Everything You Need to Know About Relationship Counseling

What you need to know about couples therapy: When to go, how to prepare, and what to expect

Everything You Need to Know About Relationship Counseling

Couples therapy is a type of therapy that can help a couple overcome issues in their relationship and learn better communication. 

Not everyone needs couples therapy – in some cases, people can work out relationship conflicts on their own. But if you find yourself having the same argument over and over with your partner without any resolution, it might be time to see a couples therapist.

Here's what you need to know about when you should seek couples therapy and how it can help.

How to know if you need couples therapy  

Couples therapy isn't only necessary during a time of crisis, a breakup or major life change. It can also be useful to manage recurring conflict or underlying issues. 

Important: Couples therapy is not designed to work for abusive or toxic relationships where one partner has more control.

Experts advise that in some cases, the vulnerable things said in couples therapy can actually make issues worse, causing an abuser to become angry or violent.

If this is the case, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or chat online here. 

Some of the most common signs that you may need couples therapy are:

  • You can only see the negative. «If you find yourself repeating a story either out loud or internally that's laced with blame and contempt — a narrative where you no longer remember your partner or your relationship fondly — that's a real warning sign,» says Kerry Lusignan, LMHC, Director of the Northampton Center for Couples Therapy. This may mean that your bad memories of the relationship have overcome the good ones, and that the relationship is at a tipping point, says Lusignan.
  • You have repetitive conflicts. If you have the same fights over and over that are never truly resolved and leave you feeling hurt, this may be a major concern, says Lusignan. «It's normal to fight to some extent in your relationship; what gets couples in trouble is the inability to resolve disagreements. Wounds not healed over time create resentment and ultimately erode at trust and connection,» Lusignan says.
  • You aren't communicating. If you find yourself talking to your partner less and less, or you can't talk about your feelings, this may be a sign that the relationship needs help, says Steven Harris, PhD, a professor of Marriage and Family Therapy at the University of Minnesota. When this happens, «you are left to your own thoughts about what is happening in your relationship without having the benefit of being corrected by your partner,» Harris says, adding that, «the echo chamber is dangerous.»

«Couples typically wait far too long to seek out therapy,» says Ashley Grinonneau-Denton, PhD, a certified sex therapist and Co-Director of the Sexuality Training Institute.

According to a 2021 study, couples generally wait around 2.5 years after serious problems start before seeking help. But When you leave relationship problems unsolved, they can grow, and what started as a small irritant can become overwhelming. 

«It is ideal to seek out couples therapy at the first blush of conflict that seems hard to resolve on your own,» Grinonneau-Denton says. This is because when you start earlier on, therapy is more ly to work well you can make progress more quickly.

How can you prepare for couples therapy?

Being well-prepared for couples therapy can make the experience more useful and help you to make changes more quickly. Here are three steps you should take before starting couples therapy, according to experts.

Choose the right therapist. «Make sure you find somebody who's truly experienced with couples therapy,» says Ellyn Bader, PhD, founder and director of the Couples Institute in California. 

Related Popular types of couples therapy and what to know when choosing a therapist

Many therapists may list couples therapy on their websites but you should look to see if they have had any specialized training, Bader advises. 

For example, you can ask if the therapist is a member of The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapists (AAMFT) or if they have training with scientifically- backed methods the Gottman method.

Identify your goals for therapy. «The best way to prepare for couples counseling is to have a relationship goal in mind,» says Chris Leeth, PhD, LPC-S, a professor of counseling at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Some common goals might be:

  • To establish new routines in your relationship, spending quality time together or redistributing chores.
  • To move forward toward marriage, particularly if one partner is reluctant or there are commitment issues.
  • Find a way to separate amicably. This may be especially important if the couple has children.

Knowing what you want to get therapy can help you, your partner, and the therapist come up with an effective plan, Leeth says.

Couples therapy is a highly effective way to help couples solve problems and develop healthier relationships.

The American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy states that around 98% of clients were satisfied with therapy and 90% reported an improvement in their emotional health after couples therapy.

In addition, about two-thirds of clients also saw an improvement in their physical health, as well. 

Prepare yourself to be uncomfortable. «Counseling in general is a lot exercise; we don't see results immediately, and it can often be uncomfortable,» Leeth says. 

You will need to accept that your partner may bring up things that anger, embarrass, or hurt you during therapy sessions.

But while couples therapy might be painful at times, this discomfort is an important part of the growth process. 

How to get the most couples therapy

Once you actually start couples therapy, you may need to shift your attitude, change your communication, and put in some hard work. Here are some of the most important tips to help you get the best results couples therapy.

Focus on your own behavior. «Many times, people go to couple's counseling with a very detailed list of all the things the partner does or doesn't do,» Leeth says. But for therapy to work, you will need to look at your own behavior as well.

«It is inevitable that partners will trigger emotional responses in each other. It's impossible not to,» Bader says. When emotions are running high, this can lead to conflicts, hurt feelings, and misunderstandings between partners. 

To make changes, you need to be willing to look at yourself and consider what you do when you get triggered, Bader says.

General advice: One of the things that couples therapists tend to emphasize is using «I»-statements. «Instead of saying 'You piss me off all the time' or 'You never listen,' it becomes 'I'm angry because…'or 'I feel no one hears me,'» Leeth says.

«On the other hand, there are some people who overly blame themselves and are not assertive enough with their partners,» says David Woodsfellow, PhD, a clinical psychologist and couples therapist at The Woodsfellow Institute for Couples Therapy.

These people might need encouragement to focus on what they want and don't want from their partner, Woodsfellow says.

Be honest. Being honest is not just about revealing secrets, but also openly expressing how you feel and what you want, Leeth says.

«If you want something different from the relationship or your partner, it won't do any good to keep that need private,» says Leeth.

Related What to expect at your first couples therapy session and the 4 relationship skills it can teach you

A couples counselor can help you express yourself openly, and help your partner to hear you. «This is the only way change will happen,» Leeth says.

Be receptive. It can be hard to listen to your partner talk honestly about the issues in your relationship. But it's important to avoid getting defensive and remember that recognizing hard truths is part of the process.

«Just because we hear something we don't , though, doesn't mean the relationship is doomed, or that we can't be happy,» Leeth says.

A good couple's counselor will help both partners truly hear each other and work through painful thoughts and feelings.

Be willing to do homework. Couples therapy doesn't just take place in your therapist's office – your therapist may assign you exercises to help you make changes at home.

«Nobody comes into a relationship having all the skills they need,» Bader says. Practice is needed to make real progress, and doing homework can help you make relationship changes more quickly.

Bader says that she often assigns homework for couples to do on their own. Some common homework assignments might be: 

  • Reading materials about the development of relationships over time, something that most of us don't learn in school.
  • Practicing asking questions that are not self-centered or self-focused. «I sometimes will send people home with a group of questions to ask their partner, and not talk about themselves,» Bader says.
  • After coming home from a session, writing down three things you heard your partner describe during the session, trying to think from their point of view. You can then review this with your partner at the next session and see if you understood correctly.
  • Write down one thing each day that your partner did that you found rewarding. You can then give each other positive feedback during the next session.

Be patient. Making changes in a relationship takes time and you may not see results right away. 

«My experience is that couple's counseling goes slow,» Leeth says. «In the first few sessions, both partners are eager to explain what they want different about the relationship, but neither partner truly understands what the other is asking for or why.»

Learning how to communicate more effectively will take time and practice. However, if you find yourselves just fighting for multiple therapy sessions, you may need a new couples therapist who can interrupt these patterns, Bader says. 

What to avoid during couples therapy

«Couples therapy can feel an opportunity to list off everything wrong with your partner, or conversely, to list off everything you do right in the relationship,» Leeth says. But this focus on keeping score can hold you back from actually making positive changes.

The way you communicate can also have a positive or negative effect on how well therapy will work. Woodsfellow says you should avoid doing the following in a couples therapy session:

  • Yelling
  • Cursing
  • Threatening your partner
  • Stonewalling your partner by going silent
  • Leaving in the middle of a session

Having emotional reactions is normal, but the way you express yourself can either help or hurt the therapy process. «If you need to take a break to calm down during a session, say so. Take a few minutes and find a way to calm down,» Woodsfellow advises.

Insider's takeaway

Couples therapy can be an important tool to encourage open communication and keep your relationship healthy. Not all couples will need couples therapy to overcome issues, but if you find yourself unable to resolve conflicts, seeing a therapist can be a good solution.

Addressing serious problems early on can also give you a better chance of working them out in therapy, before negative feelings take over. Many couples face hardships in life, and seeking therapy can help you navigate these challenges together. 

