What is Marriage & Family Therapy?
Marriage counseling, also called couples therapy, helps couples — married or not — understand and resolve conflicts and improve their relationship. Marriage counseling gives couples the tools to communicate better, negotiate differences, problem solve and even argue in a healthier way.
Marriage counseling typically brings couples or partners together for joint therapy sessions. The counselor or therapist helps couples pinpoint and understand the sources of their conflicts and try to resolve them. You and your partner will analyze both the good and bad parts of your relationship.
Marriage counseling can help you learn skills to solidify your relationship. These skills may include communicating openly, problem-solving together and discussing differences rationally. In some cases, such as mental illness or substance abuse, your marriage counselor may work with your other health care professionals to provide a complete spectrum of treatment.
Who Should Consider Working With Marriage Counselling?
Most marriages and other relationships aren't perfect. Each person brings his or her own ideas, values, opinions and personal history into a relationship, and they don't always match their partner's. Those differences don't necessarily mean your relationship is bound for conflict. To the contrary, differences can be complementary — you know the saying about opposites attracting. These differences can also help people understand, respect and accept opposing views and cultures.
But relationships can be tested. Differences or habits that you once found endearing may grate on your nerves after time together. Sometimes specific issues, such as an extramarital affair or loss of sexual attraction, trigger problems in a relationship. Other times, there's a gradual disintegration of communication and caring.
No matter the cause, distress in a relationship can create undue stress, tension, sadness, worry, fear and other problems. You may hope your relationship troubles just go away on their own. But left to fester, a bad relationship may only worsen and eventually lead to physical or psychological problems, such as depression. A bad relationship can also create problems on the job and affect other family members or even friendships as people feel compelled to take sides.
Here are typical issues that marriage counseling can help you and a spouse or partner cope with:
- Substance abuse
- Physical or mental conditions
- Same-sex relationship issues
- Cultural clashes
- Blended families
- Communication problems
- Sexual difficulties
- Conflicts about child rearing
- Changing roles, such as retirement