Counseling can be a valuable tool for those looking to improve their relationships, but many people hesitate to seek help due to misconceptions and myths about couples therapy.
Unfortunately, dismissing the idea of couples therapy without a clear understanding of what it actually involves can prevent couples from reaping the potential benefits.
If you’ve been wondering if you and your partner need therapy, it’s important to identify and debunk any couples therapy misconceptions you might have before making any treatment decisions.
Whether you’re worried about couples therapy making your situation worse or concerned that going to therapy is a sign your relationship isn’t worth saving, taking time to explore the truth about couples therapy will ensure you and your relationship can get the support you need.
Keep reading to explore some of the most common couples therapy misconceptions debunked by our experienced couples therapists at Couples Learn. But first, let’s explore what couples counseling is all about.
What Is Couples Counseling?
Couples counseling, often referred to as couples therapy, is a type of mental health treatment aimed at helping couples navigate relationship issues and improve communication. Couples therapists use a variety of therapy modalities to help couples navigate major life changes, stressors and conflicts.
The goal of couples counseling is not to “fix” a relationship or decide who is right or wrong. Instead, couples therapists can help partners understand each other’s perspectives and develop healthy communication and conflict-resolution strategies.
While many couples attend therapy when they are dealing with major life changes, infidelity or other relationship challenges, counseling can also help couples proactively care for their relationship. In fact, proactive attendance can help couples prevent future conflicts and strengthen their relationship before major issues arise.
It is also important to know that couples counseling is not a one-size-fits-all approach. There are various methods and techniques used by couples therapists. An experienced counselor will tailor their approach to best suit your unique relationship dynamics and the specific issues you wish to address. At Couples Learn, we use a variety of couples therapy techniques including Gottman Method, Imago therapy, EFT and more.
14 Common Misconceptions of Couples Counseling
Considering couples therapy but worried about whether or not it’s right for you? Explore some of the common misconceptions and myths of couples therapy below.
1. Couples counseling is only for couples on the verge of divorce.
This is a common couples therapy myth, but it’s simply not true. Couples counseling can be beneficial for anyone looking to improve their relationship, regardless of the stage they are at. The stigma around couples counseling is often based on the thought that attending means your relationship is failing. However, many couples attend therapy to maintain a healthy and thriving partnership.
And even if you are trying therapy to work through issues or conflict, it doesn’t mean you’re failing. Attending therapy at all is a sign that you’re committed to improving your relationship, which is a great sign!
2. Couples counseling is only for married couples.
Couples counseling can benefit any type of relationship, not just those who are married. Whether you’re dating, engaged, or living together, counseling can help you develop a stronger bond, improve communication skills, and manage conflicts more effectively.
3. Therapists will take sides and pick a “winner” in the relationship.
A therapist should never be picking sides! This is one of the most incorrect myths about couples therapy. Professional therapists aim to remain neutral and help both partners navigate their issues. Their goal is to assist you in understanding one another’s perspectives and work towards finding common ground, rather than focusing on who is “right” or “wrong.”
Besides, in most conflicts between couples, there isn’t one person who is wrong anyway. Instead, there’s often a lack of understanding or miscommunication at the heart of relationship issues.
4. Couples counseling is a last resort; it means the relationship is doomed.
Many couples view counseling as a last-ditch effort before breaking up, but this is a misconception. Seeking couples counseling early on can help to address and resolve issues before they escalate, preventing further damage to the relationship. In fact, many successful couples view therapy as a proactive measure to maintain their connection.
5. Couples counseling is a quick process, and you’ll see immediate results.
Unfortunately, like many things in life, good things come to those who wait. And while you may be able to work through some conflicts fairly quickly through couples counseling, therapy is usually an ongoing process. It may take some time to see significant improvements. How long couples therapy takes to work will depend on the complexity of your issues and your commitment to making changes.
While some couples only attend therapy for a few months to work through specific issues or navigate a major life change, others will attend for years or even throughout the life of their relationship to keep their connection strong.
6. You must be in an extremely dysfunctional relationship to benefit from counseling.
This common myth about couples therapy is far from the truth. Couples with minor conflicts or small misunderstandings can also benefit from counseling. In fact, addressing these issues before they grow into larger problems can lead to an even stronger and healthier relationship.
Whether you’re welcoming a baby to your family, navigating a cross-country move or dealing with disagreements about money, attending couples counseling can help – even if the rest of your relationship is strong.
7. Couples counseling is only for romantic relationships; it doesn’t apply to friendships or family relationships.
Although couples counseling usually focuses on romantic relationships, therapists can also work with people in various types of relationships, including friendships and family dynamics. Ultimately, therapy is about improving communication, understanding, and connection, which can apply to any relationship.
Depending on the type of support you need, you may work with a couples therapist, a family therapist or even an individual therapist. An experienced counselor can help determine who can best help you navigate whatever relationship challenges you’re facing.
8. You have to share all your personal secrets and intimate details with the therapist.
The goal of therapy is to create a safe and trusting environment for open communication. While it’s important to be honest with your therapist and vulnerable with your partner during sessions, you can choose what you feel comfortable sharing. Therapists are trained to respect your privacy and boundaries and they won’t pressure you to disclose any details you don’t feel safe sharing.
9. Therapists will judge and criticize your relationship choices.
Therapists are not here to judge! Trust us, we’ve seen just about everything when it comes to relationship challenges, and we’re committed to approaching any conflict, dynamic or issue with empathy.
A couples counselor’s role is to facilitate communication between you and your partner and help you navigate your unique relationship concerns. They will not critique your decisions, but rather support you in working through challenges.