«It is so very useful to use couples therapy as a way to make sense of the inevitable changes that each respective partner will face and the ripple effects those changes have on the relationship,» Grinnoneau-Denton says.

Источник: https://www.insider.com/couples-therapy

What You Need To Know About Relationship Counseling

Everything You Need to Know About Relationship Counseling

By our very nature, humans are social animals who thrive on connection. Whether it’s a family unit, a nationality, or simply a group of -minded people, relationships are critical to how we make our way in the world. When relationships go awry, however, the effects can be devastating, which is where relationship counseling comes in.

At Flux Psychology, Andrea Liner, PsyD, specializes in helping people navigate the unavoidable ups and down in life, and she’s especially passionate about working with young adults who are learning what it takes to stand on their own. Whether it’s a bad breakup or you feel you’re not connecting the way you should with others, our relationship counseling is designed to help you better plug into the world around you.

Here’s a look at when you might benefit from our relationship counseling services and what you should expect.

Spotting the warning signs

As we mentioned, humans are inherently social creatures who rely on relationships of all kinds for their most basic physical, mental, and emotional needs. While many relationships are superficial, equally as many are tied to your well-being in some very complex ways.

If you’re struggling with interpersonal relationships, you may find yourself exhibiting some of the following behaviors:

  • You’re isolating more
  • You obsess over a relationship
  • You shut down in a relationship
  • You’re easily irritated
  • You’re unable to approach people
  • You feel a sense of impending doom in your relationship
  • You avoid discussing your concerns
  • You sabotage your relationship

In addition to these warning signs, perhaps you’ve been through a breakup and you’re mourning the loss of a relationship. This might be with a significant other or a falling out with a friend or family member.

Whatever your relationship issues, we’re here to help.

Understanding relationship counseling

The goal of our relationship counseling is to help you create and maintain healthy relationships, which means that we show you what a healthy relationship should look , as well as what an unhealthy relationship can do to your well-being.

When Dr. Liner sits down with you, she spends a considerable amount of time listening to your problems to determine where the issues may lie. Often, your interpersonal problems may stem from something very personal.

In these cases, Dr. Liner works with you to discover the root cause of your problem so that you’re better able to establish meaningful relationships moving forward.

As another example of relationship counseling, if the lines of communication between you and your partner have broken down and fighting is the only way you interact, Dr. Liner provides a valuable space in which the two of you can re-establish healthier communications.

Another key aspect of relationship counseling is to help guide you after a relationship has ended. If you’re going through a breakup and you’re having trouble moving on, Dr. Liner uses therapeutic exercises and actionable plans to help you take charge of your life again. 

If you’d to learn more about relationship counseling and how it can help you better handle the world around you, please contact our office in Denver, Colorado, to set up an appointment.

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Источник: https://www.fluxpsychology.com/blog/what-you-need-to-know-about-relationship-counseling

What parents need to know about couples therapy—including if it actually works

Everything You Need to Know About Relationship Counseling

Here are two things we know for sure: Marriage is hard, and kids make it harder. So what happens when you throw a global pandemic into the mix?

With all the extra stress in parents’ lives, it’s no surprise that marriage therapists report seeing an uptick in couples looking for help. Multiple surveys suggest that many couples started arguing more with their partner when the COVID-19 pandemic began.

The fights can be about anything—childrearing and domestic duties, intimacy, money—because, really, any number of topics can serve as a proxy for worries about an uncertain future, precarious employment and social isolation.

“Couples are in close quarters, working from home, parenting from home—and without the same outlets work, friends and hobbies,” says Elana Sures, a psychotherapist in Vancouver. “There are pent-up emotions that don’t get processed, whether that’s anger or anxiety.”

The threat of a breakup is extra stressful when you have kids because you’re so keenly aware of how deeply affected they’ll be. This often becomes the motivation for troubled parents to seek outside help.

“Therapy? No way”

The stigma associated with therapy has long been a deterrent for getting help, but thankfully it’s fading as society’s compassion around mental health issues has grown.

But even if you’ve done individual therapy and think therapy’s no big deal, you or your partner may still feel reluctant to seek out a stranger and spill your relationship dirt—the things you’re perhaps not proud of saying or the behaviour you never imagined you would tolerate from a partner.

Some couples might worry that seeing a therapist conflicts with the sunny version of their #relationshipgoals being posted on Instagram.

