Will Couples Counselling Help My Relationship?
Relationships rarely start out messy. The early stages of a partnership are when we’re the most engaged, patient, and thoughtful with one another. We’re excited by our partner, we listen to their desires and needs, and we try fun new things together.
Fast forward in time and what used to be a whirlwind of romance may have transformed into a frenzy of arguments or settled into a room temperature slump. You’re no longer trying new things, you may be snapping at one another, or you may see your partner as more of a roommate than a romantic figure.
As you settle into this new routine, you may wonder, what happened? Where did the magic go? Can we get it back?
Throughout my time as an intake specialist, I have seen couples come in for a variety of reasons. Some can’t seem to stop having the same arguments over and over again. Some experience issues with intimacy and have a hard time getting the passion back in their relationship. Others still have gone through a distressing experience, like infidelity or loss.
Many of them come in and ask, "Will therapy save my relationship? How can couples counselling help us? Does relationship therapy even work?"
In this article, I’ll shed light on some of your most pressing questions. We’ll dive into:
- How couples counselling can help your relationship
- How couples counselling works
- When couples counselling won’t work
How couples counselling can help your relationship
It’s discouraging to feel like you’re “failing” at your relationship, but couples counselling is a sign that you’re committed to making things work.
The fact is, couples who attend counselling are more likely to feel satisfied in their relationship. In fact, according to research, couples counselling positively impacts 70% of couples who attend.
So, how does couples counselling help? Relationship therapy can help couples develop:
- Better problem-solving skills without devolving into unhelpful arguments
- Better communication of one another’s needs, desires, and emotions
- Improved intimacy
- Better tools to navigate outside stressors (a big move, extended family, financial troubles, etc.)
- A more loving perspective of the other person
- More openness and honesty in the relationship
- A sense of mutual respect and support
- Forgiveness and healing
A couples counsellor is there to help you understand and communicate with one another in healthier, more honest ways. They will teach you relationship skills to express yourself, listen, and work together in ways you may not have considered before.
More than anything, couples counselling is about shifting negative patterns in your relationship.
To learn more about the issues couples counselling can help, check out the article Do I need Couples Counselling? 10 Signs It May Be Time.
How couples counselling works
While every couples therapist has a different approach, couples counselling has some common factors. Let’s talk about three things you can expect when you attend couple’s therapy:
1. Your counsellor will not take sides
Many people are hesitant to start therapy because they are afraid their therapist will take their partner’s side. I have talked with clients that worried if they attended couples counselling, they would be arguing against two people.
The truth is, regardless of your reason for coming in, a couples counsellor is not there to take sides. In fact, during therapy, the focus shifts from a “you versus me” dynamic into a “you and me versus our problems” one.
A therapist is there to help you and your partner build goals and address your issues cooperatively! They are not there to point out your flaws or criticize you.
2. You will get a more objective look at your issues
It may be hard to admit, but the truth is, most times both partners have clouded judgements about their roles in the relationship. You both likely feel justified in your approaches, but when you’re stuck in a bad routine for a long time, things get hazy for everyone.
A couples counsellor is an objective third party that can point out how you can both improve your communication, behaviours, and patterns, in a safe, non-judgemental space.
3. You get to the root of your problems
Most of the time, couples counselling is about getting to the root of your relationship problems.
Chances are when you get mad about your partner not doing the dishes, your real frustration comes from feeling exhausted. You may feel your partner is ignoring you, and they may not realize that you’re looking for affection. One of you may be looking for a listening ear after a hard day, and when the other immediately offers a solution, they feel unheard and belittled.
Miscommunication happens all the time in relationships, and a therapist can help peel back the layers and address what’s really going on.
When couples counselling won’t help your relationship
There are cases when couples counselling will not help your relationship. They include:
- You’re looking for direct answers
- You’re looking for a judge, not a therapist
- One or both of you are not committed to making changes
1. You’re looking for direct answers
Many of the couples that I’ve seen think that couples counselling is about receiving direct answers. Should we break up? Will we stay together?
I completely understand the desire to get straightforward responses from your counsellor. The truth is, however, that a relationship therapist’s job is not to decide things for you or to predict whether you’ll separate.
Couples counselling, like all counselling, is about helping the clients see more options than they did before.
They’re there to introduce new ways of relating to one another and to provide a perspective of what some of your underlying issues may be. Unfortunately, that journey is never black or white, and a counsellor is unable to tell you where you’ll end up.
If you’re looking for someone to tell you what you should do or how things will play out, couples counselling will not help.
2. You’re looking for a judge, not a therapist
A judge’s job in a courtroom is to decide who’s guilty and how they should pay. A therapist’s job is nothing like that. While some clients fear that their therapist and partner will team up against them, others hope that their therapist will ally with them during sessions. This is not what happens in a therapy room.
A couples counsellor’s job is to help both members understand the other’s experience so you’re better able to care for and empathize with them. There will be moments where one or both of you are encouraged to take accountability, but you will never be villainized during a couples counselling session.
If you’re looking for someone to side with you during a therapy session, couples counselling will likely be a disappointment.
3. One or both of you are not committed to making changes
As with all counselling, a therapist can only help you as much as you’re willing to work for it. If one or both of you are skipping sessions, showing up late, or not engaging during sessions, couples counselling will simply not help.
It’s not easy to be vulnerable during a session. If you’re:
- Having a hard time opening up
- Embarrassed or uncomfortable about a topic of discussion
- Having trouble communicating what it is you want to say
Talk to your therapist about it!
A couples counsellor can help you find ways to open up that feel safer and more comfortable. To learn more about what you can do if you feel like couples counselling isn’t working, check out the article Why Isn't Therapy Working?
Your next steps if you want couples counselling
Choosing to start couples counselling is never easy, but is often worth it.
Remember: reaching out to a couples counsellor is not a weakness, it is a sign you’re willing to put in the work to make things better.
Whether you choose couples counselling at KMA or not, we encourage you to pursue therapy if it feels like the right fit.
Not ready to do couples therapy but want to improve your relationship? Check out these articles: