Does Couple Therapy Really Work?
I have been asked this question so many times by friends or people I meet. There are some that tell me they have tried, and it was not successful. Others have said it was very eye opening, and it has helped them become not only better as a couple, but better as individuals. There are others that are curious and interested in trying. My answer to them: What do you have to loose?
I have had a lot of success with couples. Helping couples find love again after an affair or helping them find a way to communicate better, are just some examples. There were of course times that couple therapy was not effective. Couple therapy really only has a chance of working, if the following conditions must be present:
Both individuals must be motivated by love and a desire to regain some of that love. If either or even both want to use the session as a dumping ground for baggage rather than doing constructive work, sessions will not be very useful. If one person is not dedicated to the therapy and already has a foot out the door, chances are it will not be very successful. Couple therapy takes commitment.
Communication is key. Good communication is very hard and most people are not effective communicators. Especially, when they are emotional. Respect, openness, willing to listen and understanding is essential. Couple therapists will teach you different ways you can communicate effectively. Some people have a need to talk things out when they are angry, while others prefer to let their anger diffuse. Remember you are always communicating even if you are not talking. A therapist can help you find different ways to integrate your communication style.
Each person has their own perspective of the presenting problems in a relationship, but taking accountability is key. A therapist’s primary task is to act like a mirror and help each member understand each person’s role and responsibility in a problem. Additionally, a therapist will also help to create more understanding between the couple. If your goal of coming to therapy is to use it as a sounding board to be able to vocalize all the things that are wrong with your partner, rather than looking at it as a team approach, then little progress can be made.
A good couple therapist takes on different roles when working with couples. They take the role of an educator, a mediator, a therapist and a coach. Finding a good couple therapist is not easy and just like with any type of therapy, both have to feel that there is a good fit. Since a lot of problems also involve sex it is recommended to seek out someone that also has a background in sex therapy. Doing your research is key to finding a good therapist.
In couple therapy you will be asked about your point of view. I have seen some people overpower others and give them a lot of self-doubt. It is important to be able to trust yourself first and then someone else. Doubt may always creep in as you learn more about yourself, but never let someone tell you how you should think. A therapist’s job is to give you tools to help you solve your own problems, not to tell you how you should think.
Be patient. Couple therapy is like any other type of therapy, it takes time. But, just like individual therapy, change can happen after the first session. Sometimes just talking about your history, helps to create some form of change.
Don’t compare yourself to your best friends or your neighbors. Comparison does not take into account your own individuality. Everybody has a different background and history. We all carry emotional baggage. Some of it may be processed, and some of it may need help.
Couple therapy is helpful for identifying underlying negative patterns in the relationship. But, it may happen that you notice that you need to work on some things on your own. It is ok to do so. Therapy is useful for everyone. The strongest of people work on themselves, to better themselves. The stronger sense of self you have, the better partner you will be.
Be prepared to change yourself. Your partner cannot change the way you are. They can influence you, but change comes from within. This may mean that you have to alter your expectations, hopes, and desires.
Practice is crucial. Every type of tool that you learn in therapy take time to learn and implement. Don’t give up after one try.
The way to create a long lasting and happy relationship is not by fixing what is wrong. It is a good start but will not create the end result that you want.
Accept that good relationships take work and a lot of patience. Accept that you are not perfect and that your partner will do things their way, rather than your way.
Trying to change someone will never work, it does not matter how much you try. Change comes from within. Learn to love yourself and recognize your triggers and your own flaws. You will at times judge and be judged. That is ok, as long as it does not consume you.
There are times where you will want to throw in the towel. Often times, these moments come because you think the grass is greener on the other side. Reality check: if you are having specific problems in your current relationship, chances are this can creep back into future relationships.
Learn to trust your gut and your boundaries. Do you have weak, strong or too many boundaries? Do you confused these with expectations? Some people tend to have too many expectations. On the other hand, some people have none at all and let the relationship progresses to a point were it consumes them. Get to know yourself and know what you are ok with. Make sure your voice is heard.
All relationships have its ups and downs. Those that don’t are usually dull and lifeless. Fights and misunderstandings are normal but so is being happy, laughing together and having fun together. It is about balance.
If you would like help with your relationship or need help in understanding yourself better, contact us today for a free phone consultation.