COUPLES WHO BENEFIT FROM THERAPY
Marriage counselling is a type of relationship therapy that focuses on building and maintaining a strong, healthy marriage. The goals sought through marriage counselling are as different and varied as the individuals who seek them. Couples may have suffered a trauma in their relationship, such as infidelity or unemployment, or may have set up patterns of destructive arguing. They may have grown apart, with one or both struggling with psychological problems such as drug addiction, gambling and even chronic depression, or where there are destructive disagreements over parenting styles. Two people may seek therapy in order to repair broken bonds.
Other couples whose marriages are minimally stressed use counselling or therapy as a way to deepen communication, increase positive communication skills, and further strengthen their relationships.
In still other situations, couples who are engaged to be married choose to attend marriage counselling as a way of deepening their relationship and avoiding potential pitfalls that might happen later on.
COMMON WORRIES ABOUT THERAPY
- Couples may worry that putting the problems out in the open will make the relationship worse. This tends to be untrue; in fact, most people find that talking about problems with a third party helps couples to understand each other’s actions better.
- People sometimes fear that therapy signals that the relationship has failed. Therapy can actually be the one thing that holds a relationship together when it otherwise would have failed.
- Often one or both people may worry that the therapist will take sides. It is not professional and not a part of the counsellor’s job to do so. Equally, couples therapists such as myself work non-judgmentally and systemically, and couples are introduced to the notion that what is broken is the bigger system, which has moved out of equilibrium so that all (or, if you like, none) of the parties are responsible for setting up a system that is dysfunctional. Long-term change is impossible unless everyone within the system (in this case the couple) take responsibility for their part in the problem and make the necessary changes.
- Sometimes one partner may want therapy and worry that the other partner will not agree. The only way to find out is for the concerned partner to present a list of facts about couples therapy and mention how important the process of healing the relationship is for them.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Initially, the couple will be assessed, which will take up at least the first session. Sometimes couples are surprised that this assessment doesn’t only focus on the immediate problems between them. However, a thorough assessment of the good and the bad, the past, the present and the future, is helpful in order to understand the systemic makeup of the problem.
Therapy itself will begin with a systemic formulation of the problems that are interfering with a healthy, happy relationship. Shared treatment goals will also be created, and will help to inform the treatment plan.