Heather Kohlmann, 38, who lives in Toronto with her husband and infant daughter, says that she and her now-husband were on the verge of a breakup before getting married, but they were still reluctant to seek out help.

“Part of the reason we put it off for so long was that I didn’t want to admit we weren’t the perfect couple I thought all our friends saw us as,” she says. “I definitely felt that if there was something so wrong with our relationship that we needed therapy, then surely it wasn’t strong enough to last.” And that was a fact she didn’t want to face.

Unsurprisingly, it’s better to not let things fester. “Couples usually wait until they’re in crisis instead of focusing on relationship maintenance,” says Ornella Harris, a psychotherapist in Mississauga, Ont. “So when you’re faced with other compounding issues, it really intensifies the need for support.”

The tendency to rationalize struggles in the context of a relationship, says Sures, is another factor that keeps people away from the therapist’s office. “They think, ‘Every couple with kids goes through this.’”

It’s true that conflict is both normal and expected in relationships. But feeling unhappy, bored, frustrated or unappreciated in your relationship shouldn’t be anyone’s status quo—and couples therapy can help unpack those feelings.

How to find a couples therapist you can trust

Trusted friends, family members or your healthcare provider are great places to start looking for a therapist recommendation.

Ruth Neustifter, who teaches the couples therapy program in the Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition at the University of Guelph, recommends interviewing a therapist before you commit to a session.

Request a brief phone call (about 15 to 20 minutes, and you usually won’t be charged for it) to ask where they’re registered or licensed, how much experience they have, how they might approach someone with your concerns, and, if this applies to you, if they’re trained to do work with a particular community, sexuality, ethnicity or religion.

Black, Indigenous or persons of colour, as well as transgender or non-monogamous individuals, might want to make the extra effort to find a therapist with similar lived experience. “Social location is really important in terms of creating a safe environment you can feel vulnerable in,” says Harris.

Finally, ask what type of therapy they use.

Sures says there are two particularly popular forms: the Gottman Method, the research of clinical psychologists (and married couple) John and Julie Gottman, and Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), what’s called attachment theory and pioneered by Canadian therapist Sue Johnson. There are many styles out there, but it’s most important to make sure the therapist has training and experience in couples therapy specifically.

Couples therapy in the age of physical distancing

As long as COVID-19 is lingering around, expect that your sessions—which are typically just shy of an hour—could be held over Zoom, Skype or telephone. Some in-person sessions might be available, but you should ly anticipate the new normal of physical distancing, masks and hand sanitizer.

Sures for one has found that remote sessions are just as effective as in-person, although she’s experienced her share of tech glitches, so prepare yourself for accidental muting or the odd frozen screen.

Do what you can to minimize distractions. “Put the kids in front of a movie or plan it for nap time,” says Sures.

Post-bedtime might be best for parents with small kids—if that’s the case for you, ask your therapist if they have any evening availability.

What to expect during couples therapy

During your first appointment, it’s standard to be asked to sign a consent form and a contract for services and to also provide a little background on your relationship.

While what happens in therapy depends on the style of therapy you’ve chosen and the issues you would to explore, Neustifter says it’s common to explore exercises related to how you hear and respond to each other’s needs, how to negotiate when your needs conflict, how to de-escalate if you experience intense conflict, and even how to structure your day in order to prioritize the relationship. You can also ly expect to spend time talking about your upbringing, with a specific focus on how love was modelled. “It’s important to look at subconscious programming when it comes to how you see the world,” says Harris.

Couples often see a therapist for eight to 12 sessions, but others go periodically; still others might see a therapist for the entire duration of their relationship. The amount of progress you make and how fast you make it will depend on your individual situation.

“If it’s mostly stress and you’re otherwise getting along fine, you can often see some real progress in just the first few sessions,” says Neustifter.

Harris says that couples aiming for 10 sessions should start to feel a “shift in perspective” by around the halfway mark.

How much does couples therapy cost?

There’s no way around it: Couples therapy is expensive—prohibitively, for many. Sures says you can expect to pay between $120 and $160 per hour for a master’s level therapist (a social worker, registered psychotherapist or clinical counsellor) and more than $200 for a registered psychologist.

Workplace benefits sometimes cover the cost, but often for a limited number of sessions. Some therapists offer a sliding scale your income, and university training programs are a good place to find lower-cost options.

