Marriage and couple counseling divides in two parts one before marriage guidance to couples and one after marriage. Marriage and couple counseling help couple to understand each other, resolve their conflicts and how to maintain happy marriage. Infidelity is problem that comes in most couples in that one partner involve in someone other except husband/wife; marriage and couple counselor help couples to deal with that and maintain marriage with trust again.
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Marriage counseling, also known as couples counseling, relationship counseling, or couples therapy, is a form of therapy that supports people in intimate relationships. Therapy may be helpful for partners considering separation or seeking improved intimacy and understanding. While the relationship itself is the focus in marital counseling, each partner is expected to pay attention to self-improvement and self-awareness.
It can be helpful to consider whether the marriage counselor is a good fit for both partners before scheduling a couples therapy session. It is important to choose a marriage counselor who:
When seeking relationship counseling, many couples try to find a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) in their area. LMFTs are licensed by the state, have advanced training and certification in couples therapy, and are often credentialed by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT).
Approaches and techniques used in couples therapy can vary depending on the training of the marriage counselor and the issues experienced by the couple seeking treatment. Some common therapeutic approaches in couples counseling include:
The purpose of couples counseling is helping partners learn more about each other and acquire healthy problem-solving skills. The marriage counselor or LMFT may interview both partners, together or individually, during the first few meetings. Afterward, they may provide feedback. The couple may set therapeutic goals with the guidance of the therapist and develop a plan for therapy so each person knows what to expect. In couples therapy, positive results often depend on the couple’s motivation and dedication to the process.
As treatment progresses, each partner may become a better listener and communicator. Partners also often learn to support each other new ways. It is not uncommon for conflict to arise in therapy sessions. An ethical marriage counselor will remain neutral and avoid taking sides. Some marriage counselors offer supplemental individual sessions to each partner as a standard part of treatment. Others may offer individual sessions upon request.
Relationship counseling is generally held once a week. The schedule can vary depending on the couple’s goals and whether each partner is also attending individual or group therapy sessions. Couples counseling is offered in a variety of settings, including private practices, university counseling centers, and group practices.
Marriage counseling is often short-term, though healing a relationship may take more time. Ultimately, couples therapy will continue for as long as the couple is committed to completing the treatment plan or until they reach resolution.
Any couple with a history together may benefit from relationship counseling. Couples may seek counseling to resolve relationship issues, gain insight into the dynamics of their relationship, strengthen their emotional bonds, or find amicable ways to bring their relationship to an end. Premarital counseling is available for individuals who are engaged to be married.
As all couples experience tension or conflict at some point in their relationship, many people are unsure when they should seek couples counseling. The reality is that couples may seek relationship counseling for many different reasons, including:
Most couples counselors agree it’s best to seek couples counseling is as soon as discontent enters the relationship. Therapy need not be delayed until an issue becomes a crisis. In many relationships, couples therapy is not considered until issues persist for an average of six years. This delay can make it more difficult to repair or resolve concerns.
Couples therapy is also beneficial for partners who have made firm resolutions about the future of their relationship. A couple in a healthy relationship may seek counseling to increase intimacy or find new ways to connect with each other emotionally. Couples who have already decided to separate may pursue couples counseling in order to end their relationship on respectful terms.
People who are engaged to be married might also choose to seek premarital counseling. This can help couples explore areas of conflict or concern that may cause difficulty or dissatisfaction in their marriage. Therapy allows couples to discuss differences of opinion, personal values, and their expectations. Premarital counseling can uncover more issues than a couple originally meant to discuss. This may be beneficial, as it allows couples to evaluate whether they are truly compatible before marrying.
There are many advantages to engaging in couples therapy, but some situations are not improved by this approach. For example, in domestic abuse cases where violence is causing one partner to fear the other, couples therapy may not be enough. In some cases, a person’s safety or life may be jeopardized if they remain in a relationship with an abusive partner. Victims of intimate partner abuse are encouraged to call the police or find a local crisis center in the event of an emergency.
Studies indicate couples therapy can have a marked positive impact on relationships. Research evaluating changes in marital satisfaction after therapy shows approximately 48% of couples reach improvement or full recovery in relationship satisfaction after 5 years. Approximately 38% of couples experienced relationship deterioration, and 14% remained unchanged over the same period.
Couples therapy is most effective when both partners are committed to improving their relationship and sticking to the treatment plan. The approach is much less effective if one partner refuses to participate in treatment or the relationship is violent or abusive. Effectiveness of couples therapy is also reduced when those in the relationship only expect their partner to change. The more open each member of the relationship is to reflecting on their own perspectives and habits, the more effective couples therapy is likely to be.
