couples learn techniques that improve their relationship. They can then take these strategies back home and use them to work through future problems. In some cases, therapists help couples overcome specific challenges they’re struggling with.
Despite the focus on short-term assistance, couples can attend couples therapy for longer periods of time. It depends on how much help the relationship needs. Some couples also like to have regular check-ins with a therapist to help keep their relationship healthy. There are many ways to make your relationship work, and couples therapy can help.
Therapists are Standing By to Treat Your Depression, Anxiety or Other Mental Health Needs
Explore Your Options Today
What To Expect From Couples Therapy?
Professionals trained to get to the bottom of relationship issues provide couples therapy. The exact method depends on the type of therapy and the therapist’s philosophy. Common strategies include:
- Getting to know each other: Understanding themselves and their partner better
- Identifying feelings: Recognizing emotions and putting them into words
- Exploring the past: Understanding fears and motivations
- Focusing on solutions: Resolving issues and focusing on the positives in the relationship
- Teaching skills: Learning anger management, problem-solving, and conflict resolution, along with other important skills
Many methods use questionnaires, worksheets, and homework to help people build their relationship skills. The skills learned during couples therapy give people the tools to deal with issues as they arise.
A skilled couples therapist also looks for other issues. For example, although depression can look like relationship dissatisfaction, it’s a separate condition that can respond to treatment. Often couples also attend individual therapy sessions to work through their own issues.
Does Couples Therapy Work?
Research has found that couples therapy helps alleviate relationship distress and individual depression.(2) It has also been shown to build greater trust and forgiveness in relationships where there’s been an emotional injury, such as infidelity.(3)
Despite the positive findings, therapy isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s crucial to find the right therapist to get the most benefits from counseling.
Success also looks different to different couples. Although most people consider success in couples therapy to be fixing a marriage, it can also be the opposite. In some cases, the best outcome is learning that a relationship isn’t working and getting help to end it amicably.
How To Find a Couples Therapist Near Me
Couples therapists can market themselves under different titles, including couples counselors, marriage counselors, and marriage therapists. A trained, licensed clinician has one of the following certifications:
- Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)
- Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)
- Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
Organizations such as the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) have lists of licensed therapists around the country.(4)
Couples should take time to find someone they both feel comfortable with. It’s essential to consider the options and make a decision together. Couples are more likely to continue going to someone they like, and people who continue therapy get the most benefits.(5) Those in a polyamorous, BDSM, or LGBT relationship may worry that a therapist won’t understand their dynamic, so it’s important to ask about a counselor’s values and experiences working with specific communities.
Sign Up for Online Couples Therapy
Online therapy is an attractive option for many couples. It saves time, and people with young children don’t have to find childcare during sessions. As individuals can dial in from different locations, it’s also perfect for those in long-distance relationships.
Fortunately, there are many companies that offer online counseling, such as BetterHelp, Talkspace, Calmerry, and Amwell. Before signing up for a platform, check the licensing requirements of their practitioners. Read through the policies to understand the price of sessions and whether they accept health insurance. Online counseling platforms often match couples with a therapist based on a questionnaire, so there’s less chance of choosing a professional they feel comfortable with. In these cases, make sure it’s possible to change therapists.
Investigating the technology and session formats a company uses is also important. Common formats include phone, online chat, and video sessions. It’s essential that the technology used is HIPAA-compliant. HIPAA is the federal law that governs the privacy and security of personal health information in the U.S.
There are plenty of reviews of the various platforms to help couples find the right option. Read about the techniques used and their counseling philosophy. It can also be helpful to ask friends, family, or people on social media if there’s a particular platform they recommend.
Find In-Person Couples Counseling Near You
People looking for in-person counseling should also be diligent about finding a properly licensed person who accepts insurance. Many health insurance companies provide lists of their in-network providers, which can be a good place to start. Finding a couples therapist nearby often begins with an online search for practitioners in the couple’s city or state.
Today, many therapists have a social media presence on platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, or TikTok, where they share tips and advice with their followers. This gives insight into their personality and approach, helping couples decide if they’re the right therapist for their needs.
Types of Couples Therapy
Different therapeutic approaches work with different couples. That’s why there are so many types of therapy. Some therapists use techniques from a number of methods, while others specialize in one type of therapy.
Researching techniques can help couples identify what resonates with them. Then they can seek a therapist who uses this approach. Below are some common couples therapy options.
The Gottman Method for Relationship Counseling
Dr. John Gottman and Dr. Julie Schwartz Gottman developed the Gottman Method. It focuses on addressing areas of conflict, equipping partners with problem-solving skills, and improving the quality of friendship between couples.
The doctors’ research guides the method. They claim 69% of relationship problems are never resolved due to differences in personality.(6) Their therapy helps people learn to navigate the emotions these differences bring up and replace negative conflict patterns with healthy ones.
