He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not?
When you think about relationship, couple’s or marriage counseling what pops into your mind? Maybe you know people who have engaged in this type of counseling but have never considered it for your own relationship. What if I were to tell you that it’s actually a common practice used to build, strengthen and maintain that connection you share with those you are romantically involved in? Although it is becoming more mainstream there are still misconceptions about these types of therapy/counseling. I’m going to share with you five little know facts about relationship counseling to help you decide if it is right for you and your partner(s). (Counseling and Therapy will be used interchangeably)
It’s Not Just for Getting Through the “Bad Times”
Relationship counseling is a great way to maintain an already thriving relationship. Let’s say thing are going well and you want to figure out ways to keep the same energy months and/or years from now. Going to see a therapist to assess where you are with your partner within the relationship is a great way to help you set goals for the relationship moving forward. What the therapist will do is look at the relationship with a fresh set of eyes through a professional lens.
The therapist will then give you and you partner(s) take home activities and healthy coping skills to get through the rough patches that will come from the normalcy of relationships. The therapist can also help you improve minor concerns that may arise in relationships such as communication break downs, intimacy changes and milestone reaching. Seeing a therapist when things are already going well also sets the stage for normalizing the idea of outside therapeutic help if the relationship starts to decline.
You Have the Opportunity to Voice Concerns in a Safe Space.
Sometimes in relationships there are things that bother us, that may be difficult to discuss one on one with your partner. Your therapist will be able to give you an unbiased therapeutic opinion on what’s going on without the fear of judgement. Being in a relationship makes you want to protect the feelings of your loved ones that unfortunately may sacrifice your happiness and overall wellbeing. When this happens continuously you may be left with feelings of resentment towards your partner which than can then lead to distance and ultimately a potential break up.
Bringing those things up during a session allows you the chance to get your feelings out in a neutral atmosphere that then can be beneficial to the success of the relationship. The therapist can help your partner understand why you feel the way you do, while allowing y’all to process the issues together. Once the issues are out in the open they can then be addressed, and solutions to the problems can then be given by the therapist that can be used immediately or continuously within the relationship.
Relationship Therapy Looks Different for Each Relationship.
Typically, the way relationship counseling works involves those in the relationship talking with the therapist together during the session. After a few sessions the therapist should schedule individual sessions for everyone, to give each member the chance to share things that they may not feel comfortable sharing while their partner is in the room. Don’t be alarmed, this is normal in relationship therapy and also an indication that the counseling is progressing positively. This also gives the therapist the chance to “check in” with you to determine what is and is not working with the therapy. After the individual session you may be instructed to not share what was discussed until y’all are brought back together to continue the shared sessions. However some people chose to do their counseling completely separate but then use the “homework” activities or coping skills back to the home to be used together by each person in the relationship. This is a beneficial method best applied if those involved can commit to sessions one after the other on the same day, or within days of each other. Your therapist will discuss with you the various option of relationship therapy and together y’all will chose the best method that will be tailored to the needs of you and your partner(s).
It May be Emotionally Difficult to Return After the First Few Sessions.
Tough things can and often do come out during relationship therapy. Talking about these things can bring out emotions you may have been trying to repress or may have been avoiding for the sake of staying in the relationship and sparing your partner(s) feelings. Your therapist will and should challenge you and your partner(s) to talk about these things and how to solve them. However, once you give life to these concerns by talking about them it makes it real. You must then face these concerns head on and then decide with you partner(s) how to move forward in the relationship.
When these things do come up it is important to be open and honest with your partner(s) and the therapist about how you feel in order to really work on the problems y’all are facing. Because of this you may go home with feelings of shame or guilt that can be difficult to process if you are not ready to get through. Don’t quit it will get easier if you continue to go. Choosing not to continue can cause a greater rift in the relationship or can cause the problem to get worse. I challenge you and your partner(s) to be ready to feel these feelings if you choose to commit to therapy.
Ending the Relationship May be the Best Solution to the Problem.
Relationship therapy is not a guaranteed fix to the issues within the relationship. If solutions are given by the therapist yet they are continuously not being applied after the sessions, or if someone in the relationship refuses to change or compromise to save the relationship ending the relationship can be a valid solution. There’s nothing worse than trying to stay in a relationship that is broken yet everyone involved are not onboard with trying to fit it. Being in a relationship for the sake of having a relationship will create a toxic environment that can become violent in a variety of ways.
Therapy can help you realize that the relationship may not be what you thought it was, or that maybe you value yourself and your needs more. Those are normal and valid feelings that your therapist will help you acknowledge and work through. This may be a great time to consider therapy for yourself.
Hopefully these little known facts can help you decide if therapy can be beneficial for you and your relationship. Therapy can be scary to jump into, but your mental health and emotional stability will thank you for it. Relationship therapy can be a great tool to strengthen your relationship and can be used to give your relationship direction. Are you ready for change?
Certified Sex Therapist