Believe it or not, it is not only couples that are afraid of marriage counseling there are many therapists out there who are terrified of working with couples and rightfully so. What if they fight in the office? How can I stop the escalation? Who does the talking and to whom? Couples, themselves, are just as afraid to go to counseling. Who will have to “give in” to the other? Whose side will the therapist take? Will counseling stir up more problems? Does marriage counseling work? These concerns are quite valid as this is what traditional marriage counseling often can look like.
Couples Counseling Techniques that Make Marriage Counseling More Effective
Besides requiring a different skillset and protocol, working with a couple necessitates a paradigm shift. The relationship needs to be conceptualized in an entirely different way. No, it is not about negotiating a compromise!
Relationships are an opportunity for growth and healing. When a couple begins to understand what is going on in their relationship, they actually learn more about themselves as individuals.
By learning more about why you get angry and what is triggering, you are actually one step closer to being more self-aware.
The conflict that you are experiencing actually enables you to grow.
My job is to promote healing, for you and your spouse so you can understand what is really going on in your marriage, and to teach you skills to create safe, loving, and long-lasting relationships.
What to expect in counseling with The Marriage Restoration Project
Instead of getting caught up in just fixing problems, I focus on helping couples fix their relationship. Anyone who has been married knows that there will always be issues that arise in a relationship. As the relationship heals, the problems also get resolved. Couples fix their relationship by becoming conscious about what is really going in their marriage and within themselves not by an agreement and compromise, then concede approach.
More inspiration on your question, “Does marriage counseling work?”:
- What is the marriage counseling success rate of some of the best marriage counselors?
- Marriage counseling making it worse
- The man that started it all. Harville Hendrix and the gift of Imago therapy.
- How to make sure marriage counseling will work for you
So, does marriage counseling that works actually exist?
In Imago therapy, most couples start to see hope in their marriage by the end of our first 90-minute session. They are introduced to a refreshing new way of relating to each other where they both feel understood and heard, many for the very first time ever.
While it is not magic and couples need to commit to engaging in the process and put in the work, the results are worth the effort.
If you do put in the work, and are committed to achieving a total transformation for your marriage, you absolutely CAN and WILL achieve amazing success in our 2 Day Marriage Restoration Retreat. That’s due to the program we take you through, the work is already done for you, all you need to do is show up and be committed to experiencing the process. Talk with us today if you’re committed to saving your marriage and if the 2 Day Marriage Restoration Retreat would be a good option for your situation. Chances are it will and the results will be spectacular for your home, your family, your kids, and yourselves!
Marriage Counseling Effectiveness Q&A
Let’s address the reservations you may have about going to marriage counseling. Skip to a question in the list below to jump to the answer.
This is one of the most common questions I receive from prospective couples but unfortunately, there is no right answer because relationships are unique and the quality of therapy varies tremendously.
The real fear driving this question is…
“Why would I waste my time with years of therapy if the therapy isn’t going to work to save my marriage?”
The fear of years of therapy, not to mention the cost, is a strong deterrent for couples to get the assistance they so desperately need. If you knew that marriage counseling was definitely going to work for you, would you dedicate some time to getting the help your relationship really needed? Why would I waste my time with years of therapy if the therapy isn’t going to work to save my marriage?
Of course, you would. I also did not believe therapy was very helpful until I learned of Imago therapy. Why? I’ve witnessed a lot of marital therapy that didn’t work and actually had made things worse. (I’ve written more about that here) There are also many therapists out there that practice marriage counseling but have no specialized training in marital therapy other than a general degree in something like social work or clinical psychology.
All of that changed when my wife and I started learning about Imago. Imago was my first experience with marriage counseling (I had studied other modalities in school). When I was in school and we had our first child, we experienced some tension and wanted to go see a marriage counselor. We went to an Imago therapist and after the first session, we were blown away.
Although we went in experiencing some conflict, we left the session feeling like we were newlyweds. As we continued our sessions, my wife and I noticed the remarkable connection we once again felt towards each other. It really wasn’t so much about the issues that we were working on but how we worked on them and our desire to be connected.
After seeing how well we responded to the sessions, I decided to finish my degree in counseling psychology and go on to pursue specialized training in marriage counseling. I became an advanced clinician in Imago therapy and I now spend my day helping couples achieve the same success my wife and I experienced.
Does Marriage counseling work?
One couple came to me after thirty years of marriage. The wife told me that their last therapist would always side with her over her husband. She had to tell the therapist not to side with her as she knew that she could not possibly always be right! They were open to Imago, tried it, and it transformed their marriage.