The Gottman Method has been described as rigorous and intense. Therapists provide actionable steps, and patients must continue working outside therapy sessions. During therapy, couples begin building Gottman’s nine elements of a healthy relationship, known as the Sound Relationship House:
- Build love maps: Know each other’s world
- Share fondness and admiration: Express appreciation and respect to grow a fondness
- Turn toward instead of away: Be aware of each other’s needs and respond to them
- The positive perspective: Use a positive approach to problem-solving
- Manage conflict: Relationship conflict is natural, but it’s important to know how to manage it
- Make life dreams come true: Talk to each other honestly about hopes, dreams, convictions, and aspirations
- Create shared meaning: Understand the narratives of the relationship
- Trust: Each person acts to maximize their partner’s best interests, not just their own
- Commitment: Believing and working on the belief that the relationship is a lifelong commitment
Imago Relationship Couples Counseling
Imago relationship counseling believes a person’s childhood experiences can impact adult relationships. It combines spiritual and behavioral techniques with Western psychological methods to provide people with tools to relate to their partner in healthier ways.
The word Imago comes from the Latin word for image. The name refers to the images of love and relationships that people build during their childhood. It’s believed that this idealized concept of love remains unchanged in adulthood. Any specific behaviors the child developed to obtain love are still present when they enter adult relationships. This can include both positive and negative behaviors.
The five core principles in Imago relationship counseling include:
- Reimagining a partner as a wounded child
- Re-romanticizing the relationship via pleasurable surprises, gifts, and displays of appreciation
- Restructuring disappointments and frustrations by changing complaints into requests
- Resolving feelings of extreme anger
- Re-visioning the relationship as a source of happiness, satisfaction, and safety
As this form of therapy focuses on reestablishing loving relationships, it may not be suitable for couples experiencing domestic violence, substance dependence, or similar issues.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Couples
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, is a common therapy technique that aims to identify and change thoughts that have a negative impact on behavior. It can treat a wide variety of personal and relationship issues.
CBT for couples differs from CBT used for individuals, as it works with three distinct entities. The counselor treats each person as an individual, and the couple is also seen as a unique entity. The therapist watches the couple interact and helps them identify cognitive distortions and work through distress.
In CBT, cognitive distortions are faulty or inaccurate thoughts that lead to negative behaviors. An example of a cognitive distortion in a relationship is one person assuming they know what their partner is thinking. Humans can’t read minds, so this cognitive distortion can lead to misunderstandings and arguments.
CBT helps couples identify these distortions and unpack negative thoughts. Then the couple can work together to reframe negative thoughts into positive thoughts and behavior.
Religion-Based Couples Therapy
Religion-based couples therapy is also known as faith-based counseling. It looks at marriage through the lens of faith and suggests strategies and solutions that align with a person’s religion. It may be a good choice for highly religious couples who want a counselor who shares their spiritual values.
Religion-based counseling may be entirely religious or sometimes may incorporate secular psychological techniques. Another distinction between faith-based counseling and secular therapy is that practitioners may not have formal psychiatric or psychological education. Religious leaders, such as priests, imams, or rabbis, provide pastoral counseling. This type of assistance doesn’t require a license, and unlicensed counselors may not be able to recognize or assist with mental illnesses. However, there are some professional psychologists who integrate spirituality or religion into their practice.
Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy
Emotionally focused couples therapy (EFCT) is a structured, short-term approach that aims to improve attachment and bonding between partners.(7) Over eight to 20 sessions, therapists help couples understand and change the patterns that lead to feelings of disconnection.
The basis of EFCT is the theory of attachment, which highlights the role of emotion in attachment and relationships. It states that secure attachment is a lifelong need that leads to a strong sense of physical and emotional safety.
EFCT focuses on interactions in sessions rather than extensive worksheets and homework. This may make it more palatable for some couples. Emotionally-focused therapy is also used in individual and family counseling. In addition to aiding people who feel general dissatisfaction, it can help couples with specific challenges in their relationship. These challenges may include a person struggling with depression, PTSD, a history of sexual abuse, or health challenges, such as cancer or heart disease.
The Benefits of Couples Therapy and Marriage Counseling
The most successful marriage counseling helps couples communicate and resolve conflict in healthier ways. This can lead to the following:
- Greater connection with each other
- Greater security in the relationship
- Better understanding of each other
- Stronger friendship and attachment to each other
- Deep intimacy
- Ability to identify and work through relationship issues
- Improved relationship satisfaction
Attending relationship counseling can also improve individual mental health. Couples therapists can identify clinical mental health conditions and help individuals find treatment. This type of therapy also teaches people skills that can enhance relationships in all parts of life. Healthier attachments between friends, parents, children, and colleagues, all lead to a happier outlook. Learn more about how to get the most from your couples therapy.
Read In Order Of Posting