Key Takeaways

  • Couples therapy is a solution-oriented therapeutic approach that helps couples resolve conflict and improve their relationships. 
  • Poor communication, major life events, and trust issues are just a few of the reasons that couples decide to seek professional mental health support. 
  • Research shows that couples therapy has a positive impact on the majority of people who seek treatment, but client-therapist fit and willingness to participate in sessions can influence the effectiveness of care. 

Conflict is a normal part of close relationships, and all couples have disagreements. Even happy couples may still argue about money, intimacy, each other’s bothersome habits, and the stress of daily life. The key to relationship success is knowing how to effectively communicate your concerns and constructively manage conflict. That’s where couples therapy can help. Couples therapy is a solution-oriented therapeutic approach that helps couples resolve conflict and improve their relationships.

Five signs you could benefit from couples therapy

Couples therapy can be an effective tool for any couple that is struggling to communicate or manage relationship concerns. Here are some of the most common reasons people start couples therapy. 

1. Communication issues

Poor communication can lead to resentment, misunderstandings, and tension. If you and your partner frequently disagree or your conversations quickly turn into arguments, couples therapy can help you develop healthier communication skills. Therapy can be particularly helpful for couples who were raised with different communication styles or are struggling to make difficult decisions. 

2. Life transitions

Major life events are often exciting, but they can also be stressful. Couples therapy is a great resource for people who are learning to navigate life transitions, like becoming a parent, switching careers, or relocating.

3. Trust issues

Trust is at the foundation of any healthy relationship, and if a couple’s trust is broken, they may struggle to maintain an open and honest relationship. Whether it’s infidelity, abuse, or substance use issues, therapy can help couples address their problems and rebuild trust and respect. 

4. Unresolved conflict

If it feels like you and your partner are having the same fights over and over but you never reach a conclusion, consider seeking professional help. Therapists can help you address conflict and any underlying issues that may be contributing to the issue.

5. Lack of intimacy

Intimacy is a feeling of closeness and connection with another person. We often think of intimacy as something sexual, but it also refers to emotional, spiritual, and intellectual connection. If you’re struggling to feel close with your partner, therapy can help you figure out whether the connection is still right for you. It can also help you manage any negative thoughts or feelings that might be preventing intimacy. 

When to seek couples counseling

Everyone’s relationship is different, but many professionals agree that it’s never too early to begin couples therapy if you know there are problems or pain points in your relationship. By taking a more proactive approach to therapy, couples have a better chance of addressing their concerns and resolving their issues. Recent research suggests that, of couples who seek professional support, the majority begin counseling within two years of the start of serious relationship problems.

Does couples therapy work?

Research shows that couples therapy positively impacts 70% of couples who receive treatment. It can be effective for reducing relationship distress, addressing sexual difficulties, and navigating infidelity. And for people who prefer the convenience, comfort, and easy access of online care, virtual therapy is an effective option for couples. 

That said, several factors may influence whether therapy will help a couple. To start, both people must be willing to dedicate time, energy, and effort to heal the relationship. If one or both people aren’t committed to therapy, the couple may not see much progress. 

Another reason that couples therapy might not work is a poor client-therapist fit. Esther Perel is a couples therapist known for her work on human relationships. According to her, “at the heart of therapy lies the relationship between the patient and the therapist, [so] finding the right fit is key.” 

For example, if you’re in therapy to overcome infidelity, you’ll want a therapist who has experience with this issue. And members of the LGBTQ+ community will likely benefit from a therapist who understands how to provide care for people with diverse gender expressions and sexual identities.

Benefits of couples therapy

Couples therapy offers people a safe and confidential outlet to address their relationship concerns. Whether you’re interested in strengthening your connection or seeking guidance on a serious issue, therapy can help you learn how to create a healthier and more satisfying relationship. Some of the other leading benefits of couples therapy include:

  • Improved communication skills
  • Better understanding of harmful relationship patterns and how to replace them with healthier habits
  • Revived romance and intimacy (both physical and emotional)
  • Increased vulnerability and willingness to honestly share feelings and emotions 
  • Remembering how to appreciate your partner 
  • Increased empathy, mutual understanding, and respect 

What to expect in couples counseling

Couples therapy typically involves honest discussions and activities to help both people gain clarity about the relationship. To start, your therapist will ask you and your partner to discuss your relationship history, current concerns, and goals for therapy. Based on that information, they’ll identify specific techniques and interventions to help you strengthen your communication skills, feel more connected, and meet your goals. 

It’s also common for therapists to speak to each member of the couple individually during the initial stages. This can help them better understand each partner’s concerns and make sure there are no safety risks.

Many times, therapists use therapy exercises based on real-life situations. For example, they may ask you to role-play a scenario so they can show you alternative ways to resolve the conflict. Other activities include active listening, exploring love languages, keeping a gratitude journal, and doing problem-solving exercises.

The timeline for therapy depends on the couple. Some people work through their issues in a few months, while other couples continue therapy on a long-term basis. 

Find care with Rula

If you and your partner are struggling to connect, consider seeking professional support. Couples counseling provides a safe space for couples to resolve conflict and improve their relationships so they can feel happier together.

At Rula, we’re here to make it easier to connect with the right therapist for your needs. To start the process, we invite you to explore our therapist-matching program. In just a few minutes, we can connect you with a therapist who is accepting new clients and takes your insurance — all from the comfort of home. And, our diverse network of over 8,000 therapists means you can be seen as early as this week. 

More From Rula

April 18, 2024
What causes low self-esteem? Six ways to feel better about yourself

If you have low self-esteem, there are things you can do to boost your confidence.

April 17, 2024
Understanding existential anxiety and how to cope

For people with existential anxiety, life’s big questions can cause extreme distress.