Some Thoughts About Couples Counseling

10 Reasons to give Couples Counseling a Try

   

  1. It's just possible that a third party who is objective,  professionally trained and has experience with these kinds of problems,  may be able to offer you the guidance and insight necessary to improve  your circumstances. 
  2. Emotions can and will change. You won't always feel this angry and this hurt. Give yourself a chance to experience the change.
  3. As uniquely unpleasant and painful as you may believe your  circumstances to be, many other couples before you have (and many  couples after you will) overcome very similar situations and go on to  have fulfilling relationships.
  4. It's less emotionally difficult than terminating a relationship and living with the aftermath.
  5. If you have children, you owe it to them to do everything possible  to salvage their family and provide the healthiest family environment  that you can. This takes WORK!
  6. You owe it to each other. Remember your vows? This is the part about  "sickness." Right now your relationship is not too healthy, but it can  be restored to health.
  7. You owe it to yourself to know that you have tried everything within  your power to make things better and that includes getting some  professional help.
  8. Even though it doesn't seem like it right now, at some point in your  relationship things were working fairly well (Proof that emotions do  change). That could happen again.
  9. Sometimes the "enemy" you know is much better than the "enemy" you don't.
  10. It's both financially and emotionally a lot cheaper than ending the relationship with attorneys.

Couples Counseling

Approximately half of the clients who come to see me  are coming for Couples counseling, and the vast majority of those  couples are in traditional marriages. The challenges they are  experiencing range from minor differences about running the household,  to communication problems, to financial arguments, family conflict and  all the way to problems with trust and infidelity. Each type of these  problems is very unique and requires that the therapist clearly  understand the background of what has led to the current conflict the  couple is experiencing.
 

Recognizing that when couples come for  counseling, one of them is usually a little more willing to be there  than the other, I believe it is necessary for the couple to make an  honest commitment to giving the counseling process a chance to work. One  of the things that is a little different in my counseling practice is  that I require couples who come to see me for counseling to commit to at  least three sessions. This gives each of them a chance to get  comfortable talking about their relationship with a counselor, give  their individual sides of the story, and get some initial feedback and  "homework" to strengthen their relationship. After three sessions they  are free to decide whether or not to continue, and whether they believe  counseling will be of help to them. I believe this is fair to all  involved, but especially to each individual in the couple. In fact, I  have had many clients thank me for providing this kind of structure as  they believe it helped improve and possibly even save their  relationship. As a rough estimate, most couples are usually able to  resolve their differences and see significant improvement in their  relationship after an average of six to ten sessions, although some may  continue longer depending on the nature of their concerns.
 

 Another challenge that I frequently give to couples is to go beyond  describing their relationship difficulties with phrases like "we don't  communicate." When clients buy into the belief that they "don't  communicate" they are inadvertently misleading themselves about the true  nature of their conflict. They miss the fact that there is no such  thing as NOT communicating. Not communicating is Impossible! Even a  couple who aren't speaking to one another ARE communicating by the very  fact that they aren't speaking to one another. Rather than "not  communicating" the problem is usually in the "quality" of the  communication. In other words the couple may not like WHAT is being  communicated or HOW it's being communicated. Once this distinction is  made and acknowledged couples often start to improve the quality of what  and how they are communicating. From here healthy changes can come to  even the most troubled and "stuck" relationships. 

My Qualifications and Professional Beliefs

 I have been in professional practice for 32 years  now. My initial training was in Marriage and Family Therapy at Syracuse  University. From there I have received training in Solution  focused/brief therapy and in both Imago therapy and in the Gottman  method. These are two approaches to counseling couples that have been  shown to be empirically very helpful to relationship building. I also  bring a healthy dose of Cognitive therapy into  my work with couples, which helps each individual to stop blaming the  other for their unpleasant feelings, and empowers them to adopt  different perspectives which can lead to constructive solutions to their  problems.
 

With the exception of domestic violence, chronic  and reoccurring infidelity, and persistent alcohol and chemical  dependency, I am a strong believer in doing all that can be done to help  a couple resolve their relationship difficulties and remain together.  Although by the time they come to my office they may have forgotten,  most couples had relationships at one point that were working fairly  well. Somehow, somewhere along the line they just may have "gotten off  the track" and need some help getting things back on track. I am an  optimist when it comes to the prospect of rekindling love and compassion  in a relationship. But I am also a pragmatist and believe love is best  expressed in ACTIONS. Love Is A Verb!
 

As for my own personal  experience in marriage, I have been married for over 32 years at the  time of this writing, and am looking forward to deepening my love and  affection for my wife for the rest of our lives. No marriage or  relationship is ever perfect, and there are always bumps in the road to  be overcome. But with patience and perseverance all things are possible  and all problems can be overcome.