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facts about couples counseling

The Facts About Couples Therapy

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There are a lot of couples therapy misconceptions. If you need a professional to help re-build your relationship, read this guide.

There is no such thing as a perfect relationship, even if you’ve been together for 50 years. But despite the fact that divorce rates have been hovering between 40 to 50 percent, there’s still hope for couples who have a strong desire to make it work.

Recent research revealed 75 percent of couples who did couples therapy believed they were “better off” after counseling. Sixty-five percent reported “significant” improvement in their relationship. And two years later, 50 percent of couples who sought therapy were still going strong.

Although some experience anxiety wondering if therapy will help you stay together, that’s the risk you must be willing to take. Seeing a couples therapist is a healthy way to explore your relationship patterns. It can also help you get unstuck from any issues that keep coming up.

Better communication with your partner is the ultimate goal. Consider therapy an investment in both your relationship and your mental health. Continue on to learn more about how couples therapy can work for you.

What is Couples Therapy?

Couples therapy, or marriage counseling, helps couples resolve conflicts. Partners learn ways to enhance their relationship with better communication tools and listening strategies. A licensed marriage counselor or psychotherapist helps guide couples through the process.

Treatment is on a short-term basis but sometimes can develop into long-term given the circumstances.

Common Misconceptions About Couples Therapy

When a couple decides to seek help for their relationship, it is a positive step in the right direction. Although relationship counseling is beneficial, sometimes unrealistic expectations can crop up.

A few common misconceptions about couples therapy that might prevent a couple from seeking therapy are:

1. One Person is Blamed for Most of the Relationship Issues

It’s common to avoid counseling for fear of getting blamed for relationship problems. Except for abuse or addiction history, an experienced therapist will take a fair and balanced approach to treatment.

2. Needing Individual Treatment Before Couples Counseling

Many couples put off relationship counseling because they believe they should deal with their own issues first. But that isn’t necessarily so. In fact, working on your relationship issues can pave the way for better communication and help decrease stress and anxiety.

3. We’ve Had These Issues For Years – Change is Unrealistic

No matter how many years you’ve been together, sometimes bad patterns and habits develop. This evolves into a dysfunctional relationship, which means the relationship focuses more on arguments, blame, fear, insecurities, and miscommunication.

But being in a dysfunctional relationship is not a completely hopeless situation. Relationship counseling helps with some of these patterns and redirects you toward more positive interactions and behaviors with each other.

Who Benefits from Couples Therapy?

Whether you are in a same-sex marriage, long-term relationship, or are engaged to be married, there are numerous benefits of seeking therapy. Some couples seek therapy because they have fallen into unhealthy communication patterns. Others require therapy as a tool to help them overcome a tragic event such as a death in the family or issues with addiction.

Below are several common reasons to seek relationship therapy:

  • Communication problems
  • Cheating
  • Physical abuse
  • Extended family issues
  • Financial problems
  • Control issues
  • Anger management
  • Sexual incompatibility
  • Drug or alcohol addiction
  • Death in the family
  • Child rearing issues

There are more issues that can crop up for couples seeking treatment, but these are among the most frequently addressed.

How Does Couples Therapy Work?

After mutually agreeing upon a therapist, a couple begins treatment with weekly therapy sessions. The sessions last about an hour, with the therapist asking the couple key questions about the relationship and any ongoing issues.

At the first meeting, the therapist asks the couple why they are there and gets background information on the relationship. Sometimes a questionnaire is given before the first meeting. This helps address any previous issues during the first few sessions.

Depending on what style is right for you, your therapist might give you “homework” to do at home with each other. This could range from reading a chapter of the same marriage counseling book to practicing active listening exercises.

What is the Role of Couples Therapist?

The therapist’s role is often multi-faceted. In the role of mediator, they help guide the relationship into better communication territory.

As mediator (or referee as some claim), a therapist can provide an objective view of the relationship without taking sides. By devoting a fair amount of time to each patient, they help individuals address their relationship issues in a safe environment.

A therapist also acts as a teacher and helps model positive communication. Their observation skills help therapists make assessments based on their professional training.

If arguments occur during a session, an experienced therapist helps guide the couple with keeping conflict resolution. Better communication tools are offered for couples in a calm and controlled environment.

How Relationship Counseling Helps

The benefits for couples attending relationship counseling are numerous. With the primary focus on improved communication, most couples are also able to achieve the following:

  • Learn active listening skills
  • Tackle issues together with the guidance of a professional therapist
  • Address dysfunctional patterns and work through them
  • Develop a heightened awareness of partner’s concerns in an objective way
  • Support each other in new ways
  • Strengthen communication skills by deconstructing negative patterns

Although new communication skills are beneficial to couples, sometimes pitfalls can happen.

Disadvantages

Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that couples therapy will solve your relationship problems. Counseling sessions sometimes reveal a person’s painful past in ways that might feel too vulnerable to continue. Sometimes a couple will discover they do not want to stay together after all and break up.

Although these can be some couples greatest therapy fears, choosing to get help is the best plan.

