An Introduction To Couples Therapy: Part III How Couples Therapy Can Help

Last reviewed: April 11, 2023
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Categories: Couples
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couples therapy part 1

Does Couples Therapy Actually Help People?

It depends on what you mean by ‘help’. For instance, some people may want help to understand what would be best for themselves, or the whole family (if, say, kids are involved), and this might mean that they are open to the possibility of separation. Therapy sessions may indeed lead them to this conclusion. It is also important to realise that one person may be more open to this outcome than the other.

Ultimately, however, therapy can facilitate the process and minimise the hurt, possibly facilitating acceptance as well, which is helpful because essentially people can experience more positivity in the separation than they did in the marriage. Alternatively, it might be that a couple is on the verge of divorce and access therapy as a last resort, and through the process realise that that divorce would be premature because there is still something to be salvaged.

What Can Couples Counsellors Teach Me?

Relationship counsellors can help couples to understand the problems in their relationship and that relationships, like people, go through various developmental stages. When couples can identify where their relationship is in these stages, and understand that this is the normal trajectory, rather than pathologising the relationship, they can often work together to improve their relationship in a more realistic and helpful way.

Therapists can also help couples to notice other things that aren’t easily apparent. For example, another part of the problem might be the convenience and instant gratification culture we live in which predisposes us to a need for a quick fix, rather than putting in the energy and effort to work through difficult times.

What About Couples Who Have Been Struggling For Years?

It’s natural to feel pessimistic about the success of marriage counselling, especially when you have been struggling and feel like you have been stuck in a rut for so long. It is important though to realise that you and your partner can work on improving relationship satisfaction, and don’t have to struggle for years. Indeed, couples often develop repetitive, vicious cycles and patterns that are destructive and damaging to both partners’ mental health, and the relationship.

What do these cycles look like? We may all be familiar with one, or both of the following common patterns; withdrawing and avoiding conflict, or conversely, being confrontational, argumentative, and fighting with one another. The Gottman Method or Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) are forms of couples counselling that can help break these destructive cycles by identifying and working through them and helping couples move toward a more collaborative, intimate, and safe space.

How Long Does Couples Work Take?

Counselling work varies from one couple to the next, however, the kinds of things that impact the duration of relationship therapy include how motivated couples are. If couples are more motivated and have a sense of urgency about the situation, this will impact how fast they can work toward their goals.

But what happens when each partner has a different level of motivation or urgency? What if one thinks it will take weeks, and the other, years? This can actually be quite helpful because the partner who believes it will take less time may put in more effort in the first few weeks and surprise their partner, quelling their doubts.

Ultimately, for some couples, couples counselling can last a few weeks, for others a couple of months, and for some, years. So, if couples do not want to be in therapy too long, they have to be active and contribute to the process – in a true sense. It is up to couples how long they are in the process of therapy – you get out what you put in.

What Else Can Couples Therapy Do?

As you may have started to realise, couples therapy, when it works well can help couples to reveal the best of themselves, and thus help them to rediscover the things they loved about the other. It can help individuals to see things that they were unable to previously and improve communication by developing an understanding of how to speak to and listen to one another.

Next In The Series...

Look out for Part IV of this article which explains how to get the most out of the process of couples work!

Table Of Contents
Does Couples Therapy Actually Help People?
What Can Couples Counsellors Teach Me?
What About Couples Who Have Been Struggling For Years?
How Long Does Couples Work Take?
What Else Can Couples Therapy Do?
Next In The Series...
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Rehanna Kauser Private Therapist
About The Author
Rehanna Kauser, Psychologist
Rehanna has studied Psychology and Counselling Psychology at four UK universities. She enjoys working with individuals, couples, and families, and also loves learning, and writing. Having always been fascinated with the human mind and behaviour, her interests marry well with her naturally caring disposition, and affinity toward helping people.
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