Many other couples made the shift from typical marriage counseling to Imago therapy and after they experienced the profound difference that Imago had for them over other forms of marriage counseling, they were then able to see and report how bad their experience was over the years! They admitted that the other form of marriage counseling was actually more harmful than helpful. More than one couple admitted to me that they would walk out of the room feeling worse than they came in. Does that ever happen to you?
Couples that practice Imago therapy walk out of the sessions feeling lighter than they did when they walked in. There is no blame or shaming of each other. No yelling or fighting. In fact, towards the end of one session, one wife commented that she was concerned that this session she would leave feeling worse about her husband than when she arrived. This was particularly alarming because, after a year of weekly sessions with another therapist, this would be the first time she did not leave the session feeling better about her husband than when she walked in.
Even if you’re a person that has gone to marriage counseling with another therapist and it didn’t work, or you’re one half of a couple that has to drag your spouse along unwillingly, the bottom line for all of these couples is to have an open mind and to be able to trust the process. Trust that your marriage can be better. Trust that Imago is effective because you have read testimonials from successful couples. Finally, trust that the process is safe and that if you commit to doing it, it can work.
Does marriage counseling work for all couples and how long does it take?
Although every couple is different, I recommend twelve consecutive weekly sessions. Just like learning how to ride a bike, learning the skill of the Imago dialogue takes time before it becomes natural. Weekly sessions show commitment to this work. (Obviously, there are scheduling considerations, though motivated couples usually find a way to get there). I have found that couples who miss a week here, two weeks there, are really not committed to the process. And although they may have good reasons for not coming, including unconscious fears, they are not as successful as my weekly clients. In fact, they are almost always the ones who ask me, “why isn’t this working?”
Remember, sometimes it has to get worse before it gets better. After the initial sessions, which are usually a breath of fresh air, couples begin to feel safe enough to talk about the real issues. This can be difficult and even painful and the walls of resistance can be quickly resurrected. The key is to stick it out.
I have had couples where they were coming weekly and it seemed like we were going nowhere until finally, we made a breakthrough. The consistent sessions allowed that momentum to build.
Everyone wants fast results, and although twelve weeks seems like a long time. The momentum builds and couples that come weekly, in the beginning, see faster results and leave therapy sooner. I have no intention to retain clients for life. My job is to empower you to learn the skills so you can do it on your own.
After twelve sessions, couples may come on a bi-weekly basis, monthly, or they may leave altogether or return for periodic check-ins.
Every couple is different and I trust you to know what you need to get for your relationship and I trust that you will leave when you got what you came for. (For those of you who want quicker results, a full-day intensive session may be what you are looking for. Click here to read more)
Well, what about the money?
Yes, it does cost money. The fact that you are paying helps motivate you to commit to the process so that your hard-earned money doesn’t go to waste. Think of it as an investment in your relationship. Given the current economy, it is a far safer investment than most stocks out there.
It is also a lot cheaper than divorce. I am in frequent contact with domestic attorneys as they will refer clients who they think should give counseling a try before dissolving their relationship. One attorney told me that once assets are split and lawyer fees are paid, there is not much left. Now instead of one rent or mortgage, imagine you are paying for two. Many people in this economy can barely make ends meet, let alone pay for a second home. It is just too expensive to rush into a divorce, let alone the money you will be spending in individual therapy for yourself and your children, as well as the heartache.
A cute story: One of my couples was contemplating whether to space out their sessions for financial reasons. When I told them that I typically recommend a minimum of 12 sessions, they were rather surprised. They had just read an article I had written about the economy and your marriage in which I wrote that marriage counseling is cheaper than divorce. They wondered whether that was true so they took out a calculator. They told me they weren’t so convinced as they thought 10 years of counseling would be pretty expensive. They were quite relieved when I told them only 12 sessions. This couple is doing great and surely didn’t need ten years!
So no, it won’t take ten years. It usually doesn’t even take one year to get your marriage to a good place. It does cost money, but it is an investment that is well worth it.
If times are tough and you can’t afford it, please take advantage of our free resources such as our free newsletter and relationship advice that comes out weekly. You can send an email to [email protected] to get those emails. I truly want you to get the assistance that you deserve. An unsatisfying or unpleasant marriage takes its toll. Don’t deprive yourself for another minute of the joys of a great relationship!
If you’d like to try marriage counseling in the comfort of your own home, you’ll want to get a copy of our at-home marriage counseling program. It’s called The Marriage Restoration Project: The Five-Step Action Plan to Saving your Marriage and it’s a way for you to be able to experience the amazing benefits of marriage counseling but on your own time, in your own space. You can take a look at our program here:
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