Unfortunately, it can be difficult to find a couples therapist who is covered by a provincial healthcare plan.

Photo: Carmen Cheung

Does couples therapy work?

Before trying therapy, Kohlmann and her husband were defensive and unable to communicate, suppressing their needs to avoid conflict. Tension would build until someone exploded. “And then it would be so accusatory,” she says.

Kohlmann wanted to go to therapy, but they were both concerned about cost. Eventually, they reached a crossroads.

She remembers lying in bed together, both tearful, trying to figure out whether to stay together when they were both so unhappy but unable to fix it.

They ultimately did begin therapy, nudged by (of all things) a coupon that landed in Kohlmann’s inbox—and it took fewer than 10 sessions for things to really turn around.

One key epiphany? Kohlmann says therapy helped her realize that, in previous conversations, she wasn’t really listening to her husband; rather, she was using the time he was talking to think about what she was going to say next to prove her point.

Sures says couples can expect to improve their communication skills quickly. “It’s also fair to expect a better, deeper connection and appreciation for each other,” she says. One 2016 study from the University of Ottawa found that couples who tried EFT enjoyed increased relationship satisfaction and attachment, even two years after their sessions.

A big part of making therapy work for you is taking responsibility for your role in the relationship dynamic. “It’s really important—no matter how ticked off you are,” says Sures. Blaming all your problems on your partner won’t get you anywhere.

Getting buy-in from your partner

While it might be common for one partner to lead the charge to therapy—yes, usually the woman in a heterosexual coupling—both partners are going to have to buy in to the process, and fully commit to the work, if you want to see any results.

For Andrew Stoneman*, a dad of one in Toronto, couples therapy felt doomed from the start.

When he and his now-ex-wife tried it when their daughter was 12—initiated when Stoneman was unnerved by his wife’s close relationship with a male friend—his wife refused to return after two sessions because she felt the counsellor was taking her husband’s side.

Her position masked a lack of commitment, something Stoneman finally accepted as his wife’s infidelities added up. “The old light bulb joke has wisdom in it,” says Stoneman. “It takes only one therapist to change a light bulb, but the light bulb has to want to change.”

If your partner won’t entertain the thought of couples therapy, consider individual therapy, which will help you see your issues more clearly.

“I see a relationship as three relationships: each individual’s relationship with themselves, and then with each other,” says Harris. “All three need to function well for everyone’s health and well-being.

” It might not be what you hoped for, but it’s a start.

Should I stay or should I go?

If your relationship is already in serious crisis, you might want to consider discernment counselling, which is designed to help a couple figure out whether to work on the relationship or to split up.

In discernment counselling, there’s typically “a ‘leaning in’ partner, who wants to stay, and a ‘leaning out’ partner, who wants to leave,” says Amanda Bacchus, director of the Vaughan Relationship Centre.

The number of sessions is usually limited to a handful, with the aim of making a firm decision on how to proceed.

“We figure out whether there’s a chance to save the relationship,” says Bacchus, who says she asks couples about motivation, family preservation considerations, respective responsibility in relationship breakdown, and what a future might look .

Jennifer Ellison, a certified discernment counsellor in Oakville, Ont., notes that she commonly sees couples who are new parents who have not yet reoriented their relationship to their new normal.

“We know that the first few years after having a child are some of the most stressful for relationships,” says Ellison, who adds that it’s rare to see couples whose issues didn’t precede the new baby.

Studies show that more than half of couples who try discernment counselling decide to stay together for good or, at the very least, stay together and partake in couples therapy for six months without bringing up divorce.

But even those who decide to split report more amicable breakups and co-parenting arrangements, thanks to a process that ensures steps aren’t taken with an angrily packed suitcase in the middle of the night, but with a thoughtful and deliberate process.

DIY couples therapy

If therapy just can’t happen right now, try one of these books or workbooks recommended by couples therapists.

1. Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love by Sue Johnson

This book offers an outline of Johnson’s wildly successful Emotionally Focused Therapy, with an emphasis on building emotional connection between partners.

2. The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John M. Gottman

Gottman’s book offers practical strategies for building a happy, long-lasting relationship.

3. Marriage Rules: A Manual for the Married and The Coupled Up by Harriet Lerner

In this workbook, Lerner offers solution-based rules (particularly when it comes to self-regulation) to improve relationship quality.

