For whatever reason, couples therapy seems to have a negative connotation to it. Like many types of psychotherapy, people are often hesitant to see a therapist at first, and then are hesitant to admit to others that they’re seeing a therapist. It’s almost as if psychotherapy for emotional or mental support is something to be ashamed about.
The situation gets even more complicated when more than one person is involved — i.e., when a couple is having relationship problems and/or parenting and family issues. The stakes get higher, because a couple, and especially an entire family, depends on each other for support; if that support is broken and never fixed, the consequences can be disastrous.
Here are just a few simple reasons why couples therapy isn’t something to be scared of or embarrassed about:
- Good therapists who handle relationship problems approach the situation as coaches, rather than lecturers. They encourage both partners to share thoughts and feelings, and they work with each partner on individual problems (like anxiety or stress management) that are hurting the relationship. In other words, couples therapists aren’t there to tell you how to run your relationship — they’re there to teach you strategies that will help you work through problems as you encounter them.
- Couples therapy is meant to produce long-lasting results; the goal is to give the couple a foundation for problem-solving techniques that will be helpful for years to come. Couples therapists generally don’t intend to keep people in marriage counseling sessions for years on end; an overwhelming majority of psychotherapists actually love helping people, and they want to give others the resources to be happy.
- And finally, just like any other type of psychotherapy, and even any type of medical treatment, couples therapy is completely confidential. Patient confidentiality is protected by law in psychotherapy sessions, and even if you use a health insurance policy to help pay for the sessions — which many people do — no other third parties, like an employer, will have the ability to access that information without your permission. If you and your partner don’t want anyone else to know that you’re seeking help, then no one has to know!
Choosing to get help for relationship problems is a big decision; acknowledging that there are serious problems in a relationship is one of the hardest things for couples to do. But if you never give counseling a try, then you’ll never know for sure if it could save an entire relationship. Continue.