Couples Therapy at a Glance
Couples therapy also known as marriage counselling or relationship counselling refers to a psychotherapy or counselling session meant for married couples in order to help them to solve their marital issues and enhance their relationships. The therapy enables married couples who are having problems with their marital lives to make informed decisions about their relationships. At the end of the counselling session, they are expected to either rebuild their relationship or call it a quit.
Normally, couples therapy sessions are attended by both partners of a couple. However, a partner may decide to undergo marriage counselling alone. It is the problem at hand that determines whether or not both partners should attend the therapy sessions.
Given that relationship problems can be very complex and thus require expert handling, couples therapy is not provided by any therapist. Therapists who provide relationship counselling are properly trained with the required degrees. They are licensed and most of them obtain certification from the American Association for Marriage and Family (AAMFT). So, if you and your partner have decided to go for marriage counselling, you should ensure that the counselling session is provided by a well trained marriage counsellor with all the necessary certifications. The session is not expected to last too long otherwise it will become too boring.
The reason why couples therapy is given
Following from the explanation of the meaning of couples therapy given above, the reason why it is done stands out gigantically. Marriage counselling is given to people who are having one or several challenges in their marital live or people whose marital unions are in trouble and they require the assistance of an expert in handling the problem. There is the tendency for some people to limit couples therapy to troubled relationship or to couples who are always quarrelling and fighting. This is far from the truth. There are a number of relationship problems encountered by married people. Advice on how to handle issues relating to family financial management, boredom in relationship, coping with one’s work during marriage, living with children and others are also provided by marriage counsellors. For example, if you are having problems managing your professional life and marriage life, you can go for marriage counselling with your partner to obtain professional advice on how to live your life as a married person and still cope with the challenges of your professional life.
Couples therapy is not only done when a marriage is facing some challenges. Couples can also engage in marriage counselling sessions in order to build strong relationship and enhance the love they have for each other. You and your partner can also engage in couples therapy in order to learn how to understand each other very well and be able to manage your differences and tolerate each other. People who are planning to marry can go for marriage counselling. When couples therapy is given to people who are not yet married but planning to marry, it is called pre-marriage counselling.
If you are unfaithful to your partner and you want to put an end to such unwanted behaviour, you can go for couples therapy. If you find that your partner has been unfaithful and you find it difficult to forgive him or her and yet you are still in love with him or her, you can also seek an expert help via marriage counselling. Other sexual problems in marriage can also be handled by marriage therapists. The truth is that marriage counselling can be used to solve a lot of marital issues. Some of the marital problems that can be resolved via relationship therapy include but not limited to the following:
- conflicts about blended families or child rearing
- sexual difficulties
- substance abuse
- financial problems
- coping with in-laws and siblings when you are married
- domestic violence and others
- communication problems
Who should go for couples therapy?
As it has been said above, couples therapy is not only meant for married couples who have some difficulties with their marriage. People whose relationship seems to be moving fine can also go for marital therapy in order to make their bond stronger or learn tips on how to have a lasting relationship. In other words, every married couple should go for couples therapy at least occasionally in order to learn tips on how to build a stronger relationship or solve some of their marital challenges. Marriage counselling brings in a neutral mediator in your marriage who will give unbiased assessment of the issue you present before him or her and proffer solution on how the issue should be resolved. Sometimes, it is necessary for a third partner to play the judge in your relationship so that unbiased evaluation will be given to the problem.
Preparing for marriage counselling
Couples therapy is a serious exercise and thus should be prepared for. It is not something that you wake up and start going. There are certain things that you should do first before going for the counselling. The first thing that you have to do is to discuss it with your partner. A better result is obtained if both partners willingly agree to attend the counselling session. Don’t force your partner to go for marriage counselling. Instead, you should explain to him or her why it is necessary for you people to get involved in the exercise. Hopefully, your partner will welcome the suggestion. But you can still go alone if the issue is so personal to you but it is affecting your relationship or if your partner refuses to go.
Having discussed it with your partner, the next thing you should do is to look for a professional and experienced marriage counsellor. As it has been said above, marriage counselling requires an expert handling. An unprofessional marriage counsellor can misguide you and this may cause serious damage to your relationship.
Definitely, if you search on the internet, you will find a number of marriage counsellors. There is no doubt that each of them will promise to give you the best services. Don’t be deceived by their words. Some of the promises are nothing but commercials. So, you have to be careful in making your selection. Ask people, loved ones, friends and colleagues who have obtained such services before what their experiences are. They will definitely provide useful advice. You can seek for recommendations from your state or local mental health providers, religious leader or your health insurer. They will surely be glad to recommend for you. If you are searching online, you have to take time to read the reviews of various sites you visit. It is advisable that you contact the marriage counsellor and ask for referral.
Don’t make your judgment or selection based on the promises on the site. Verify the credentials of the counsellor. Make sure that the person you want to hire has the necessary qualifications, license and certifications to offer couples therapy services before you can schedule sessions with the therapist. Here are some of the questions that you should ask the therapist in order to determine his level of experience.
Are you certified and licensed? Where did you obtain your license and certification? What is your educational background? Have you handled any issue similar to my own? Can you provide me with referees? What are your working hours? Where is your office located? How do you handle emergency situations? How long does a session last and how many sessions should I attend? Do, you have any policy on cancelled session? Do you charge per session or per month? How much does a session cost? Should I make upfront payment? The above are some of the questions that you should ask the therapist during conversion with him or her. The answer to the questions will determine whether or not the therapist is the right person to handle your case.
What you should expect from a couples therapy?
Some couples are frightened by the idea of marriage counselling. Some people don’t like the idea of discussing their marriage problems with another person they don’t know because of the fear that the person may discuss their secret to another person. Some already believe that they cannot be helped. They think their problems are so complicated that nobody is capable of helping them to deal with it. These are some of the problems that make people not to go for couples therapy even when it is obvious that they need such therapy.
Confidentiality is highly emphasized in couples marriage. It is a valued professional ethics. So, you should not entertain any fear that your problems will be solved. As it has been said above, marriage therapists are professionals in the field. They are capable of handling your problems no matter how complicated it may seem to be. Here are some of the things that you should expect if you have made up your mind to go for counselling.
It is not going to be fun
Couples therapy is not easy especially during the first day. Don’t expect immediate result. It is a gradual process. The therapist has to dig into the matter and proffer sound solution but the process is gradual one.
Expect questions too personal to you
The therapist may ask you too many questions the answer to some of them will reveal some of your secret. But it is important that you answer the question to enable him or her solve your problem. But if you don’t feel comfortable answering any question, politely let him or her know.
What is required from you?
You should try to be open to your therapist. Openness and availability are very necessary for better results to be obtained. Be punctual to session and try as much as possible not to miss sessions.