For some people, the thought of couples counselling is an admission of failure and is filled with shameful stigma. However, couples therapy is actually a sign of strength in a relationship, where partners are willing to go on a journey into the unconscious of their relationship so that they can set it on the right path again. Couples wait an average of 6 years before they seek help in their relationship, during which critical damage can be done, which is why it is important to destigmatise couples counselling and encourage couples to seek help.
Conflicts that can lead a couple to counselling
One of the main reasons for seeking couples therapy is communication issues. Communication issues stem from underlying interpersonal problems that one or both partners have. This can result in withdrawal, arguing and lack of affection as a result, which can cause resentment and further communication issues. Communication issues can stem from each partner’s experiences and development which affects how they relate to others. Couples therapy helps to uncover the cause of communication issues, withdrawal and resulting symptoms.
Lack of emotional affection
Relationships can turn sour when there is a lack of emotional affection or intimacy. This in turn leads to emotional instability of each partner, unhappiness and loneliness in the relationship. Life transitions and personal stress can place relationships under strain as each partner deals with stressors differently, and some can become withdrawn from those around them which leads to lack of affection towards their partner. Partners can also trigger emotional trauma in one another without realising, often relating to the affected person’s past experiences and psychological development.
Improving relationship for the sake of children
One major motivation for improving a relationship is for the sake of children. As frequently discussed throughout our blog posts, our relationships and attachments as children are important predictors in our development and behaviours as adults. It is therefore not surprising that many parents feel a responsibility to maintain a healthy relationship with one another so that their children develop in a healthy environment. They may seek therapy for the benefit of their child, and either directly or indirectly, for themselves.
Fear of divorce or separation
Many couples seek therapy as a final solution to a relationship they believe is on its last legs. After a long period of relationship conflict, couples can begin to feel a sense of hopelessness for improvement and turn to a therapist for a solution. A therapist can be very helpful in providing an outsider’s perspective on the relationship and can help the couple understand how their own experiences in life have influenced and shaped their relationships with others. They can help the couple uncover any obstacles from their past that may be intruding on their relationship, often unconsciously.
Carson, David & Casado-Kehoe, Montserrat. (2011). Case Studies in Couples Therapy: Theory Based Approaches. Case Studies in Couples Therapy: Theory-Based Approaches – Google Books
Doss, Brian, Simpson, Lorelei & Christensen, Andrew. (2004). Why Do Couples Seek Marital Therapy?. Professional Psychology – Research & Practice, 35(6), 608-614. APA PsycNet