When is it Time for Couples Counseling?

By: Chris Anderson Psy.D.

Historically, couples counseling was often the last stop on the bus on the road to divorce. For many of those couples, it was too little too late. Trying couples counseling after retaining a divorce attorney has a low chance of success when a person is already checked out of the relationship and has a foot out the door. Younger generations are more receptive to help. They see the value of therapy and are embracing the opportunity to learn skills and improve their relationship. Many are even seeking pre-marital therapy to help ward off future problems. It’s probably a good idea to seek couples counseling if problems are unresolved, the same problems keep recurring, or if resentments are building.

What Happens in the First Session?

The first session, a diagnostic intake, is intended to evaluate both parties. The therapist is trying to get a history of family, medical, social, occupational, chemical, and mental health issues, as well as each person’s concerns about the relationship. Part of this initial assessment is also about defining goals, explaining the therapist’s approach, and determining if it fits all involved.

Does the Therapist Fix Us and Solve Our Problems?

Many people come in seeking validation for their point of view or hope the therapist will make their partner “see the light”. A good couples counselor is not there to be the judge and jury. If your therapist is fixing all your problems, it will only foster dependence on the therapist. Their job is to teach you guys how to solve your problems. A big part of this goal is learning good communication skills. It’s important to learn how to get past the content (what we are fighting about) and master the process (how we fight). A solid approach to tackling and resolving issues is key to relationship success.

Does Couples Counseling Work?

The majority of couples surveyed (97%) said they found couples counseling helpful. Upwards of 80% said therapy had a positive effect on their relationship. Most couples average 12-20 sessions and even if things don’t end up working out, they still walk away with tools that will help with future relationships. In the 1980’s couples counseling had a success rate of about 50%. These days counseling has a 70% success rate. Newer techniques and tools along with couples being more proactive are helping to increase the odds of success.

If you are interested in looking at improving your relationship, feel free to contact IPC so you can schedule an appointment with one of our providers for a more thorough assessment.  Please call us now at 763-416-4167, or request an appointment on our website: WWW.IPC-MN.COM so we can sit down with you and complete a thorough assessment and help you develop a plan of action that will work for you. Life is too short to be unhappy. Find the peace of mind you deserve.

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