Marriage Counseling| Couples Therapy
Life is composed of relationships and choosing the person we would like to spend the rest of our lives with is one of the most important decisions we make. Beginning an intimate relationship with someone is very exciting at the start when we feel so connected to the person and our emotions are swelling - we feel on top of the world! But, as our emotions settle down and life’s routine begins to get in the way, we sometimes lose touch with our partners and feel disconnected. For this and for other reasons, couples therapy can provide direction and guidance for couples to examine their relationship so they can look for better ways to work together.
Are you searching for “marriage counseling near me”?
If yes, then you are one step closer to getting a better understanding of your relationship with your partner through couples therapy.
What is Therapy?
Therapy - also called psychotherapy, counseling, or talk therapy - is a method of treating or managing mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety by seeking the professional help of a psychologist or therapist. One might think that therapy is only for people who struggle with mental health issues, but although it primarily helps them, therapy can also be for everyone.
Psychotherapy is effective in helping people who have difficulty adjusting to major life changes such as moving to a new place or starting a new job. Going to therapy can also be helpful to someone who is struggling with the death of a loved one, for people who are recovering from trauma, or to help improve relationships between family members.
During psychotherapy, the therapist works with you to process your thoughts and feelings about a specific issue, identify your goals, and the steps you need to take to achieve those goals. There are different types of therapy for specific issues that you would like to address, so it’s important to speak and be honest with yourself and your therapist to know what method is right for you.
Are you seeking therapy? At Bregman Medical Group, our licensed therapists and psychiatrists provide professional help to families and individuals with a wide array of issues. We are currently accepting existing and new clients at our office in Coral Gables, FL.
Request an appointment with a mental health expert today.
What is Marriage Counseling?
Marriage counseling (couples therapy or relationship counseling) is a type of therapy where a couple meets and speaks with a psychologist usually for a few sessions to help deal with the issues affecting their relationship.
Marriage counseling is considered short-term therapy. According to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, on average marital/couples therapy is completed in 11.5 sessions. It focuses on helping couples in marriage and intimate relationships. Counselors are usually Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) who are professionally trained to help couples identify and work on their problems together. A big part of solving marital problems is to learn how to communicate effectively and couples therapy does exactly this so that couples can understand each other better and figure out how to move forward stronger.
When is marriage counseling needed and how can a marriage counselor help?
Having arguments and disagreements are part of every relationship, but there are issues that can become overwhelming and put a lot of stress on your relationship over time. When you seem to have more and more heated conflicts with each other and you feel like it's becoming too toxic, seeking therapy might be for you.
Here are some issues that couples therapy and a marriage counselor can help you and your partner with:
- Clashes between each other's cultures
- Financial concerns
- Communication issues
- Sexual issues
- Changing roles in the family
- Major life changes
- Blended families
- Substance abuse
- Physical or mental conditions
- Conflicts about raising a child
Through counseling, your therapist, as a neutral person, will be able to help you gain insights into your needs, observe your communication patterns and habits, and provide feedback to help you improve dysfunctional behaviors affecting your relationship.
Methods of couples therapy
Couples counseling has greatly improved over the years. Before the 1980s, methods in marriage counseling only had limited success. Now, there are many methods that couples therapists use that have greatly increased the effectiveness of therapy. Here are some of them:
Emotion-focused therapy - as the name suggests, this method focuses on the emotions of the person as a big factor in determining their relationship needs. The therapist helps the clients become more aware of their emotions, develop an appreciation for each other and strengthen their emotional bond.
Reflective listening - this practice helps couples to hear, listen, and understand what each other is speaking about. One needs to completely focus on what the other person is talking about, and then respond actively to them. This will help partners get to know one another on a deeper level.
The Gottman Method - The Gottman Method was developed by Dr. John Gottman and Dr. Julie Gottman. This method primarily aims to help couples develop a stronger friendship through conflict management and develop a shared meaning.
Imago Relationship Therapy - Imago Therapy was started by Dr. Harville Hendrix and Dr. Helen Hunt. This is a kind of therapy that primarily helps with conflict resolution within committed relationships. You may learn more about Imago Relationship Therapy and its techniques here.
Solution-focused therapy - using solution-focused therapy, the counselor will help clients to focus on what direction they want their relationship to go and what they can do to achieve their desired future.
Online therapy services for couples
Teletherapy is an option for marriage counseling to be done online, so there’s no need to attend in-person sessions. Couples can meet with their therapist through video call as long as they have a computer/ phone and a stable internet connection. Many clients also find virtual therapy to be just as effective as in-person therapy because they are more comfortable at home, and it is more convenient as they can easily access the doctor online.
Interested in teletherapy? Bregman Medical Group offers teletherapy where you meet with our mental health provider online.