Relationship counseling, originally known as marriage counseling and reserved for engaged or married couples, was in its infancy in the United States during the 1930s. Marriage counselors educated people about marriage and family life. However, it was rare for partners to seek relationship counseling together.
Couples therapy was transformed by the emergence of family therapy and the increase in divorce rates throughout the 1960s and 1970s. During this period, couples therapy was typically conducted with both partners present. Present-day couples counseling is heavily influenced by family therapy, a holistic approach designed to treat the family system together with its individual members. The work of family therapy pioneers, including Murray Bowen and Virginia Satir, was particularly impactful in developing this approach.
Today, couples counseling is available for married or unmarried people in all kinds of relationships. Counseling usually includes both partners, but there are occasions when a marriage counselor may work with only one person in a relationship. Counseling for individuals in a relationship might center on personal behaviors, reactions, and/or opportunities for growth.
Perhaps blowups between you and your partner are occurring more regularly. Or ongoing
sticky issues and irritations are causing increased tension and resentment. If you
have had little success working through relationship issues, find yourselves
avoiding each other, or using hostile words or actions that cause emotional or
physical hurt, professional counseling may help.
Sleep or sexual problems, extreme moodiness or feelings of dissatisfaction, loneliness, sadness or failure also can be clues that something is wrong. Couples counseling can uncover the underlying issues.
There may be external factors that can add stress to your relationship, including:
Birth or adoption of a child
Chronic illness or disability
Professional counseling can help you learn coping strategies for such periods of transition or stress.
Your local mental health association, family doctor, clergy or friends are good referral sources. Look for someone whose education and training best fits your needs and situation. For example, a gay couple may benefit from a counselor experienced in dealing with gay/lesbian issues. Make sure your chosen therapist is licensed by the state or accredited by a professional organization.
Most couples meet with their therapist once a week for about an hour each session.
Generally, therapy lasts for about 12 to 20 sessions. During the first session, the
therapist will review the therapeutic process, confidentiality and cost. She will
become acquainted with you and your partner and the problems that brought you to
counseling. She will ask many questions to understand your lives and relationship as
best as possible. Both you and your partner should feel comfortable talking with
Couples counseling is different than family therapy or individual psychotherapy. In family therapy, the focus is on helping the family figure out the large problems within the entire family (including children), and helping them to find fixes (such as improving communication). In individual psychotherapy, the focus is on a single person. While that person may talk about their relationships in session, the relationships are not usually the primary focus of the counseling.
The Couples Counseling Process
For the first several sessions, the therapist will attempt to evaluate your relationship. She will try to figure out:
What keeps you together
What stresses your relationship
The nature of your conflicts
Behavioral and communication patterns
Your strengths and weaknesses
The power structure
What qualities are missing or dysfunctional in your relationship
She also will study you as individuals.
Together, the two of you and your therapist will set realistic goals, which could be anything from learning how to be empathetic to figuring out new ways to negotiate problems to deciding how to share household and parental responsibilities. Your counselor will use a variety of therapeutic techniques until your goals are met or until you reach a point where either you or the therapist wants to terminate treatment.
Ideally, both you and your partner will seek professional help together. But, therapy can have positive outcomes even if only one of you is willing to attend. Most important, however, is your willingness to be honest and to make changes. Although your therapist can provide direction, you are responsible for acting on such guidance. By doing so, you will enjoy improved interaction and renewed enthusiasm for your relationship
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Licensed couple therapist may refer to a psychiatrist, clinical social workers, counseling psychologists, clinical psychologists, pastoral counsellors, marriage and family therapists, and psychiatric nurses. The duty and function of a relationship counselor or couples therapist is to listen, respect, understand and facilitate better functioning between those involved.
The basic principles for a counselor include:
As well as the above, the basic principles for a couples therapist also include:
Common core principles of relationship counseling and couples therapy are:
In both methods, the practitioner evaluates the couple’s personal and relationship story as it is narrated, interrupts wisely, facilitates both de-escalation of unhelpful conflict and the development of realistic, practical solutions. The practitioner may meet each person individually at first but only if this is beneficial to both, is consensual and is unlikely to cause harm. Individualistic approaches to couple problems can cause harm. The counselor or therapist encourages the participants to give their best efforts to reorienting their relationship with each other. One of the challenges here is for each person to change their own responses to their partner’s behavior. Other challenges to the process are disclosing controversial or shameful events and revealing closely guarded secrets. Not all couples put all of their cards on the table at first. This can take time.