Can Couples Therapy Really Help? How?

Can Couples Therapy Really Help? How?

Seeking help from a professional for the most intimate and important relationship in your life can be scary.  Especially if you haven’t done therapy before.  We know that couples have typically been in distress for about 6 years before they seek help, and often as a last resort.

Don’t despair!  Even if you’re losing hope, the right kind of couples therapy can often turn things around.

 So what happens in couples therapy?  Typically, when two people comes in the first time I want to know what’s brought them in now?  What are their strengths and hopes for their relationship?  What happens when they “miss” each other?  What are they thinking, feeling and doing in their relationship that leads to distress?  Sometimes partners come in hoping that the therapist will “take their side” and convince their partner that they need to change.  However, it’s important to keep in mind that I am the therapist for the relationship. My job is to be an objective coach that helps both people shift the negative dance they get caught in so that they can experience the relationship they hoped for when they first met. 

How do you find the right match for you and your couple?  Here’s some suggestions.  When you’re interviewing a therapist you want to find out what their training and track record is.  Historically couples therapy hasn’t received high marks in terms of effectiveness.  Which is why its important to know that some models of treatment are better than others.  Look for a therapist that practices treatment that has empirically proven results.  Results proven models are Emotionally Focused Couples therapy, John Gottman’s couple’s therapy and Imago Therapy to name the most well known.  All of these models are based on a specific approach that has been shown to work well.  Most of these programs also have a listing of therapists who are trained in their model on their websites.  Schedule a time to talk briefly with the therapist and then make an initial consultation appointment with perhaps two so you can see how it feels to be in the room with them.  Research shows that one of the most important factors contributing to success is the therapist/client relationship.  You should feel like he or she is on your sideholding the hope for your marriageuntil things can get better enough for you both to hold it yourselves. 

If you're considering doing some couples work, I congratulate you on your courage to take the first step in creating a new contract with your partner and to make probably the most important investment in your personal and family happiness.

Suzanne Marcus