Are you wondering does couples counseling help or can therapy hurt your relationship? The answer is, it depends. Couples counseling can open up a can of worms, addressing issues that may have been swept under the carpet for years. If not handled delicately by a skilled professional, it can actually make your marriage worse. You’ve been managing until now, albeit unsuccessfully but the frustration you may feel of getting help and it not working can make it even worse. With that said, couples counseling can help, provided the following conditions:
Make sure you can check each of these off
1. Your therapist has advanced training an experience working with couples– You wouldn’t go to your general practitioner for brain surgery, so why would you go to a therapist you find online who doesn’t specialize in working with couples. While you may be able to save a little money, in the long run you’ll be paying much more in lawyer fees if your marriage doesn’t work, not to mention the emotional toll. Do your research and be confident that the therapist has the training and the know how to deal with your unique situation.
2. Your therapist will not take sides– For the success of your experience, it is crucial to have a safe atmosphere where neither party is blamed or shamed. If one feels on the defensive, he/she is not likely to trust the therapist, nor be open to what the other spouse has to say.
Couples counseling will allow you to:
3. Deal with the root cause– Every relationship has issues and if you spend all of your time trying to see who is right or wrong, you’ll get nowhere. Couples counseling that helps will enable you to discover the underlying issues that are contributing to your conflict. Instead of putting a band-aid on the problem, you’ll treat the issue at the root. You’ll want a therapist that can help you do that.
4. Safe conversations– If you are talking to the therapist about each other or are yelling and screaming at each other, therapy will likely be unhelpful. It is important for couples to learn how to have safe conversations so that issues can be dealt with in a structured fashion where one spouse learns how to talk to and listen to the other.
5. Focus on the positive- While you’ll undoubtedly focus on the problems in the relationship, good couples counseling will also help you cultivate an attitude of gratitude, training you to look for what’s right in the relationship. This does wonders to short circuit the negativity and take you back to the positive connection that may be buried under years of hurt and resentment.