4. Unf#ck Your Intimacy Workbook by Faith Harper

The exercises in this workbook—which range from communication templates to boundary setting—are designed to help users get in touch with their own needs.

5. Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence by Esther Perel

This book explores the complications of sustaining desire in a long-term relationship, including the issue of divergent sexual appetite. (While you’re at it, listen to Perel’s podcast, Where Should We Begin, where real couples anonymously work through their relationship challenges, from infidelity to sexlessness.)

*Name has been changed

This article was originally published online in November 2020.

Источник: https://www.todaysparent.com/family/family-life/what-parents-need-to-know-about-couples-therapy-including-if-it-actually-works/

Everything You Need to Know Before Visiting a Marriage Counselor

Everything You Need to Know About Relationship Counseling

Marriage counseling is helpful to anyone who is married. A marriage counselor can help a couple through difficult times and they can also help a couple have a happier marriage.

However, not all marriage counselors are suited to help all marriages. You need to know what to look for when you seek out a marriage counselor. Here are the top 8 points that I would tell a friend or family member to consider when seeking the services of a marriage counselor.

1. Know Your Counselor’s Values

If you and your spouse are of a particular faith or religion, use a counselor with that same faith background. I would not recommend that a Christian go to an atheist counselor. Your beliefs and values are going to be starkly different.

Find a counselor that has your similar belief system. How do you know what their belief system may be? Look at the counselor’s website. Most will specify if they use a specific faith to guide their faith and practice.

For example, you can find counselors that use new age practices that embrace spirituality and connection with the universe. If that isn’t your belief system and instead you are a devout Baptist, then look for a counselor that labels themselves as a Christian counselor.

When it comes to matters of the heart, you want to receive life guidance, advice, and support from someone who thinks you do.

If you go to someone who has opposing views to your own beliefs, then the counseling experience will ly not be beneficial to you.

Make sure that you and your spouse consider faith, religious background, and your belief system when looking at counselors that you may want to hire.

Your marriage is serious business, so take the time and effort to look at the background of the counselor you want to hire. You want to ensure that they will counsel in a manner that aligns with your personal and marital beliefs.

For example, I know a couple very close to me who went to marriage counseling after a year of marriage. This couple would describe themselves as Christians, even though they weren’t regular attenders at the time.

After several sessions with their couple’s counselor, it was suggested by the counselor that they get divorced. Thank goodness that the couple did not agree with the counselor! They did not take the counselor’s advice and remained married. They did however, feel that their time and money was wasted with that particular marriage counselor.

The marriage counselor held no personal stock in Christianity or the sanctity of marriage. This counselor focused on individual happiness and doing what is best for each person alone. This counselor did not specialize in helping marriages through their problems. His focus instead was on the individual rather than the couple.

However, this couple wanted the focus to be on their marriage, and helping them through their issues. They made it through that first year, in spite of the counselor and have now celebrated 40 years of marriage.

Their story is proof that you need to look at the counselor’s personal values before you dive into a counseling relationship and spend your money and time with someone who may not value what you value in life.

2. Do They Accept Your Insurance?

If you have health insurance that covers marriage counseling, then use it! The cost of good counseling is not cheap. It is well worth the money. But if you have insurance that covers counseling, then take advantage of this benefit.

You can contact your insurance company and they can provide you with the names and contact information of counselors that accept your insurance. If you found a specific counselor that you want to work with, then contact that counselor to see if they accept your insurance.

If you don’t have insurance, there are some counselors that have a sliding scale for counseling fees. They will charge your income level. If you think you would qualify for lower payments, then ask if they have a sliding scale available.

If you cannot afford marriage counseling or you feel that the failing marriage is not worth investing another cent, then look at free marriage counseling options.

Don’t give up on your marriage without at least giving free counseling a try. There are many churches that offer free (or highly discounted) marriage counseling services.

For many of these churches you do not even need to be a member. These counseling sessions are often limited in number, meaning that each couple is provided a set number of sessions free.

This is okay though because if you are one of those couples who wouldn’t get help from a counselor unless it is free, then seek out the free options because several sessions is better than none!

4. What are the Counselor’s Credentials?

A reputable counselor will typically provide their credentials right on their website. They will state where they obtained their education and what degrees that have obtained.

Look to see what kind of counseling license they hold. Most counseling licenses require a Master’s degree or higher. There are some who call themselves counselors and hold no degrees and/or license. Depending on the state where they reside, it could be against the law for them to even be practicing.

