When It May Be Time to Seek Relationship Counseling

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when it may be time to seek relationship counseling

It’s very common for a relationship to have issues over time. These issues often come in the form of lack of healthy communication skills, major life changes, intimacy problems, and many more.

Knowing when to start relationship counseling is not easy either, some couples don’t realize it until the relationship is already really damaged. This kind of counseling can help but should be seen as a way to learn positive communication and conflict-resolution skills, not as a method of crisis-solving therapy.

While it doesn’t guarantee that it can solve any problem, it can be used to learn effective communication skills that can help you both in your relationship and in your personal life.

What is Relationship Counseling

Relationship counseling, also known as couples therapy, is a form of psychotherapy aimed at helping individuals in romantic or interpersonal relationships resolve conflicts, improve communication, and strengthen their bonds. A trained therapist or counselor guides couples through discussions and exercises to address issues such as communication problems, trust issues, or other challenges in their relationship. The goal online couples therapy is to promote a healthier, more satisfying relationship and equip couples with the tools to navigate and overcome difficulties together.

When to Seek Relationship Counseling

Many couples wait a lot of time to even consider seeking relationship or marriage counseling, so the moment can vary from couple to couple. However, there are many indicators that show you when it might be time to seek counseling.

Lack of Communication

This is one of the most common issues that couples face in romantic relationships. Some people feel that their partner never listens to them, so they end up feeling ignored and unloved.  Many couples don’t talk about their issues out of fear of having a fight or being open with their partner. This can make a couple grow apart over time.

Constant Arguing

Fights between couples are normal. However, ongoing discussions can mean that there is an issue that hasn’t been taken care of and it’s growing bigger and bigger as time passes. They usually start as ‘small’ fights, but avoiding the issue and shutting out your partner can make those small fights turn into really big ones.


It’s very common for a relationship to fall into a boring routine after some time. Not finding ways of reconnecting with your partner, learning new things, or planning a project, can make your relationship fall into this category. A relationship counselor can help you find out ways of bringing the ‘spark’ back into your relationship.

Loss of Intimacy

Both physical and emotional intimacy are core aspects of a healthy relationship. There are many factors that can make a couple cease giving and receiving love or pleasure to each other; when this happens, one person in the relationship might look for this physical or emotional intimacy somewhere else, distancing themselves from their partner.

Big Life Changes

The loss of a loved one, starting a family, infidelity, and many other things can make a couple go their separate ways or change the way they connect with each other.

Types of marriage counseling

Marriage counseling employs various therapeutic approaches and methods. Familiarizing yourself with these types of couples therapy can assist you in selecting the right marriage counselor:

  1. Gottman Method Couples Therapy: Developed by psychologists John and Julie Gottman, this method targets destructive behaviors such as criticism, defensiveness, contempt, or stonewalling that harm relationships.
  2. Discernment Counseling: Designed for couples uncertain about the future of their relationship, it offers short-term guidance to help them make informed decisions.
  3. Solution-Focused Therapy: This style concentrates on resolving specific issues or disputes, with a therapist assisting couples in setting and achieving relationship goals.
  4. Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT): EFT involves addressing distressing events in the relationship, helping couples understand the emotions and behaviors involved in those situations.
  5. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): While primarily used for issues like anxiety and depression, CBT has been found effective for couples, addressing communication problems and conflict resolution.

What Happens During Couples Therapy

Couples therapy, often known as marriage counseling, encompasses a range of approaches depending on the therapist. In the initial sessions, therapists in couples counseling typically focus on understanding the couple and identifying the specific areas of their relationship that need improvement. The therapist will engage in discussions to assess the challenges, communication dynamics, and goals of the couple.

The therapeutic process can vary; some therapists emphasize setting both short-term and long-term goals to guide the therapy. These objectives could include enhancing communication, trust-building, or conflict resolution. In some cases, therapists may assign “homework” assignments for couples to work on between sessions, facilitating progress toward their established goals.

Seeking relationship counseling at the right time can help couples learn how to improve communication and solve conflicts in a safe, healthy manner. Therapy can restore trust and also provide tools to recognize issues early on and work through them, improving and building trust.

Relationship counseling allows couples to openly speak about relationship issues, how they feel and how they can negotiate to find a solution to a problem, rather than shifting the blame from one to another.

What if One Partner Refuses to Go

Sometimes, one party in the relationship might not want to go to therapy. Although this is common, it has some workarounds. You can talk to your partner about how you feel and the benefits you might get if you both attend therapy.

If they still refuse to go to couples therapist, you can also get counseling on your own; working the issues from one side of the relationship can help improve your personal growth. The other partner might consider giving therapy a go if they see positive changes. You can always tell them that they can take the therapy sessions however they feel more comfortable.

How Do You Know if Your Therapist is a Good Fit

Determining if a therapist is a good fit is a crucial aspect of the therapeutic process. To start, consider the qualifications and credentials of the therapist. Make sure they are a licensed therapist and possess the necessary qualifications, with experience in the specific area of your concern. Seek professionals like psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, or counselors, depending on your needs.

It’s also important to understand the therapist’s approach to therapy. Different therapists use various methods, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, psychoanalysis, or mindfulness. Research and choose an approach that resonates with your personal preferences and needs.

The therapist-client relationship is built on trust and rapport, so compatibility in relationship therapy is a significant factor. Assess if you feel comfortable with the therapist, as they should be empathetic, non-judgmental, and understanding. Effective communication is key, with your therapist being an active listener who makes you feel heard and understood.

Additionally, look for therapists who specialize in your specific concerns. For example, if you have issues related to anxiety, trauma, or relationships, seek therapists with expertise in those areas. Ensure your therapist discusses clear goals for therapy and conducts regular progress evaluations.

How to find the Right Online Therapist?

To find the right therapist, you can start by asking for recommendations from friends, family, or your primary care physician. Online therapist directories are also valuable resources, allowing you to filter by location, specialization, and insurance.

Contact multiple therapists for an initial consultation to assess compatibility and discuss logistical details, such as insurance and fees. Trust your instincts during this process, and remember that it’s okay to switch therapists if you feel the current one isn’t the right fit. The therapeutic relationship should be collaborative and beneficial, and finding the right therapist is instrumental in your mental health journey.

How Long Should Therapy Last

It depends on the couple, the issues they want to work through, and the therapist. It can last a few sessions for some couples, and months of therapy for the first few sessions for some other couples. The important thing is to be consistent with the treatment until you feel your goals have been accomplished.

Final Thoughts

While it is a hard decision to start counseling, it is one of the best options online couples have to keep a relationship as healthy as possible. Keep realistic expectations and be patient until you get positive results.

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