Curious about the effectiveness of couples counseling and wondering if it is worth the investment? You are not alone. The other day my own partner asked me “Does couples therapy actually work?” As my partner, he knows how much reading and training I do to be a premier couples therapist. He knows my passion for helping couples reconnect and communicate effectively. However, having struggled in relationships before, he wonders “Does it actually work? Can couples counseling fix a relationship?” My answer to his question? Yes and no.
Three Reasons Couples Therapy Fails to Fix Relationships
Many people start couples counseling when saving the relationship is no longer an option. In my experience, both people need to commit to the process to rescue the relationship. Why? Couples counseling requires hard work on your part. My role as a couples therapist is to provide you and your partner with insight, guidance, feedback, and support. I can’t fix your relationship. I can only help guide you and your partner to do the work necessary to get it back on track. If one or both of you can’t invest in making changes, individual therapy might be what you need.
Another reason couple’s therapy is ineffective is that not every therapist is a couples therapist. They may advertise themselves as doing couples counseling but unless they have the training and experience, they may not be equipped to handle it. I have a master’s degree in Couple and Family Therapy and have done hundreds of hours of couples counseling. This makes Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs) uniquely qualified to do couples counseling. So, before choosing a couples therapist, find out about their graduate and post-graduate training. I want you and your relationship to have the best chance at success. My goal for my clients is epic relationships and awesome lives.
The final reason couples therapy doesn’t work is that you and/or your partner realize that this isn’t the relationship for you. I have worked with many couples where couples therapy has helped them realize that this relationship is not and cannot meet their needs. While this may seem like “failure,” it actually opens you and your (ex)partner up to other opportunities to have great relationships and amazing lives.
When Does Couples Counseling Work?
Couples counseling works when you and your partner are committed to the process and see a qualified professional. In my work, I help couples identify the patterns that are keeping them stuck. You know that fight you two keep having even though you get nowhere with it? We’ll figure out why you’re having it and how to break out of it.
I also help couples communicate in a way where they can hear and be heard by their partner. Many couples tune each other out when they argue. Instead of listening to their partner they are busy coming up with their counterpoint. Feels familiar, right? We’re going to try something new. Couples often come to therapy feeling unheard and unsupported. But, if you stick with it and do the work, you and your partner will complete treatment feeling connected and understood.
If you and your partner are having some struggles in your relationship but are both committed to working on it, couples counseling could be a good option for you. If you are in Evanston or the Chicago area, feel free to reach out to me to schedule a free consultation. Live in another location? Find a MFT near you who can help you get your relationship back on track.
One caveat, if you are feeling controlled and unsafe in your relationship, please seek help for yourself first. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is a good place to start.