With years of experience as a San Diego therapist, I can tell you that the benefits of couples counseling can be wide and varied. I say “can be” because change will only result if change is made. One of the first things I try and assess when a couple comes to see me is whether both parties are invested in counseling. If only one partner or spouse is really motivated and the other is reluctant to participate, then the chances of success are significantly reduced.
Another very important factor influencing success is how open-minded each person is. If one or both people are more concerned with “being right” or staying comfortable in their familiar patterns of interaction and less interested in learning new ways of relating, then the odds of improving the relationship decrease. What I often encounter is the desire for a positive change in the relationship but reluctance to move away from old, familiar and unhealthy ways of communicating and interacting. The amount of change someone sees is usually proportional to the amount of change made on each person’s part. Change is tough! It requires putting our egos aside and experimenting with new behaviors and responses. It usually entails being more concerned with and invested in the health of our relationship and partner than our old preconceived ideas and beliefs. A good relationship isn’t based on proving points but in hearing the experiences of our partner while having a platform to express our own experiences and needs. It is less about being right, and more about being heard and being able to set boundaries with care.
The third thing I highly suggest is for couples is to seek support sooner than later! The couples that come in when they first start to experience struggle are the ones which overall have the most positive outcome. When couples wait until they have exhausted all other efforts there is usually a high level of resentment and hurt between the two and the odds of healing the relationship decrease.
With that said, the benefits of couples’ counseling include:
- Improved communication
- Learning how to disagree without conflict
- Increased intimacy & understanding
- Learning how to communicate needs directly
- Increased relationship satisfaction
- Resolution of past resentments
- Increase in trust
- Learning how to say “no” effectively
- Learning to navigate change