If you are looking for a way to resolve a problem in your marriage, you may have considered exploring marriage counseling.
So, does marriage counseling work?
Does Marriage Counseling Work?
You may hear different opinions because there are many factors that go into making marriage counseling work. Commitment levels of each participant, therapist, therapeutic techniques, and how well each of you embrace change and improvement are a few of the factors in the equation.
Another factor in determining if marriage counseling works is based on how you define success. Furthermore, your understanding and expectations of marriage counseling are considered relative to success.
Before discussing these factors in more detail, it is important to dig deeper into the definition and statistics of marriage counseling.
Marriage Counseling Facts
Seventy-five percent of participants in marriage counseling report success. To confirm this, the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists conducted a survey and found that over 95 percent of participants felt marriage counseling was beneficial.
Many find marriage counseling beneficial even if it eventually leads to a couple divorcing.
The definition of marriage counseling, often called couples therapy, is when you work with a licensed marriage and family therapist, one who is a licensed therapist, with a specialty focus area in helping couples.
Marriage counselors help you work on all the common issues including anger, mental health issues, addiction, communication and much more. However, they work on these issues with both you and your partner at the same time.
They do this in much shorter time than if you were attending individual counseling. Some couples need only a few sessions, depending on how soon you begin treatment. Those who seek help when their troubles are in the infancy stage may be able to complete treatment sooner.
While Marriage counselors are important, they cannot produce successful results on their own. You and your partner are the ultimate keys to whether you will be successful in therapy. Below are some of the ways you can make marriage counseling work for your relationship.
Discuss Your Expectations of Counseling
Your attitude regarding marriage counseling can make a difference. If you expect something to work, it usually will. If you expect it not to work, you are right here also. Your expectations should be more than just positive, they should be realistic.
Marriage counselors are not miracle workers that can produce fairy tale outcomes. They can, however, help you and your partner set goals and reach them within a limited time frame.
Your expectations should be based on improvements, both individually and as a couple. For example, one expectation could be to improve communication between you and your partner. This is an area you can set goals and measure your progress in reaching this goal.
Reaching goals comes only with the commitment of both you and your partner.
Determine Commitment Levels
If only one of you are truly committed to making marriage counseling work, you will not reach success. In fact, you may be driven further apart because one of you will be making efforts to better yourself while the other is not changing.
Without the willingness and eagerness for change, you will see little positive results. However, if both of you are committed to the process, committed to having an open mind, and committed to learning, success can be found.
Success can mean many things to many people. For some couples, success will mean staying together and becoming closer mentally and physically. For others, success will mean improved communication and intimacy.
Yet still for some, success can mean how to separate and divorce in a positive way, especially when children are involved.
You and your partner must be on the same page when it comes to your definition of success.
Do What Your Therapist Suggests
Your therapist is in “the practice of marriage and family therapy and shall mean that service performed with individuals, couples, or groups wherein interpersonal relationships are examined for the purpose of achieving more adequate, satisfying, and productive marriage and family adjustments. This practice includes relationship and premarriage counseling” (BBS). They have worked many hours gaining the knowledge on how to help your relationship. Listen to them. They have seen it all and heard it all and they are not going to judge any parts of your relationship.
Therapists will often suggest activities to do outside of therapy that can bring you and your partner closer. Take their suggestions and complete homework assignments. Your therapist is trying to provide you with the right tools to help your relationship for a lifetime, not just for the hour you are in counseling.
Discuss the Right Things
While your therapist would be interested in hearing everything about your relationship and its difficulties, there is just not enough time each week. Prioritizing what to discuss will help you reach success earlier.
In addition, therapy is not a time to demean or belittle your partner. It is also not a good time to promote yourself.
Therapy should focus on each of you taking responsibility for your thoughts, feelings and actions. Your therapist should be able to direct you in how to change yourself, not someone else, which is nearly impossible to do anyway.
Therapy will work best if you focus on discussions that will improve how you can change and better yourself to improve the relationship.
In the beginning, you may feel like you do not want to share all of your difficulties with a therapist you barely know. The sooner you can get to the deeper, more personal issues within your relationship, the sooner you will see progress.
Allow yourself to be vulnerable in therapy. Allow yourself to be open. Trust your therapist.
Sticking with surface level issues will prevent you from moving forward in your relationship. Once the deeper problems are dealt with, the surface level issues will resolve on their own. They are simply symptoms of much larger problems.
Therefore, it is important to open yourself up to fixing the major issues first.
In conclusion, marriage counseling does work. The statistics show it. The most important factors of making marriage counseling work is based on what you and your partner contribute to the process. Together, you can see success.