Couples therapy (sometimes called marriage counseling), is a type of psychotherapy that helps couples of all types recognize and resolve conflicts and improve their relationships. Couples therapy is often short term and involves both individuals. However, one or both may also opt to work individually with a separate therapist.
Some couples seek counseling to strengthen their bonds and gain a better understanding of each other. Couples counseling can also help couples who plan to marry. This counseling can help couples achieve a deeper understanding of each other and resolve differences before marriage. In other cases, couples seek counseling to improve a troubled relationship. Couples counseling is used to address many specific issues, including:
- Communication problems
- Sexual difficulties
- Conflicts about child rearing and/or blended families
- Substance abuse
- Financial problems
Couples counseling might also be helpful in cases of domestic conflict. If violence has escalated to the point that you're afraid, however, counseling alone isn't adequate. Contact the police or a local shelter or crisis center for emergency support.
Couples counseling typically brings couples together for joint therapy sessions. Working with a therapist, you'll learn skills to solidify your relationship. These skills might include communicating openly, solving problems together and discussing differences rationally. You'll analyze both the good and bad parts of your relationship as you pinpoint and better understand the sources of your conflicts. Talking about your problems with a counselor might not be easy. If you or your partner is coping with mental illness, substance abuse or other issues, your therapist might work with other health care providers to provide comprehensive care.