How to Find a Great Couples Therapist

One of the most important things you can do for your relationship is to invest in treatment. But how do you take that first important step to finding the right therapist? Here are a few things to consider:

Start with referrals. Referrals are a great way to find a therapist, so ask friends, doctors, and neighbors. Look online, too.

Define your needs with your partner. Make sure you and your partner are on the same page about your therapist qualifications. Do you need someone with a religious affiliation? Is there a preference for male or female?

Make an appointment for a consultation. To find the best fit, it’s often helpful to speak with the therapist in person, or by telephone, to get a feel for their style.

Check their credentials. Background and experience are very important so confirm a potential therapist’s licensing and affiliations. Also, check if there have been any complaints or disciplinary actions filed against them.

We understand that choosing to seek counseling is a big decision and should not be taken lightly. It can be a big step to get you on the path to healing old wounds and starting anew.

When you and your partner are ready to find a therapist, we are here for you.

What to Expect in Grief Counseling (And Is It Right for You?)

By | Grief, Grief Counseling | No Comments
After losing a loved one, therapy can help you process your emotions. Read on to learn what to expect in grief counseling and whether it’s right for you.

Grief counseling is a specialized type of therapy that aims at helping people who have experienced the loss of a loved one. Sessions focus on assisting people with working through their sadness, dealing with lingering guilt, and learning the coping mechanisms that can help them move forward with their lives.

Keep reading to learn what to expect in grief counseling and whether it’s right for you.

How Long is the Process?

While grief counseling doesn’t follow the same timeline in every person, it’s not a usually a permanent therapy. Grief counseling is recommended for anyone who has lost a loved one. Young or old, this form of therapy works for anyone working through loss–whether that’s a parent, sibling, spouse, or friend.

Grief counseling is also called bereavement counseling, but the latter term refers to loss through death only. Grief can involve the loss of a person through a breakup or divorce or some other situation.

Learning About Grief

Part of counseling is learning about the grief process and what to expect as you cope with a major loss. During therapy, people are taught the normal grieving process, including familiar feelings and thoughts.

Patients learn how to distinguish what normal grieving looks like, as compared to other mental health conditions normal grieving and other conditions, such as depression, that can develop from grieving.

Many therapists go through the five stages of grief, which are there to help you identify the various forms your grief will take as you cope with the loss.

Normal feelings associated with grieving include fear, anxiety, disbelief, anger, and sadness. Additionally, some people feel physical pain during this period of grief.

What You Can Expect to Do in Grief Counseling

Whether you choose group therapy, individual, or both, here are some of the things you can expect to cover in grief therapy.

1. Work on Expressing Feelings

In grief counseling, people learn to express what they are feeling, no matter what that looks like. Sometimes, this step is difficult for those who have trouble expressing emotions, but learning to talk about grief is an important part of the process.

In therapy sessions, patients may be asked to talk to the deceased, as though they were sitting right there. Or, they may be asked to write letters that express thoughts and feelings left unsaid.

Other ways to get in touch with feelings include looking at photos or visiting a gravesite, or and remembering the lost loved one or object or visiting the grave of a loved one who has died.

2. Becoming Open to New Relationships

This part of the counseling process is there to help people move forward with their lives. This element of counseling helps people view their relationship to the deceased through a different lens.

While the memories of a loved one last a lifetime, talking to someone can help people learn to how to incorporate the past with the changes that come in the future. Part of bereavement counseling serves to help the patient keep their hearts open to new relationships–romantic or otherwise.

3. Find a New Identity

During the duration of therapy, the patient must also work through their identity. People view themselves through the relationships they have. A woman may identify as a wife, but when her husband passes away, that identity changes.

Or a person who has lost both of their parents may feel that they are no longer someone’s son or daughter. In any case–part of the grieving process is understanding how these losses can affect our identity.

Patients may find new purpose in focusing their energy on other existing relationships–strengthening friendships after losing a spouse. Other may find doing volunteer work to helps fill a need to care for others.

When it’s Not Just Grief

Grief is not a mental disorder. Though it looks like depression, the pain is usually temporary, and something everyone goes through at one point or another.

When someone you care about dies, you can expect to feel sad, angry, confused, but if these feeling do not go away, you may need some extra support.

It’s not as if we go through all these stages and then come out the other side all shiny and new and ready to get back on with life. Loss stays under the surface of our lives and continues to permeate long after it first happened. Sometimes all it takes is a specific date, a place, or a song, for all of that grief to come surging back.

Symptoms of depression include insomnia, sadness, changes in appetite, weight loss, and fatigue. If you think you may be depressed, ask your grief counselor for a referral.

Grieving? Call Foundations Counseling Today

Ultimately, grief counseling serves as a way to help patients transition from a dark period marked by loss, to a new, productive path forward. And, arguably the best way to honor someone you love, is to live your best life, rather than continuing the bereavement process.

Of course, getting better takes work, and in many cases, a major time investment. In therapy, patients will uncover the deep emotions they are experiencing during the process. From there, they’ll learn to cope with those emotions and live a normal life.

