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What is Couples Therapy?

Updated on March 10, 2015

What is Couples Therapy?

Whether a couple is married or not, heterosexual or homosexual, couples therapy helps both partners to better understand one another and find ways to resolve conflict within the relationship. The goal of couples therapy is to provide the tools to develop better communication, negotiate differences and handle disputes or arguments in a healthy way.

Sometimes referred to as marriage therapy or marriage counseling, this type of therapy is offered by licensed marriage and family therapists. These licensed professionals provide mental health services similar to other counselors and therapists with an emphasis and focus on the specific needs of couples.

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"All couples, at one time or another, are likely to benefit from the assistance provided by couples therapy."

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Behaviors Which Indicate Couples Therapy Might be Necessary?

If one partner is developing a pattern of destructive behavior, it may be time to seriously consider couples therapy. For example, if one partner heads straight for the liquor cabinet as soon as they walk in the door from work, there may be a problem. Communication is vital to a healthy relationship. If a couple has not had a meaningful, deep conversation in several weeks, there may be a problem. Has the frequency of arguments escalated in the past few weeks and months? Whatever the particular situation, each couple or partner must decide if the problem requires couples therapy.

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How to Know if You Need Couples Therapy

There are many reasons a couple might seek out the services of a couples therapist. Problems with communications, anger, depression, sex, infidelity, substance abuse, even illness. These and many other problems may peeve to be very stressful to one or both partners in a relationship. If one or both of the partners experiences problems in a relationship, couples therapy or marriage counseling can do a great deal to help heal the wounds, resolve conflict and get each partner on the path to a healthier relationship.

Couples that feel the relationship is heading in a bad direction but neither partner is sure as to how to fix the relationship, then couples therapy may be just the thing. A good couples therapist or marriage counselor will know how to help rebuild the relationship or help make the decision to part ways.

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Find a Therapist or Counselor That Will be a Good Fit For You

Sometimes a couple will decide to go to a therapist or counselor together. Sometimes it may be just one partner who makes the decision. Either way, determine if a particular couples therapist or marriage counselor is right for a particular situation. Many therapists specialize in certain aspects of a relationship. For example, there are couples therapists who specialize in communication issues. Others may focus their practice on helping couples with sexual issues, specific problems with blended families, domestic abuse or financial difficulties.

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Non-Directive or Neutral Therapy

To find the couples therapist that is right for you, start by asking the therapist or counselor about their specific training and background. Determine their position on keeping a relationship together. Not all couples therapists work to help restore or provide tools for a couple to help make a better relationship or work toward a fix. Some therapists utilize the non-directive or neutral method of counseling in which the therapist will simply listen and help each partner go the way they think they should go, to find their own solution. Sometimes this neutral therapy allows the couple to see a way to get back together, sometimes it does not.

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Couples Therapist Background Check

• If a couple desires to remain together, it is important to select a therapist who will provide assistance, advice and tools to help a couple get back together. Find out about a therapist's past experience with couples.

• Ask specifically how a therapist would respond to a couple in crisis, specifically if one partner wants to save the relationship and the other partner does not.

• Take a good look at the therapist's track record, find out how many couples they have helped and if those couples have remained happy in their relationship.

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      Dean Reese 2 years ago

      I agree that there can be a lot of reasons for a couple to be interested in couple's therapy. My close friends are having a hard time during their marriage and are considering making an appointment. Personally, I think it would end up really helping them! http://kptherapy.vpweb.com/Counseling-Services.htm...

    • MKayo profile image
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      MKayo 5 years ago from Texas

      Maddie - I hope couples reading this will decide to seek out a professional therapist. Again, thanks for the read, comment and compliment! Best, M

    • Maddie Ruud profile image

      Maddie Ruud 5 years ago from Oakland, CA

      Excellent overview of couples therapy, what it is, and why/when you might need it!

      Many couples avoid seeking therapy because they think they should be able to work it out themselves, or because they think another person has no place in their relationship. It's important to remember that no person (or relationship) exists in a vacuum, and that seeking help when you need it is a sign of strength, rather than weakness.