How often does marriage counseling help

Couples therapy

What is couples therapy?

In the best of relationships, difficult situations can arise in which one can get stuck without outside help. Every phase of life brings challenges and tests the relationship.

Be it that the couple has children and suddenly there is hardly any time for romance, be it that work takes up too much space. Retirement also brings big changes. Couples therapy can also be useful if you have different ideas about the further course of the relationship.

In couples therapy, all problems and conflicts can be discussed openly with the therapist. The therapist remains impartial. This means that he empathizes with both positions, but does not take sides. The couple therapist not only focuses on the existing problems, but also explores the positive aspects of the relationship, which the couple usually no longer perceives in conflicts.

It is important to know that terms such as couples therapy, marriage counseling or couple counseling are not protected by law. It is therefore not always clear whether a couples therapist has received adequate training. The term psychotherapist, on the other hand, is protected and guarantees that the therapist has completed therapeutic training. Recognized therapy directions that are used in couples therapy are behavior therapy, psychodynamic and systemic therapy.

Although the effectiveness of couple therapy has been proven in some studies, the costs have not yet been reimbursed by health insurance companies. An exception is when a patient is receiving psychological treatment and the therapist includes the partner in the therapy for therapeutic reasons. Some social institutions also offer free couples counseling.

When do you do couples therapy?

Many couples find it difficult to step into couple therapy because it seems to prove that something is wrong in the relationship. Often this opportunity is only seized when the relationship threatens to fail and the couple can no longer see any other way. In fact, couples therapy can also be helpful in fundamentally intact relationships. For example, when topics keep coming up and cannot be fully clarified. The longer the conflicts last, the more difficult it is often to break these patterns.

Couples therapy is particularly important if the conflicts have a negative impact on everyday life and the partners' mental health. In this case, couples therapy can be the way out of a vicious circle that those involved cannot break alone.

The goal of couples therapy is not to save the relationship at any cost. Rather, it is about clarifying the different points of view, needs and goals in life. At the end of the day there can be the realization that it is better to break up.

Couple therapy: alone or together?

In couples therapy, both partners do not necessarily have to be present at all times. However, the advantage of joint couples therapy is that the therapist gets to know both perspectives. In addition, the couple can try out a different approach to each other during therapy.

However, sometimes there are issues that one does not want to discuss in front of the other partner. A common conflict issue is, for example, sexuality. Many find it difficult to communicate their sexual needs and ideas about sex to their partner. It gets even trickier when a partner wants to break up but doesn't dare to speak up. For such sensitive topics, the therapist arranges individual sessions with both people.

If the other partner is unwilling to work on the couple relationship, individual therapy can also be helpful. It is still cheaper if both are involved in the therapy process. In the best case scenario, the partner will join the sessions a few times during the course of therapy.

What do you do in couples therapy?

The content of couple therapy is geared towards the goals of the couple. This can be to improve the partnership, but it can also be to end the relationship. In the first session, the therapist clarifies with the couple what should be dealt with in couples therapy.

When it comes to strengthening the partnership, both partners need to be willing to work for the relationship. It is already a big step to clarify whether the partnership should continue or not.

In the next step, the therapist works out with the couple which conflicts contribute to the problems. Most of the time, both people see the blame on the other. You come to couples therapy with the hope that the partner will change.

Couples therapy, however, is not about bending the partner into shape. A partnership is always a two-way process. Both partners do their part. This essential realization is important in order for the couple to understand how conflict arises. Instead of changing the partner, the couple learns in therapy to develop more acceptance for one another.

Couples often have experiences in couples therapy that are initially unfamiliar. Suddenly it is no longer a question of defeating the other in an argument, but of showing yourself openly and thus also vulnerable.

When the underlying problems become clearer, the therapist can begin working with the couple on possible solutions. The focus then moves away from the problems towards the resources that a couple brings with them. Long conflicts contribute to the fact that the partners only perceive the negative sides of the other. The therapist therefore focuses attention on the positive qualities and abilities.

Between the therapy sessions, the couples can try out the possible solutions at home. In the following session, the therapist reviews progress and existing problems. In this way, the couple can find out, step by step, which solution will contribute to a better situation for both of them.

What are the risks of couples therapy?

Couples often seek help from a therapist when they are stuck in the relationship and they keep going in circles. Even if you want to break this cycle and long for changes, these do not always turn out in the desired direction. Couples therapy can also result in one or both of them wanting to end the relationship.

In couple therapy, very painful issues can also arise. If you notice strong fears or psychological problems after a therapy session, it is best to discuss these with the therapist in a one-on-one session.

Even therapists are only human and it can happen that the therapist consciously or unconsciously takes one side. If you feel disadvantaged in couples therapy, you should bring it up and, if in doubt, see another therapist. The therapist should make sure that the needs of both people are taken into account.

What do I have to consider after couples therapy?

Couples therapy doesn't work miracles. Even a very good therapist cannot change anything if the couple is unwilling to work for it. You should therefore be prepared for the fact that changes will take some time and effort.

There may be times that after the first few sessions you may feel worse at first. Because even if the condition before the couple therapy was not pleasant, the partners have got used to it. Couples therapy changes the dynamics and the couple has to face new challenges. Breaking new ground takes a little courage, especially at the beginning. If you feel overwhelmed at home, speak to your therapist about it. Also, get help from friends and family who can support you during this time.

How long couples therapy lasts is largely determined by the couple. Sometimes the problems have improved significantly after just a few sessions. Nevertheless, it can make sense to add a few more therapy sessions so that you don't fall back into old patterns right away.

If difficulties do return after a few weeks or months, another therapy session may be enough to deal with the situation. In any case, you shouldn't be afraid to get help again. It's perfectly normal for difficult situations to come up over and over again in relationships, in which one Couples therapy can be useful.

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