Seeking Professional Help For Couples, Though Initially Uncomfortable, Is An Opportunity To Save Your Relationship
Are you thinking of settling down with someone special? Do you ever feel that the same problems between you and your partner keep coming back over the years? Are you and your spouse going through crises that seem to pop up one after the other? Is your husband going through something that you cannot exactly describe? Does it feel like there is someone else in his life? Is your partner going through a depression? Are you at the crossroads of coupled-up life? These and others are good reasons for Couples Therapy. Read on for the many reasons and benefits you can get from talking over your thoughts and issues with a counselor.
What is Couples Therapy?
Couples therapy is a form of psychotherapy for couples, married or not, who want to know how to be better in their relationship. It is done by a credentialed professional helper, who has at least a master’s degree in psychology or counseling and has an established practice. Depending on the case, couples therapy can be short- or long-term.
Couples therapy helps the partners in making thoughtful decisions about their situation. Usually, this involves conjoint sessions (with both of them present) and individual sessions for each of the partner. It is the therapist who maps out a plan and sets the goals together with the couple.
Does it Mean We Are Crazy if We Go for Couples Therapy?
Seeking professional help for couples, though initially uncomfortable, is actually an opportunity to save your relationship. Contrary to such efforts being stigmatized, Couples Therapy is an investment for yourselves individually and together as a couple. Seeing it as a waste of time and resources is depriving yourself of an opportunity for growth.
Part of Couples Therapy is the journey into yourselves individually and as spouses. You may be in for a surprise as you discover yourselves and know that there are many ways to be better as a person and as a spouse.
When Do We Need This?
The points in your life when you are confused or overwhelmed mean you and your spouse need help. This is no different from seeking medical attention, except that this time, your concerns are mental and/or emotional. As much as you may want to believe that you know how to handle your problems, it is still best to seek someone who can guide you through your situation.
Ask for referrals when choosing a therapist. Try to find out how he/she works and what the credentials are. Preferably, look for someone who is established within your community to ease up on the commute. Discuss with your partner about the possible options and why. Agree to try at least once and go on from there. It is important for both spouses to be committed to therapy.
Other than professional credentials, which is a basic requirement, both of you as the clients also need to observe and concur whether your therapist is doing a good job. Initially, look for objectivity and a non-judgmental attitude. Rather than taking sides, the therapist must offer a listening ear to both of you. The therapist knows how to establish rapport and safety during session hours. This means that you both feel secure about revealing information regarding your background. Confidentiality is to be expected of a professional.
A therapist does not make any decision for the clients. The main purpose is to have someone to journey with you in your stories, who can sometimes act as your guide or at other times be an observer as you take your own strides.
What to Expect in Every Session
There will be initial joint sessions followed by individual sessions for each one. After this, the therapist determines when you will be ready again for Couples Therapy. You can expect to enjoy the sessions as you learn about yourselves and each other. Other times, you will both be challenged, made to face issues that you may have been avoiding and helped to make important decisions for your life.
If your situation involves significant individual issues such as addiction, depression, and other mental or emotional disorders, you can count on your therapist to make the necessary recommendations and tests for such needs.
Seeking couples therapy does not necessarily mean that you will stay together for good. In some cases, the decision is made to either work together for your relationship or to end it by going your separate ways. Still, therapy allows you to make conscious closures of pending issues. Both will also learn how to ease up on the choices that have to be made in the process. Couples Therapy results in giving direction and hope for the spouses.
Benefits from Couples Therapy
The first to benefit from going to Couples Therapy other than yourselves are your children. Better communication is easily noticeable. An inviting home creates security. Hope gives birth to peace that leads to better relationships. It is never too late to seek help. The important first step is to give it a try.
OUR LOVE AND SEX EXPERT
Zenia Lim-Panahon is a director of the Philippine Association of Christian Counselors. For more than 15 years, she has been coaching individuals, couples, and families. You may reach her at [email protected]