There is no need to grieve the loss of a loved one alone. If you need help getting through this difficult time, contact us today.

 

Marriage Counseling

Do You Need Marriage Counseling? (And Will it Work?)

By | Uncategorized | No Comments
 It can be hard to admit when you need help with your relationship. Here’s how to identify if you and your spouse need marriage counseling.

Are you having problems in your marriage?

Marital distress can be a painful experience for both parties. It can be tempting to try to overcome hurdles on your own. But doing so can lead to even more problems or worse, divorce.

If you’re having issues with your husband or wife, it might be time to consider marriage counseling.

Counseling can help with all types of marital distress and help you get back on track with your spouse.

It can help you rekindle your flame by coaching you on tips for a successful marriage.

In fact, approximately 70 percent of couples recover within three months of therapy.

But how do you know it’s time for therapy? It can be hard to admit when you need help with your relationship.

Here’s how to identify if you and your spouse need marriage counseling.

1. Infidelity

Having an affair can be one of the most damaging factors in a relationship. Only about 31 percent of marriages last after an affair has been admitted or discovered.

The presence of infidelity is a telltale sign that your relationship is in trouble. Overcoming an affair is hard work, but it’s not impossible.

As long as both parties are committed to marriage counseling, the relationship has potential to be saved.

You should also consider coaching if you experience warning signs of infidelity. It’s best to get help as soon as possible if you’re fantasizing about or have the desire to cheat.

Take a proactive approach and diagnose your problems before it’s too late.

2. Communication Issues

Communication is a key part of any relationship. Relationships are built upon the ability to understand one another and talk through issues.

Marriages can often crumble when communication is poor.

Communication issues look a lot different from couple to couple. Maybe you are keeping secrets, avoiding each other, or constantly arguing.

Negative communication can be just as damaging as no communication. This is communication that leaves one partner feeling hurt. They might feel depressed, inferior, afraid, or marginalized after a negative conversation.

Couples therapy can help by coaching you to use new communication methods and techniques. A therapist can help you open up and bring back honesty to your relationship.

3. Fear

Have you ever been afraid in your relationship? If the answer is yes, it’s time to seek help.

Fear comes in many different forms. Obviously, fear of emotional or physical abuse should be handled very seriously.

Are you afraid of bringing up your feelings? Maybe you have a problem but are too afraid to bring it up to your spouse. Maybe you’re afraid of being judged or put down.

Fear can be damaging to relationships. It can hinder communication and lead to further issues down the road.

A marriage counselor will help by coaching you through these issues. It’s their job to be an impartial party and reserve judgment no matter how big your problems are.

4. Lack of Affection

The honeymoon stage can’t last forever. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have affection in your relationship.

It can be normal for married couples to struggle with their sex life. Even the most passionate couples can fall into a rut every so often.

But big changes to your sex life can also be a red flag. Affection still plays an important role in relationships. If your sex life is crumbling, a marriage counselor can help you reignite your flame.

You should also seek counseling if affection is being purposefully withheld.

A partner should not withhold affection as a form of punishment. This behavior can be hurtful and a sign of inequality in a relationship.

5. Financial Troubles

Finances are the leading cause of stress in relationships. Even the strongest marriages aren’t immune to financial burdens.

Financial issues can be a painful topic to discuss. As a result, many couples are not on the same page when it comes to money.

You might hide transactions from one another. You might have different budgets or avoid having serious conversations about money.

Marriage counseling can help you and your spouse get back on financial track. You can begin to have more open conversations about budgeting, saving, and spending.

Financial troubles can affect the rich and poor. A marriage counselor can help you and your spouse get on the same financial track.

6. Recurring Arguments

Your idea of marital bliss probably doesn’t include arguments. But arguments are a part of married life.

How do you know when you’re having too many arguments? One clear-cut sign is that you’re having recurring arguments.

Are you arguing over the same topics time after time? Has nothing changed?

It might be time to seek marriage counseling.

Recurring arguments can be frustrating for both parties. One spouse is clearly annoyed about something and continues to vent this frustration. The other spouse might feel attacked and confused about why these conversations keep occurring.

Recurring arguments might seem like they’re about something minor.

In reality, they might be about a deep-seeded issue. A marriage counselor can help you realize why these fights keep happening. They will help by coaching you to better communication.

7. Unresolved Issues

Compromise is a vital term to any relationship. Both spouses should have their needs equally met in a marriage.

Too much compromise can cause long-term, unresolved issues. These are issues that can ruin relationships over the course of years or even decades. They can be fundamental differences about families, children, finances, religion and more.

Unresolved issues can eat away at a marriage. Marriage counseling can help you get over these hurdles, no matter how impossible that might seem.

Therapy can help you better understand your spouse’s point of view.

You can work together to resolve even the biggest of differences of opinion.

Your Marriage Counseling

Marital distress can affect even the strongest couples. If these signs are familiar to you, a marriage counselor can get you and your spouse back on track.

Are you interested in learning more about marriage counseling? We can help.

We offer pre-marital, marital counseling and couples counseling to help in all stages of your relationship. Contact us today to get started.