Couples Counseling

One of the primary reasons people seek a mental health counselor is for couples counseling.  While many people usually think of couples as married couples, in today’s environment there are all kinds of couples that may have issues.  For example, there could be two people who decided they don’t want to get married for whatever reason but who are as committed to each other as any other married couple; and along with that commitment can come differences in any number of areas that can cause friction between the people. If this friction isn’t taken care of appropriately, the relationship could sour to the point that couples counseling is required.

The amount of time people can spend in couples counseling can vary depending on a variety of factors: the length of the relationship, the issue that caused the need for couples counseling, the level of commitment that both parties have to the success of the relationship, and the rapport between the therapist and the couple, as well as the rapport between the therapist and each one of the parties.  In other words, if one party thinks the mental health counselor is playing favorites, this could affect the success of the therapy.

One approach that many couples counselors use is getting couples to use active listening.  Active listening requires the listener to not argue with the person speaking; instead he should listen to what is being said and do as best as he can to paraphrase what he think he heard in the form of a question.  For example, “So you are saying that I need to listen to what is being said and ask a question that seeks to clarify what was just being said to make sure I understand it?”

This active listening ensures that we aren’t causing an argument for no reason because we have misunderstood what the person just said.  In other words, we don’t pause before we respond and react.

Another approach used in couples counseling is emotionally focused therapy, which focuses on emotion as the primary tool of change.

Some people wonder whether couples counseling is effective.  With people, it is hard to say anything is 100% effective because there are some many factors at play.  Couples counselors on our site have often been practicing for some time and are usually licensed in some fashion by their respective states.  What you should expect when you go to a couples counselor, regardless of whether they are licensed, or what license they have is:

  • someone committed to helping people realize the best in themselves and each other;
  • a couples counselor who can be perceived as a neutral third-party that will hear each “side’s” grievances;
  • someone who lets both parties know that it takes continuous work to get and maintain a successful relationship;
  • a therapist who recognizes patterns of the people who seek couples counseling and helps them realize when they are acting in a pattern that is destructive;
  • someone who doesn’t promises 100% success
  • the knowledge of knowing that you didn’t just opt out of the relationship but did all that you could to make the relationship work.


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