- Couples therapy — sometimes called relationship counseling — focuses on the health of a romantic relationship. In this type of therapy, the couple is the client.
- Partners in all sorts of relationship styles and stages can benefit from therapy. You don’t have to be facing a crisis or possible separation to do couples therapy.
- Couples enter therapy together for all sorts of reasons. Some common goals for couples therapy include improving communication and problem-solving, deepening or repairing trust, or navigating major transitions.
What is couples therapy?When most people hear the term “couples therapy,” they typically picture the traditional model: two members of a romantic couple meeting with a therapist to work on relational issues. While this is certainly a common scenario, couples therapy can support many different relationship models, including:
- Polyamorous relationships
- LGBTQ+ relationships
- Open relationships
- New relationships
- Age-gap relationships
How does couples therapy work?As with other forms of mental healthcare, one of the most important factors in couples therapy is the relationship between the therapist and the clients. This is also called the therapeutic relationship. Couples therapists do not “take sides.” Their role is to act as a guide, to facilitate meaningful conversations, and to create a safe space for vulnerability. At times, they may act as a mediator, setting boundaries when tensions flare or as an educator when there’s a need to work on skill building. By modeling consistent care and support, without judgment, a couples therapist helps their clients feel seen, valued, and understood. Couples therapists may draw from a variety of approaches and many use an eclectic mix of interventions and activities in sessions, depending on what the couple needs and prefers. Some of the most common couples therapy approaches include:
- The Gottman method
- Emotionally-focused therapy (EFT)
- Solution-focused therapy
- Narrative therapy
- Imago relationship therapy
Is couples therapy right for me?It can be challenging to determine what form of therapy is right for you. If you’re considering couples therapy, keep in mind that in this form of therapy, the client is the couple. So during sessions, the focus remains on whatever is impacting the relationship instead of strictly individual concerns. Factors like a person’s trauma history, attachment style, or mental health condition undoubtedly impact relationship dynamics. But often those concerns are best addressed in individual therapy where treatment focuses on one person’s growth and well-being. Oftentimes, people attend individual and couples therapy concurrently, usually seeing different providers. Couples therapy can be helpful for people in all different stages of their relationship, not just those at risk of separation or divorce. Because no matter how long you’ve been together or what challenges you’re facing, you can always work toward a healthier relationship. What matters most is that everyone is willing to be fully present and participate, knowing that there will be some ups and downs throughout the experience. You and your partner(s) don’t have to have a clearly defined vision for success in couples therapy before you start — your therapist can help you identify goals to work towards. You just need to be willing to engage in self-reflection, experiment with new ways of connecting, and want to work towards a stronger relationship, whatever that looks like for you and your partner(s).
What kinds of concerns does couples therapy address?People seek couples therapy to work on all types of relationship concerns. What you and your partner(s) decide to address in therapy might be completely different from those in another relationship. But some of the most common issues people come to couples therapy for include:
- Communication issues
- Infidelity or trust problems
- Conflicts over finances
- Parenting disagreements
- Navigating major life transitions
- Feeling disconnected or growing apart
- Sexual or intimacy issues
- Frequent arguing and trouble reaching a resolution
Finding the right couples therapist with RulaIf you’re considering couples therapy, you’ve already taken an important step toward strengthening your relationship. By setting aside regular time to invest in each other, you and your partner(s) can improve your communication, learn to navigate conflict in healthier ways, and deepen your love and respect for each other. At Rula, we take the headache and confusion out of finding the right couples therapist so that you devote your time and energy to each other. Our matching tool can quickly match you with a therapist who specializes in working with couples like you and who takes your insurance.
More From Rula
Sex therapy can help improve your sex life and relationships.
The childhood trauma test can help you identify trauma and get the help you need.