Book an appointment here.
Ways to keep a healthy relationship
One can say that communication is one of the most important factors of a good relationship. When you and your spouse or partner understand what you both need from each other, you know how you can work together to keep your relationship healthy.
According to psychologists, couples should take the time to talk with each other and check-in with each other regularly amidst all the things needed to maintain the household. Staying connected to your partner and keeping things interesting through regular date nights and doing something new together help keep the intimacy alive.
Unhealthy communication patterns to avoid
It’s also important to identify unhealthy behavioral patterns during arguments between couples. Here are some unhealthy communication patterns that you would like to avoid:
- Minimizing an action
- Invalidating your partner’s feelings
- Bringing up past mistakes to the present situation (even if they are unrelated to the present situation)
- Shaming your partner
- Being in denial of one’s responsibility/ putting the blame on your partner
Couples Counseling Exercises
Depending on a couple’s issues, your marriage therapist may need you both to participate in couples therapy exercises to help you improve the way you communicate and understand each other better. Doing these exercises are an extension of your therapy session that will help you develop better intimacy, appreciation, and respect for one another. You might even want to try doing these exercises even when you and your partner are not active in therapy.
Here are some counseling exercises that couples therapists suggest:
Writing a letter to your partner - you can simply write a love letter to your partner and focus on the early days of your relationship, what attracted you, and the positive aspects of your relationship. Then, you can slowly transition to talk about the possible areas of your relationship that your partner can improve on. When you read the letter to each other, this will hopefully give you insight into when or what went wrong in the relationship and work on that.
Hold a “board meeting” - you can schedule weekly or even daily meetings with your spouse/ partner especially if the both of you are leading very busy lives. You can take 30 minutes of your time to check in on each other just the two of you with no distractions. You can begin by simply asking how the both of you feel about your relationship for the day or week, and other similar questions. Your answers should lead you to positive discussions about how you are as a couple.
Five Things Exercise - you and your partner can decide on a theme where you list five things within each theme. For example, you can list five things that you love about your partner or five things that you appreciate your partner did for you that week. After you’ve come up with the list, you can ask follow-up questions and be able to recognize the value that each of you brings to the relationship.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is marriage counseling only for married couples?
Although it’s called marriage counseling, it is not exclusively for married couples. All couples in intimate relationships can benefit from therapy to help with a wide range of issues that they may be facing. Established couples of all forms and ages turn to therapy for a variety of reasons.
How long does a couples therapy session last?
Sessions usually last for an hour, but couples who would want to have more flexibility can also request longer session time and is also depending on the availability of the marriage counselor.
What can I expect during the first counseling session?
During your first session, you can expect your marriage counselor to want to get to know you and your partner better. He or she will want to understand your reasons for what brought you into couples counseling in the first place. You can expect them to ask questions about how your relationship started or your early years of marriage, about each other’s childhood, and other aspects of your personal life. Knowing this is an important part of the counseling process so that your therapist will be able to determine the best therapeutic intervention for you.
At first, you may find it uncomfortable and difficult to share personal details about you and your partner with another person, but you can trust that you are in a safe space with your counselor and that this is ultimately towards helping you and your partner.
What happens if one of us is not willing to participate in therapy?
When you find your partner to be hesitant to come to couples therapy, it’s a good thing to see the situation from their perspective to understand why they are that way. If they find it uncomfortable talking to a third party about your issues as a couple, you can assure them that the psychologist creates a safe space for both of you to talk and is ethically responsible to keep your discussions private.
Keep in mind that couples therapy also does not aim to put any blame on one person, rather, the psychologist will remain impartial and will only have the best interest of both of you by providing insight to help you resolve the issues that are putting strain on your relationship.
Since there is usually “homework” to be given by the psychologist after a session, it will take the participation and dedication of both partners to experience the full benefits of therapy.
Do marriage therapists suggest divorce?
Counselors believe that couples have everything they need to restore and rebuild their relationship, and they work as much as possible to help the couple achieve this. Counselors refrain from pushing any direct advice and any decisions should entirely be made by the couple. However, if the counselor sees any signs of an abusive relationship, they will help to the best of their ability for the client to get all the resources they need, including suggesting separation if it is what’s best for the relationship.
The ultimate goal of therapy is to help partners understand each other better and develop productive ways to strengthen their relationship.
Is marriage counseling effective?
There are numerous studies that show marriage counseling to be effective in helping couples with their marital problems. For example, research published in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy shows that 70% of couples experienced a positive impact from the therapy they received.
Bregman Medical Group for Mental Health Issues
Bregman Medical Group offers medication management and different types of therapy that are applied to a wide range of mental health disorders and relationship concerns.