Thinking about couples counseling? When intimate bonds fray, it’s typical for couples to tough it out without help for years. Only about 19% of distressed couples ever muster the courage to enter couples therapy.
These are the brave souls who aspire to do better… for themselves, and for their kids. And many of these couples have been miserable for 6 years or more.
Despite these sobering truths, science-based couples therapy such as the Gottman Method are incredibly effective. Another evidence-based method, Emotionally-Focused Therapy, has impressive success rates of 70% to 90%.
Couples therapy can be expensive, exhausting, educational, and exhilarating. If you’ve been kicking around the idea …how do you know if you are ready to start couples therapy?
But a competent science-based couples therapist will take great pains to normalize your plight, be a steward of hope, and shepherd the promise of recovery… even when you neither of you can.
Many couples struggle with the notion of weekly therapy sessions because it’s just too time-consuming. That’s why working online by HIPPA compliant video conference and weekend intensives are becoming increasingly popular.
By the time you enter couples counseling, you may have tried a few things on your own with disappointing results. Your fights are a sad inventory of scripted conflict that seems to repeat endlessly like Groundhog Day.
This is where science-based therapy comes in. A skilled couples therapist will form a strong therapeutic bond with each of you. They will deftly control the session, bring up fresh ideas, and specific suggestions. These suggestions may at first sound scary, silly, frightening, or a waste of time.
This is where your willingness to try something new is crucial. You will learn a new way to talk, a specific phrase to say to your spouse to repair where you use to escalate, apply relaxation techniques, or take a time-out when you’re getting flooded.
These behaviors may not feel natural at first….but haven’t your natural reactions brought you into this mess in the first place? Your willingness to try new ways of engaging with your spouse is the only way things real lasting change will happen.
And deep lasting change is what couples therapy is all about. Couples sometimes enter couples therapy with unrealistic expectations of joining with the therapist to gang up on their partner or look for the therapist to tell them whether or not they should divorce.
This is not the role of a therapist, or of the therapeutic process.
Your ability to focus on your own growth is a sign that you’re ready to change. It’s not unusual for couples to report that many of their other intimate relationships; children, siblings, or parents are positively impacted by their journey in couples therapy.
Daniel is a Marriage and Family Therapist. He currently sees couples at Couples Therapy Inc. in Boston, Massachusetts, three seasons in Cummington (at the foothills of the Berkshires...) and in Miami during joint retreats with his wife, Dr. Kathy McMahon. He uses EFT, Gottman Method, Solution-focused and the Developmental Model in his approaches.