Marriage Counseling Questions
Does Couples Therapy Work?
By Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby
People often wonder whether couples therapy works. Specifically, they wonder whether couples therapy will work for them.
(And to clarify, the terms “couples therapy,” “couples counseling,” and “marriage counseling” are interchangeable. Marriage counseling is the term that’s used when a married couple is in therapy together, and couples counseling is the general term used for the same therapy when a couple is committed, but isn’t married. The kinds of techniques the marriage counselor uses and the goals of therapy are often similar).
All relationships have ups and downs. Frustrations or hurtful feelings that stem from relationship problems can have a major impact on your life. You might find yourself thinking about the relationship a lot, or worried about how things are going to get better. At these times, couples who care about their relationships often seek outside support to repair their relationship.
There are plenty of statistics to show you about how effective couples therapy can be, but stories of successful couples therapy are often more revealing. Here’s an example of what couples therapy looks like in action.
Will Couples Counseling Work For Us? Ask Chris and Karen.
“Chris and Karen” (not their real names) typify the couples we see. Chris emailed us for a couples therapy consultation meeting, saying that he and his wife needed help to improve their communication.
During our first meeting we started to sort through their concerns. They described periods of relative peace and calm punctuated by “tense moments” that sometimes led to fights. Karen seemed frustrated but I could see that under the surface she was really hurting. With just a few gentle questions from me the hurt poured out and she told me that she felt very lonely and uncared for by her husband sometimes.
Chris sat with his face reddening, and at first seemed reluctant to talk. But with my support, he was able to open up about how he felt like she was always upset with him, and how that made him want to withdraw. He was able to talk about how he felt lonely and like his needs were going unmet too.
They talked about how their relationship had changed since the birth of their first child, and how irritation and hurt seemed to have replaced the affection and fun they once shared. Karen, Chris and I meet weekly for 12 weeks (the average number of sessions for successful marriage counseling), and our couples therapy appointments became the “safe place” where they each trusted that they would be heard and understood. In our meetings they could talk about hard, yet necessary topics without it turning into a fight.
I helped them to understand each other’s feelings and needs. Session by session their empathy for each other grew and their attitudes toward each other softened. Once they started to feel better about each other, we began discussing the practical strategies their relationship needed to thrive.
They learned communication skills, new ways of doing things, and between our appointments they practiced the things we were talking about in therapy. Meeting through face-to-face video conferencing was essential to their success. Without it they would never have been able to keep their weekly appointments with me.
I know from experience that marriage counseling works when couples are committed to the process. Going two or three weeks between meetings can be detrimental. They always kept their appointments with me because it was so easy. They met with me on a laptop at their kitchen table, after dinner. They never had to find childcare for their daughters, and Karen often nursed their baby while we talked.
I often schedule individual meetings with both people in a couple, and Karen usually saw me at home during nap-time. I met with Chris during lunch hour at his office. When Chris traveled, as he frequently did, the three of us were still able to meet together, each from a different location, and the steady, forward momentum of their therapy continued.
Over time both Chris and Karen came to understand each other’s point of view and each became willing to try new things in response. We talked about housework, parenting, sex, money, in-laws, communication, time together and much more. We put new plans in place that honored both of their feelings, and the fights stopped.
But, more importantly, they felt closer and more connected to each other. They had fun again. And they learned the skills and tools to ensure that when they hit another rough patch in the future, they could work through it on their own.
During our last meeting they sat on their couch with their arms around each other and seemed so in love. They had both grown enormously, and they seemed genuinely appreciative of each other. It was beautiful to see!
What Our Clients Say:
You provided us such a safe place to be honest with ourselves and with each other our fear of being vulnerable and weak were transformed into a feeling of opportunity to be heard. My husband and I are better friends, parents, lovers and companions than we have ever been.
– Former Clients
Meet a Few Of Our Relationship Experts
The marriage counselors, couples therapists and premarital counselors of Growing Self have specialized training and years of experience in helping couples reconnect. We use only evidence based strategies that have been proven by research to help you restore your strong bond, and love your relationship again.
Hunter is an exceptionally warm, compassionate couples counselor and therapist who has specialized training in Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy as well as family systems. He helps individuals gain self-awareness and move past self-limiting patterns, and helps couples achieve deeper levels of communication, connection, and commitment. He can help you both to understand yourselves, and each other, so that you can create new, positive ways of relating that heal your bond.
Amy-Noelle specializes in relationship dynamics and personal development, and has over 10 years of clinical experience in helping individuals and couples grow into the fullness of their potential. She uses the Gottman Method and also draws from Ester Perel’s work, which integrates psychodynamic, attachment, and systemic theories, as well as body-oriented and mindful therapy approaches to help you both create transformational change in yourselves and in your relationship.
Amanda is a Marriage Counselor, Premarital Counselor and Family Therapist with a warm, gentle style that will help you both feel comfortable, respected, and understood. She has a gift for helping couples and families understand each other compassionately, feel emotionally safe, and learn how to relate in positive new ways that allow them to start enjoying each other again.
Teresa Thomas is a marriage counselor and couples therapist with years of experience in helping couples communicate more effectively, find new solutions to old problems, repair their strong bond, rebuild trust after affairs, successfully blend families, improve their sexual intimacy, and parent joyfully together. She is a couples therapist and parenting coach with a positive, solution focused style who specializes in helping you both make positive changes to your life, as well as to your relationship.
Meagan Terry is a relationship specialist. She is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with over nine years of experience in helping couples reconnect, and enjoy each other again. She uses effective, evidence based forms of marriage counseling including Emotionally-Focused Couples Therapy and The Gottman Method. In addition to working one-on-one with couples, she teaches our Lifetime of Love premarital and relationship class.
M. A., LMFTC
Seth Bender is a marriage and family therapist with specialized training and experience in helping couples heal their relationships, improve communication, release resentments, and achieve new levels of enjoyment and fulfillment with each other. He practices Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy to help you strengthen your bond, as well as positive, empowering and solution focused coaching strategies to help you both take positive action in your relationship.
M.A., N.C.C., LMFT-C
Anastacia's authentic, caring approach to marriage counseling and relationship coaching helps couples find each other's "noble intentions," and re-commit to showing each other love and respect. She can help you heal old hurts, improve your communication, restore trust, and work together as a team.
M. S., ASORC
Dori is a kind, empathetic couples counselor, individual therapist, and life coach who specializes in sex therapy, and helping couples create healthy emotional and sexual intimacy. Her friendly style makes it safe to talk about anything, and her solution-focused approach helps you move past the past, and into a bright new future of intimacy and connection.
Polly is a marriage counselor with over 25 years of experience in helping couples "come back from the brink," heal their strong bond, and enter into a positive and satisfying new chapter of life together. Her warm, competent style will put you both at ease and help you find new solutions to old problems.
Have More Questions About Marriage Counseling or Couples Therapy?
We Have Answers.
If you have more questions about Marriage Counseling, we are happy to answer them in person. Schedule a free consultation session with one of our expert marriage counselors today. You can meet with them at our Denver or Broomfield Colorado office locations, or through online video conferencing. Call 720-370-1800 for personal assistance in scheduling. (Our phones are answered 24/7). In a private, professional environment we can get to know each other, you can talk about your hopes for your relationship, and start moving forward together in mending your marriage.
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