After having spent years working with hundreds of couples, we know that couples counseling really works. We also know however that when they are considering couples therapy a great many people have concerns and questions they would like answered first. Therefore we would like to address some of the most commonly questions and concerns here:
1. How can someone outside my relationship really help me?
That is certainly a valid question. However couples who have been together for some time tend to have begun to operate along certain patterns, often without even realizing it. Having a neutral third party can help you understand what is really happening in your relationship.
Here’s an example. In the case of one couple the female partner felt that her voice was not being heard in the relationship. However, her partner felt put down. After simply observing them talk for a minutes certain patterns became obvious. When the woman spoke to her partner she looked at him but he looked at the floor. She also did most of the talking, he said very little. By simply suggesting that her husband looked at her while she spoke the woman said she finally felt as if he was listening to her. One small change made a huge difference.
2. If we can’t resolve things on our own maybe we are not right for each other after all.
Relationships are wonderful. They are also very emotional. Much of the time couples trigger each other so they interact in a very emotional way and their usual logical, rational thought process tends to go out of the window. Often all it takes is the presence of a neutral third party to help a couple see their relationship in a different, less emotionally charged light and begin working on the real issues, as a team.
3. Why see a therapist, when I can talk to my friends?
Everyone discusses their relationships with their friends, so many wonder what a stranger, in the form of a therapist, could tell them that their supportive friends could not. Well, in a nut shell, experience. Couples therapists have worked with hundreds of different couples, all of them different, but often with some strikingly similar challenges to face. This gives them an insight and wisdom that no friend, who really only has knowledge of a few relationships, can match.
4. Maybe we should just break up instead and start fresh with new partners, and things will be different next time.
That actually very rarely happens. Usually people bring the same patterns, the same ‘bad habits’, from one relationship to the next and the same vicious cycle begins again. One thing that is of utmost importance in couples counseling though is learning about yourself. That means that even of the worst does come to the worst and you do part ways with your current partner you will be far better equipped for the next one.
5. Therapy takes too long, years. Who has time for that?
Many people do indeed think that to be effective couples therapy has to go on and on and on. The fact is though that many couples begin seeing and experiencing a real, positive difference in their relationship after just a few sessions. Some may need longer, every couple is different, but for the most part it is a short and effective process.
6. I’m afraid therapy will just make things worse.
People don’t really like talking about their problems, or things that are painful, so they sometimes believe that couple therapy will just make a bad situation worse. But the elephant is still in the room, it is not going away by itself. By committing to couples therapy the problems can all be addressed in a rational, neutral setting and while it might not be very easy it really is easier than suffering in silence and usually very successful, however big the problems seem.
7. The therapist is only going to tell us to break up
When a relationship is in trouble most couples really do want to try and save it. The goal of couples therapy is not to make a judgment on whether or not a couple should break up but to help partners understand one another. Some couples do eventually split, but from a much better place than they would have done. Many do give it that ‘extra go’ though and with great success. But that is always up to them.
Are you interested in learning more? Check out our different locations – couples counseling in Berkeley and Oakland, marriage counseling in Palo Alto area, couples therapy San Francisco.