Is couples counselling worth it? The benefits of seeking couples counselling
Unfortunately, changes in your relationship – or external pressures – can create a range of challenges. Many couples begin to struggle with issues such as lack of intimacy, affairs, poor communication or constant arguments. The strain of this can further undermine your relationship.
When two people are struggling, it can be even more daunting to ask for assistance in resolving your relationship difficulties, especially when discussing deeply private matters. An increasing number of couples are realising that outside professional support is often the best way to get relationships back on track. One study found that there has been a 30% increase in couples in their 20s and 30s who sought help from relationship counselling in the UK since 2014.
Couples counselling can help people find their way back to a healthier, stronger relationship. At the very least, it can potentially ease you through a dignified divorce or separation.
Here, we explain the advantages of counselling for couples, how it’s delivered and the likelihood of a successful outcome. We also provide answers to commonly asked questions about getting relationship counselling.
Click on a link to jump to that section:
Read the key benefits of seeing a couples therapist.
Find out what to expect in a couples counselling session.
Read how successful couples counselling is according to statistics.
Find out how to ensure you get the most from couples therapy.
Read our tips on choosing the right couples therapist for you.
Is it worth going to a couples counsellor?
Some couples talk to a trusted relative or friend – or find someone in their circle to sit with both partners, to facilitate an honest and open exchange of views. However, many couples find these options don’t go far enough to heal a fractured or painful relationship.
Arranging to see a therapist specialising in relationship support provides a totally impartial and highly skilled source of support. Therapists personalise the help they give, remaining empathetic but unbiased. They also know the latest methods and exercises to help improve relationships and work through issues. Therapists will also suggest exercises you can try each day to make your relationship more stable and to be more considerate and conscious of each other’s needs.
What happens in a couples counselling session?
Finding the best couples therapist to match your individual goals is important. One of the biggest stumbling blocks to your progress will be the fear that this will be too hard, embarrassing or painful.
If you’re nervous about going to your first couples therapy session – try and remember that the therapist has been trained to put you both in a safe, non-judgemental place during sessions. They will demonstrate that your views and experiences are valid and important.
Counselling is also delivered at a pace that enables both partners to feel like they are properly heard.
You can expect the following from a couples counselling session:
- An initial session enables you to meet your therapist and outline what you believe the issues are and what goals you have. The professional couples counsellor will discuss a plan for how future sessions could be structured.
- Both at this introductory meeting and at future counselling sessions, you will be guided towards activities to help you in your daily life. These ‘homework’ exercises and improvement ideas can often be the most useful factor in healing relationships. You will also be encouraged to be conscious of – and even write down – issues you would like to address in future counselling sessions.
- You may have individual sessions with the relationship therapist to give you more time to address your concerns and goals and to aid their understanding of the issues.
- You and your partner will certainly be offered regular relationship counselling sessions to work through problems and find sustainable solutions.
Once you have achieved a healthier, stronger relationship, you can have follow-up sessions on a more infrequent basis to help you retain your new closeness.
Find out more about what is likely to happen in your first couples counselling session here.
What is the success rate of couples counselling?
This is hard to measure, as every couple has their own private goals and, therefore, ways of evaluating a successful outcome. However, a commonly discussed figure in this category of psychology is that 70% of couples benefit from a trained counsellor’s intervention.
Which couples get the most from couples counselling?
We cover information on getting the most out of couples therapy in our video and guide to relationship counselling.
If you engage in the process willingly, with realistic aims, then most relationships can potentially benefit.
However, some relationship problems make therapeutic help particularly valuable, including:
- Issues around communication – counselling can provide you with opportunities and tools to start listening and talking to each other more openly.
- Addiction – professional intervention can address both the issues behind the addiction and the impact it has on the other partner to find a sustainable path to recovery.
- Trauma – when mental health issues are involved, it can be even harder for couples to address their relationship struggles. A counsellor can help address the root cause, including traumas that trigger PTSD and depression.
- Affairs – one of the leading reasons people seek help from couples counsellors is a breakdown in trust. Counselling can address core issues and restore faith that the relationship has a future.
What to consider when choosing a couples counsellor
Professionals in this field are trained in specific types of therapy, though many have a counselling ‘toolbox’ and blend techniques to achieve the best outcomes. When choosing a therapist, you may want to have a look at their website to get a feel for the types of therapy they offer. You can find out more about the different types of therapy offered here.
You can also choose between online and in-person therapy. Many therapists offer online therapy for couples. Some couples find this a more comfortable and convenient way to benefit from therapy. You’re in your own home, and you choose a time when you have no distractions, which can make you feel more relaxed and may also be more convenient for your schedule.
An important factor that impacts whether your counselling is successful is whether you find an appropriately trained couples counsellor. Seeing a trained psychologist can be a great start, as psychologists often have the most experience and qualifications. Our psychologists have spent between seven and nine years training to enable people to overcome their emotional difficulties, and many hold senior positions in the NHS. Find out more about our team here.
If you feel like you’re ready to seek couples therapy or want to know more about what we can offer – contact us here.
Frequently asked questions
How is online couples therapy different from traditional couples therapy?
The techniques and tools will be the same, and you will still have set sessions for talking to a relationship therapist. Some couples find that taking time out of their daily routine and being in a fresh setting, with the therapist present, is best. Others feel more comfortable having therapy sessions online without having to factor in travel and scheduling issues.
What do you do if your partner refuses to go to marriage counselling?
Marriage and relationship counselling can’t work if one partner refuses to participate. However, your therapists can provide ideas for how to engage them in the process and ways to alleviate their concerns and reluctance.
Can couples therapy make things worse?
Every couple’s experience, needs and outcomes are different. Naturally, that means occasionally counselling can bring new problems to light or result in one or both partners feeling the obstacles are insurmountable. In this situation, counselling can help you both to manage the emotional strains of a divorce or separation.
Why are so many people sceptical about couples counselling?
It’s tough to ask for help and discuss your private experiences with a stranger. However, therapists expect you to be nervous about going to your first session, and pushing yourself to go with an open mind can help.
Can counselling really save a marriage?
The only people who can repair a relationship are the couple themselves! For many partnerships, counselling is the catalyst of positive change and a platform for creating a better and more sustainable marriage.
What to expect in your first couples counselling session