10. Couples counseling is too expensive and only for the affluent.
This is one of the most common misconceptions about couples therapy. Part of this myth stems from the fact that many couples therapists don’t take insurance. While this can make accessing therapy hard for some couples, many therapists offer sliding scale fees to accommodate different budgets. You may also be able to get reimbursed by your insurance company for couples therapy sessions, even if your therapist doesn’t accept insurance.
11. If one partner refuses counseling, there’s no point in seeking help.
It is still possible to benefit from attending individual therapy for relationship help, even if your partner is not willing to participate. A therapist can help you gain a better understanding of your own thoughts and feelings and provide guidance on managing your relationship issues. Working with a therapist can also help you improve your communication skills and give you a safe, neutral place to talk through your challenges.
12. Couples therapy will make your relationship worse.
We hear this concern from potential couples counseling clients all the time: “Will couple’s therapy make things worse?” It’s totally normal to worry about “rocking the boat” when it comes to your relationship. But the purpose of couples therapy is to help you and your partner grow as individuals and as a couple together. While addressing deep-rooted issues can bring about temporary discomfort, it ultimately leads to a healthier and stronger relationship.
13. Going before you are married means that your relationship is not meant to be and you might as well just break up.
Going to couples therapy before you’re married is not a sign of a doomed relationship! In fact, premarital counseling can actually be a proactive step toward building a strong and lasting relationship. It helps address potential issues early on, gives you tools for navigating through different stages of marriage, and strengthens your commitment.
While some couples who attend therapy do eventually break up, attending therapy is not a sign that the same will happen to you. If anything, it’s a sign that you and your partner are both deeply committed to your relationship.
14. You should be able to figure stuff out on your own.
Seeking help does not mean there is something wrong with you or your partner. Couples often have a hard time solving conflicts on their own because they are too emotionally close to the issue at hand. Working with a couples therapist can give you a neutral, third-party view of your challenges and help you each see things from a different perspective.
Couples counseling is a valuable resource for strengthening your relationship, enhancing communication skills, and addressing common concerns. Embracing counseling is a sign of maturity and commitment to your partnership.
Common Types of Couples Therapy
If we’ve busted enough myths about couples therapy for you and you’re ready to find a therapist, then it’s time to start exploring some of the top types of couples therapy available.
Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT)
Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT) is an approach that focuses on the emotional bond between partners. In EFT sessions, you and your partner will explore patterns of interaction that contribute to emotional distance or disconnection. By creating a safe environment in which you both can discuss your feelings, EFT helps strengthen your emotional connection and improve communication skills.
Gottman Method Couples Therapy
The Gottman Method is based on the extensive research of Dr. John Gottman and his work on the factors that contribute to successful relationships. This approach emphasizes practical, research-based interventions to help you and your partner build a stronger bond. The Gottman Method focuses on improving communication, conflict resolution, and intimacy in your relationship by teaching effective communication strategies and problem-solving skills.
Imago Therapy is another form of couples counseling that addresses the unconscious factors that influence your choice of partner and patterns of interaction within your relationship. In Imago Therapy sessions, you will explore your past experiences and how they impact your current relationship dynamics. Through this exploration, you will gain new insight into your partner’s needs and feelings and develop a deeper understanding of how to address your own needs within the relationship.
Premarital Counseling is a specialized form of couples therapy that aims to help couples build a strong foundation for their future together before getting married. It often includes discussing your expectations about marriage, learning communication skills, addressing any potential areas of conflict, and creating a shared vision for your life together. This type of counseling can help you and your partner build a solid base for a long-term, healthy marriage.
Frequently Asked Questions About Couples Therapy
Should I do couples therapy or break up?
The answer to this question is a deeply personal one. While some couples should break up for the health and happiness of the individuals involved, other couples can absolutely resolve conflict through couples counseling. Attending couples counseling can actually help you make the decision of whether to break up or stay together.
Can a therapist see partners separately?
Yes, they can! Many couples therapists will occasionally offer individual counseling sessions to each member of a couple individually to gain a better understanding of their inner dialogue, attachment style and relationship history. These individual sessions can give the therapist many key insights into how to better help the couple manage conflict or improve communication.
Does couples therapy mean your relationship is over?
Absolutely not! While some couples who go through therapy will ultimately break up or get divorced, committing to couples therapy is a big step toward the health of your relationship. In some ways, couples therapy means the next phase of your relationship is just beginning!
What is the success rate of couples therapy?
If you and your partner both want to be together, therapy can help you get closer than ever. An analysis of emotionally-focused couples therapy (EFT) found that 90% of couples significantly improve their relationship and 70-70% of couples no longer fit the criteria for “relationship distress” after treatment.
The American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists reports that more than 75% of patients receiving marriage or couples counseling see an improvement in their relationship after therapy.
Do both partners need to attend every session?
In general, both partners should be present for couples therapy sessions to address issues and work on their relationship. However, there may be instances when individual sessions are necessary to address specific personal concerns. It is essential to discuss with your therapist about the best approach for you and your partner.
Is couples therapy only a short-term solution?
The length and duration of couples therapy can vary based on the needs and goals of each couple. It can be short-term, focusing on specific issues, or long-term, addressing more deep-rooted problems and fostering personal growth. Ultimately, the success and timeline of your therapy will depend on the commitment and effort put in by you and your partner.
Ready to Start Couples Therapy?
Now that we’ve debunked some of the most common misconceptions and myths about therapy for couples, are you ready to try therapy for your relationship? Contact Couples Learn to explore all our couples therapy offerings and determine the best fit for you and your partner.
With online couples therapy from Couples Learn, you can get the support you need to navigate any of life’s challenges. Schedule a free consultation today to get started.