Signs You May Need Couples Therapy
If you’re experiencing any significant problems in your relationship, psychologists recommend seeking therapy early rather than waiting for the situation to worsen. Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D., writes, “Couples often wait until very late in the game to seek intervention and by then, one or both may have decided to call it quits.”
Taking action early shows commitment to your partner and a willingness to try different things to make the relationship work. When you’re with your partner, look out for some of the signs that you two could benefit from therapy:
- You frequently fight or bicker. Every couple is going to argue, but there are healthy and unhealthy ways of handling conflict. Yelling, passive-aggressive behaviors, or giving each other “the silent treatment” aren’t effective ways to solve disagreements.
- You want different things. If you and your partner don’t want the same things from the relationship, like marriage or children, talking with a therapist can help you two learn if your wants are compatible.
- You disagree about money. Nearly all couples will have some disagreement about financial matters. Couples may fight about how much money they can spend or worry about having enough finances for the future.
- You pretend everything is OK. Brushing off small issues or acting like things are “no big deal” can cause conflict and resentment to build up over time. A therapist can help you confront your partner and learn to stop bottling up negative feelings.
- You want a healthier relationship. There doesn’t need to be something negative going on for you to seek couples therapy! Maybe you and your partner are planning on moving in together and want advice, or perhaps you’ve been discussing the possibility of having a child. Learning how to appreciate, understand, and communicate with your partner can set you up for a long-term, healthy relationship.
Qualities of a Great Couples Therapist
However, all couples counselors are required to be educated and licensed. The main things that differentiate a good therapist and a bad therapist are their personalities, skills, and qualities. An effective couples therapist should have the following traits:
- Shows empathy and compassion towards others.
- Attentive listener.
- Non-judgmental and accepting.
- Strong communication skills.
- Good problem-solving skills.
- Helps you and your partner set relationship goals, but doesn’t set them for you.
How Can I Tell if Therapy is Effective?
- The therapist helps you see your relationship in a different light. By looking at your problems from a more objective point of view, you and your partner can get to the root of the issue and understand how the other person is feeling.
- Therapy changes the way you and your partner behave. A therapist should note any dysfunctional behaviors and find ways to prevent actions that could cause physical, psychological, or financial harm.
- Therapy allows free expression. If you or your partner are uncomfortable with expressing your feelings, going to therapy should help encourage both of you to open up and be totally honest with each other.
- Communication improves after therapy. You and your partner should learn the “3 C’s” of intimacy: closeness, communication, and commitment.
- Therapy should promote and encourage your strengths. When you and your partner become focused on your problems, it can be easy to ignore what parts of your relationship are going well. A great therapist can help you use your strengths to overcome difficult situations and build a strong foundation for a lasting relationship.