It is a good general policy to use counselors that are legitimate, meaning they have the degrees and license. You want to be counseled by someone who knows what they are doing, so don’t risk your marriage by using someone who isn’t legitimate.

5. Ask About the Counselor’s Track Record

Ask the counselor what their success rate has been with other couples who have sought their help through couples counseling. A counselor who has a good record of helping couples survive their issues, helped them work though their problems, and the couple did not get divorced, then that counselor will be willing to tell you about it.

They obviously can’t violate confidentiality laws, but they can speak about general statistics and couples that they have helped without getting too specific or providing names.

Counselors who have a good track record of success are going to be more than willing to share about their success. They will want potential clients to know that they have helped others and that their success can be repeated with you and your marital situation.

6. What to Expect in a Session

In marriage counseling, your counselor will use the techniques and methods that they have been taught and that they find to be effective in helping couples.

Not Taking Sides

Not all marriage counselors utilize the same methods. There are some general policies that most marriage counselors will hold. This includes not taking sides. They will act as a middle man or mediator, not taking either side in the marriage.

Even if they do find that one side is “right”, then they help in a diplomatic way that does not alienate the side that is “wrong”. Therefore, don’t go into marriage counseling seeking to get the counselor on your side. The counselor’s job is not to take sides. Their job is to help you through your problems and issues, so you can have a happy marriage.

Keeping Everyone Calm

Another general policy that most marriage counselors hold is that they are going to try to conduct sessions in a manner that keeps everyone calm.

Things can get heated in marriage counseling situations. For example, a couple may go to counseling because the husband has been unfaithful. The wife is very hurt and angry. She starts yelling and pointing her finger at her husband saying “you cheated and you are the one who needs to fix this situation”.

The counselor will calmly ask the wife to stop. The counselor will then explain that pointing fingers and yelling is not allowed. The words can be expressed, but not though yelling and finger pointing.

Yelling at the husband won’t ly get a response that will work toward healing the relationship. They are there to heal the marriage, so communication of feelings is important, but it needs to be done in a way that helps the other spouse receive the message with an open heart. Yelling will only cause the other person to harden their heart toward their spouse.

Tough and sensitive topics come to light in these sessions. The counselor will work hard to make sure that couples do not interrupt one another, that voices are not raised, and that things remain calm in every session.

Tough topics can be discussed, and the counseling setting should be an emotionally safe place to open up. Your counselor will work to allow you to voice your side without getting attacked verbally or emotionally from the other side.

7. Seeking Marriage Counseling Does Not Mean You Have a Bad Marriage

Many good marriages seek out couples counseling. My husband and I have gone to couples counseling together on several occasions.

Our newborn son died during our first year of marriage. We attended counseling together to get through our grief, but at the same time, some marital issues came up and were addressed.

It was so helpful to have a counselor in our lives to help us through that difficult time. We found that the counseling we had then has been beneficial to our marriage in the many years since that time. The time and money invested was greatly beneficial to our marriage in the long run. Marriage counseling can do that for you as well.

Couples who seek counseling do so for a variety of reasons. It doesn’t always mean that they are there because they don’t have any other options or at the end of their marriage. Many couples go because they have problems or issues that they recognize could become bigger and more damaging to the marriage if not addressed now.

Some couples want to be proactive about their marriage and the small problems that crop up. They want to ensure that as a couple, they develop good communication and coping skills to handle smaller issues now; so that when bigger issues come up, they can handle them when they come.

There are other couples that go to improve their marriage. They want better ways of communicating and more emotional openness. The counselor can help couples develop better communication skills and they can help draw out emotional openness. Both of which can make a marriage happier in the long run.

8. Marriage Counseling Can Benefit All Marriages

Don’t wait to go to counseling until you are at the end of your rope. Seek counseling before you get to that point.

It is easier to resolve problems when they are just getting started. It is much harder to resolve problems that have been festering for years and couples have hardened hearts.

Do your marriage a favor and consider seeking counseling sooner than later. Every marriage can benefit from marriage counseling. If you are dealing with issues and problems now, consider seeking a counselor, because wouldn’t your marriage be even better if those issues were resolved sooner than later?

Featured photo credit: Gades Photography via unsplash.com

Источник: https://www.lifehack.org/804137/marriage-counselor

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