How Couples Counselling Help Your Relationship?
Five years ago, The New York Times published an intriguing article on a still hotly-debated issue on whether couples counselling really work. The article, “Does Couples Therapy Work?”is just one of several more on this issue, which are premised on the challenges of counselling therapy for both the couple and the therapist.
Whether or not counselling services help or make matters worse continue to reel as a big question among experts and couples. But before one can truthfully say which is the right answer, the key (data-driven) factors that influence the success or not of marriage counselling must be considered first.
Before we embark on a deeper discussion of this topic, it pays understanding the whole idea around couples therapy or marriage counselling.
What’s In A Name
Some calls it couples therapy, others refer to it as marriage counselling or relationship counselling. But whatever name couples therapy is called, there’s nothing in it that sounds terrific or exciting to grab.
But don’t fret on whatever fears or reservations you might have on what commonly happens during a relationship counselling session.
For many people, the very idea of counselling can come off as terrifying or frightening. Dreadful first appointment? You bet! But a little education on what you can expect can loosen up the fright a bit.
Counselling by the Numbers
Guidedoc.com’s Racheal Tasker shares some interesting data to answer the often-asked question on whether marriage therapy actually work. By knowing some statistical figures, Tasker says, you can get a pretty good hint on what to do next about your marriage or relationship with your espouse.
High Satisfaction Rate among Couples Attending Marriage Counselling. There’s a high satisfaction rate reported by families and couples who have attended family or marriage counselling sessions, according to a research conducted by the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists.
Over 98 percent of respondents rated good or excellent the relationship counselling they participated in while over 97 percent received the help they needed. Out of the total respondents, 93 percent said they are now more prepared to face their problems.
Couples Counselling More Effective than Solo Counselling. When it comes to the amount of time it takes to complete a relationship therapy, data show that against individual therapy, family or couples therapy is faster and proven to be more effective.
The rationale is that unlike individual counselling, couples who go for a therapy together allow them to work dynamically on the activities given by the therapists, which in effect leads to successful completion of the session; and it take only an average of three sessions to complete.
The result is less expenses for the couples while allowing them to have more time to patch things up than complete go their own separate ways.
Couples Seeking Therapy Earlier Gets Better Result. Therapists who were asked the question “could couples therapy help?” most often agree that the sooner the better. When couples wait until their marriage is already at the rocks before seeking a therapist, the result is often unsatisfactory.
At the latter stage, couples are typically bitter and abusive in their communication. Therapists, which may struggle to help couples patch their relationship woes, may eventually need to learn new techniques in marriage counselling.
Hence for marriage therapy to be successful requires married couple to approach their therapists even at the slightest hints of relationship squabbles.
Don’t Believe Everything About Divorce Statistics. Always consider the context and other important factors before believing some data you heard or read about the correlation between marriage and divorce.
Keep in mind that some data being used or publicised around may no longer be updated. So if you read somewhere that 50 percent of marriage ends up in divorce, better check the year this was reported. What may be true in the 1970s about the rate of divorce may no longer hold to be true in the 1980s or 1990s.
Thus, many factors may have influenced the rate of divorce now that we’re in 2017 than it were in 2001. So don’t give up easily!
Does Counselling Services Lead to Divorce? There can never be a right or wrong answer to the question whether marriage or relationship counselling can you’re your marriage.
But there are many ways to tell when a therapy works. Say, convincing a couple that they are not in a healthy relationship and by giving them all the reasons why they should still pursue their marriage all for the sake of their children, can be counted as successful.
Some research pointed out there’s approximately a quarter of couples who receive marriage report that their marriage is worse two years after ending their counselling sessions.
Meanwhile, there are nearly 40 percent of couples who opted for counselling get divorced within four years of completing their marriage therapy.
On the other hand, findings released by the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy was more optimistic, revealing that counselling therapy help seven out of ten couples find great satisfaction in their marriage.
These statistics and research offer some illuminating realities about marriage, including why some people now turned to other alternatives to counselling for couples.
Really, Does Marriage Counselling Help or Not?
Perhaps. Perhaps not. But the success or failure of couples therapy are influenced by so many factors. When counselling does not work, the couples should not blame the therapist only because it is a relationship between the couples and the therapist.
A marriage counsellor’s role is to help enlighten couples about their situation and prospect for their marriage to succeed. But it should be reiterated that your counsellor is a consultant; hence, it is not the marriage counsellor’s responsibility to ‘fix’ the marriage because he or she is not a ‘fixer.’
Take note too that some couples consider marriage counselling as another name to call ‘divorce counselling’ because they’ve already surrendered to make their marriage work.
Here comes the importance of the motivation level of both partners. When the drive to make marriage counselling work, the session will become ineffective to solve the marital misery.
HuffingtonPost.com’s Terry Gaspard, a licensed clinical social worker and college instructor, list down conditions that spell disaster during marriage counselling:
- When the marital problems are too ingrained and longstanding.
- One or both couples have divorce set in their minds and only want to use the counselling service just a platform to announce this to their partner.
- Addiction to vices or mental illness that has not been treated prior to the counselling sessions.
- One or both couples already suffered long enough from verbal and physical abuse and ending their relationship through divorce would ensure their safety and self-esteem.
- One or both partners are uncooperative to the therapist giving them activities or assignment to reverse whatever relationship woes they suffer from.
- There is not a good fit between the therapist and the couple, or the therapist is not the right expert to help remedy the relationship problems of the couple.
On the other side of the fence, here are some good reasons how couples counselling help couples:
- Couples with a more positive outlook about their relationship will be driven by the desire to look at their problems from a new perspective.
- Motivated partners can learn new ways to recognize and resolve their riffs out of the ways suggested by their therapists for them to try out or use.
- They will learn to put aside “baggage” that blocks their path to move on from their mistakes and help them walk through tough issues.
- Through the renewal of vows, couples are more energized to rebuild their marriage.
- Couples’ communication and interaction patterns could be improved from bitter to more trusting of one another.
Truth be told, getting a divorce agreement may be necessary and even a healthier choice among couples. But for others who wish to save whatever is left of the marriage, they are willing to commit to the process of counselling services.
Through marriage counselling, the partners may be able to rediscover why in the first place they fell in love with one another and keep them that way.
Could marriage counselling be effective in resolving marital conflict, and even more particularly, makes the relationship once again burning in flame?
Yes, but for marriage therapy to work, there must be willingness on the part of the couples to take responsibility for their part in the problems.
The couples also need to accept each other’s faults, be motivated to move on from their conflicts to pave the way for their relationship to get repaired.
The process of change for restored relationships cannot be achieved overnight. Both couples will need to commit to accept their situation and have a more realistic expectations.
There’s undoubtedly no definitive guidebook to rebuilding a marriage or relationship. Counselling is not for everyone and counsellors come in with different credentials and backgrounds, hence they’re going to have different views and approach when resolving your marital crisis.
In sum, use what we discussed above as your guide on how you can become better at listening to your therapist, improve your communication, lessen the destructive ways of your interaction to your partners, and to have a more positive ways of supporting and loving your partner.
Marriage counselling can work good on both you, your partner and your therapist, so long as everyone of you are going to invest in helping everyone sort things out.
Carment Bean is a blogger and infopreneur who writes on various topics mainly about therapy tips and relationship building. At present, she works on behalf of bethesdacounselling.com.au