How Couples Counseling Can Work for You
The average romantic relationship lasts just under three years before ending with a breakup or divorce. In light of this grim news, couples who are serious about making their bonds last should be proactive in their approach to fostering their relationships. Couples counseling can work wonders to improve communication, help couples focus on shared goals and develop coping mechanisms to address problems that may arise in a relationship. Below is a look at some of the key benefits offered by couples counseling.
Who Can Benefit from Couples Counseling?
Many people refrain from exploring couples counseling because they feel that it is a type of therapy that is limited to individuals involved in a long-term marriage. On the contrary, couples counseling can be beneficial to anyone involved in a serious relationship. Below are some examples of different types of couples who can benefit from couples counseling:
- Individuals involved in a homosexual relationship
- Younger couples (married or unmarried) in their 20s who wish to improve their relationships
- Newly married couples who have not experienced trouble but who wish to be proactive
- Individuals who are bound by common law marriages
- Elderly couples who are adjusting to age-related illnesses and problems
Therapists who offer couples counseling do not treat problems voiced by unmarried or cohabitating couples any differently than they do problems raised by married couples. The goals of couples counseling remain unchanged regardless of the type of couple a therapist is working with. In fact, problems can often be prevented if couples seek counseling proactively or before serious problems develop.
How Couples Counseling Works
Couples counseling is typically provided by a licensed psychologist, social worker or marriage and family therapist. In most cases, the counselor schedules an initial meeting to obtain background information from the couple and outline a series of treatment goals based upon the challenges or wishes outlined by the couple. Then, the counselor schedules a series of face to face meetings with the couple to address specific relationship difficulties and the development of appropriate coping strategies. The number and duration of counseling sessions will vary according to each individual couple, but couples can generally expect for sessions to last approximately one hour.
Improving Communication with Couples Counseling
One of the most important goals of couples counseling is to improve communication between the two individuals. It is therefore very important that both members of the couple actively participate in each session. Active participation may involve the completion of homework assignments in addition to engaging in discussions and role playing with the counselor or therapist. While the exact content of sessions will differ based upon a couple's needs, counselors often provide help with the following communication skills:
- Respecting a partner's feelings when communicating
- Expressing negative thoughts in a positive or non-threatening way
- Learning to listen and to communicate without talking over a partner
- Asserting needs and values in a positive and healthy manner
- Learning to say "No" and to properly express disagreement with a partner
Effective communication is often the foundation of a healthy relationship because it often opens the door for improvement in other areas of a couple's relationship, such as the development of effective coping skills.
Seeking Guidance from an Experienced Professional
If you and your partner are interested in improving the quality of your relationship, please contact us to schedule an appointment. David N. Lombard, Ph.D. has provided couples therapy and other behavioral health services for over two decades. He will work with you and your partner to improve your communication and coping skills so that your relationship can flourish. Dr. Lombard has the expertise to help clients in long-term marriages as well as those individuals who have just entered a new relationship.