Couples counseling: does it work and should we go?
I would love to say that couples couseling is always successful. The question of whether it will work or not is determined by a number of factors including whether the couple is willing to put in work towards repairing and improving their relationship. There is no easy answer to such a complicated question and each couple may experience a slightly different result.
The truth is we don’t often “solve” a couple’s problems in couples counseling sessions. Instead what we do is give them the tools to address their problems and deal with them in a more productive way. According to findings from the Gottman Institute who run the “Love Lab” in Seattle, Washington only about 31% of a couple’s problems are “solvable”. What couple’s counseling is really about it is developing skills for effective communication so that a couple can learn to live with these problems by acknowledging their partner’s thoughts and feelings and in turn feeling that their own thoughts and feelings are being validated.
Imagine a scenario where you have gotten your way when a conflict has arisen in your relationship and your partner throws their hands up in exasperation and exclaims “Fine we’ll do it your way but I still think I’m right!” You’ve gotten your way, sure, but how satisfied do you feel? Now imagine a scenario where your partner says “I hear what you’re saying and I know why you would like to do it this way but I really think it’s better if we do it this other way and here’s why…” Now you may not get your way in this second scenario but you’re likely to feel much more positive about the situation because your partner has truly heard and understood your point of view. Through the use of roleplaying and modeling these strategies couples counseling can help you learn how to be a better partner and what you should expect in return from your partner.
My own work with couples is heavily influenced by the work of the Gottman Institute. They have spent decades researching what makes for happy, lasting relationships and what leads to the inevitable demise of other relationships. Using this research, I help couples develop the skills (The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work) that bolster healthy, loving relationships while avoiding the pitfalls (The Four Horsemen) that mire couples in patterns of conflict and ill communication.
Are you willing to work to change the unhealthy patterns that have developed over time? Are you open to constructive feedback about what you already do well and what you can do to improve? Do you desire to get back on track and live a long and fulfilling life with your current partner? If so, then couples counseling may work for you.
If you would like a better idea about the kinds of communication and conflict resolution skills that I assist couples in working on you may want to watch this excellent video of a presentation given by Laura Heck, who is a Master Trainer for the Gottman Seven Principles Program.
Please contact me today and let’s setup an appointment for couples counseling to help get your relationship back on track. I can be reached by telephone at (706) 534-8558 or by e-mail at [email protected].