Understanding relationship Counseling

We all know romantic relationships are hard work. Research indicates that the average couple is unhappy for SIX YEARS before seeking Relationship Counseling. In relationships, we often avoid taking action until things have become much more serious and may even be beyond repair. If you're part of a relationship in distress, you may feel that there's no way out of your troubled relationship and myths about the low success rates of relationship counseling only make your situation seem worse.

Does Relationship counseling actually work?

Relationship counseling offers a multitude of benefits including the unbiased therapist who can offer options you may not have thought of, help to identify and change relationship patterns, and understanding reasons behind reactions and intentions. They can help you understand consequences of your words and actions as well as identify each partners hidden expectations and conflicts in those expectations as well as beliefs you may not realize you hold about relationships.

Throughout the therapeutic process, the therapist attempts to help both partners see the relationship in a more objective manner.  They learn to stop the "blame game" and instead look at the relationship and what happens in it involving each partner. Effective therapists attempt to change the way that the partners actually behave with each other in the relationship. This means that in addition to helping them improve their interactions, therapists also need to ensure that their clients are not engaging in actions that can cause physical, psychological, or economic harm. 

Those who avoid expressing their private feelings put themselves at greater risk of becoming emotionally distant and hence grow apart. Effective relationship counselors help their clients bring out the emotions and thoughts that they fear expressing to the other person. Being able to communicate is a key factor for intimacy. This communication should not be abusive, nor should partners ridicule each other when they do express their true feelings. The therapist may have to assist clients in learning to speak to one another in supportive and understanding ways.  The therapist may also provide the couple with instruction to give them the basis for knowing what types of communication are effective and what types will only cause more conflict.  They may also need to work on skills to listen more actively.

Because so much of relationship therapy involves focusing on problem areas, it's easy to lose sight of the other areas in which relationships function effectively. The point of promoting strength is to help individuals derive more enjoyment out of their relationship. Therefore, the therapist also points out strengths in the relationship and builds resilience, particularly as therapy nears a close.  

Who can benefit from Relationship counseling?

Counseling can be beneficial for any kind of relationship, regardless of age, race, sex, gender identity or expression, or sexual orientation. For example, a recently engaged couple may find premarital counseling an invaluable opportunity to address relationship expectations prior to getting married. Another couple, together 25 years, may discover that Relationship Counseling is an effective way for them to regain a sense of excitement and romance in their relationship that has recently been lost. Relationship Counseling can be beneficial in resolving a current or ongoing problem, preventing an exacerbation of problems, or simply as a “check-up” for a normally happy couple who is experiencing a period of transition or increased stress. Common areas of concern addressed in couples therapy include issues with money, parenting, sex, infidelity, in-laws, chronic health issues, infertility, gambling, substance use, emotional distance, and frequent conflict.

What if my spouse doesn't want to participate? 

If your spouse refuses to attend relationship counseling, but you want the outside help, we encourage you to attend counseling on your own. Just make the counselor aware that you are not there for individual therapy, but for marriage help. Another way to say it is: you are not the client, your relationship is. One may think that relationship counseling only works when both parties want to make their marriage work. However, you can change your marital relationship (or any relationship) just by what you do and how you behave. It may take longer than if the other person was completely on board with making improvements. He/she might be suspicious, wondering what you’re up to, and may even actively resist your changes. Over time, though, your sincerity and non-judgmental approach to having a better relationship will affect your spouse in a positive way.

So if you are the only one who wants a relationship counselor’s help, go for it. The counselor may be able to help you persuade your spouse to eventually join in. If not, at least you are working to improve yourself and your end of the relationship. 

People resist Relationship Counseling for many reasons. Having to talk about how your marriage isn’t working well to a stranger can arouse feelings of deep personal embarrassment. It can also put more distance between you and your spouse, and perhaps even permanently damage your relationship, if you force him/her into therapy.

Will my counselor try to talk me into divorce?

Our therapists are very open minded and client-centered. If you want to make your marriage work, we want to help you make your marriage work. If you are ready for divorce or trial separation, we want to support you through that. Relationships are very intricate experiences and no one else can understand your specific feelings over your relationship if they haven't lived it themselves. It is very easy for an outsider to say "oh, if that happened to me, I would leave." But, unless they have lived it, they don't know what they would do. We are completely unbiased and are here to help you work toward whatever goal you set for yourself. We have therapists at each of our locations: Uptown Dallas, Rockwall, Plano, and Denton, Texas who are experienced in working with relationship issues without pressure. 

Can your therapists work with LGBT individuals and Relationships?

Yes, our therapists are highly trained to work with any type of relationship regardless of gender, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression. At DCTC we recognize the unique qualities and barriers an individual experiences in a LGBT relationship and we take those into consideration when providing treatment. There is no judgement regardless of the type of relationship you are in or wish to pursue. 

How do children benefit from relationship counseling?

Regardless of if a couple decides to stay married, do a trial separation or file for divorce, children can benefit from their parents’ ability to more effectively deal with any family issues. Children learn from their parents by observing reactions to situations and counseling can teach parents how to handle issues in an appropriate manner. 

In addition, they will be more likely to have an open line of communications with their children as a result of counseling. The benefits of counseling will likely be different for every family. In fact, the benefits will depend greatly on the type of problem a family is experiencing. In some cases, the problem includes all family members and in others, it is strictly a problem between spouses. 

However, if families can avoid placing blame, they are often able to resolve current and future problems by utilizing effective conflict resolution techniques learned in therapy.  Even spouses that separate, find that marriage and family counseling is generally helpful for individual family members and for the family unit as a whole.

What about Premarital Relationship Counseling?

Counseling during your engagement can decrease the chances of divorce and set a precedent for how you cope with future problems. Receiving relationship counseling can help reinforce healthy communication techniques and prevent destructive relationship patterns from developing. Focusing on each other's positive attributes and sowing gratitude and appreciation can help build a strong foundation for a healthy marriage. 

Premarital relationship counseling can help improve relationship skills by encouraging partners to be more open and vulnerable to each other in a counseling setting before marriage. This can deepen your emotional connection and ability to communicate. Premarital Relationship Counseling enables couples to work on core skills, such as conflict resolution ,by identifying areas that are potentially controversial.

Anticipating your wedding and upcoming marriage is exciting. Many couples have hopes and dreams about what their lives will be like together. Premarital relationship counseling can ensure that you and your partner are on the same track. Communicating your ideas for a successful marriage, including expectations for your future spouse, how many children you hope to have, career aspirations and financial plans, enables you to discuss serious issues with the benefit of a third-party adviser. 

Former relationships, both familial and intimate, may bring emotional baggage into your future marriage. Your past experiences impact the way you view relationships and discussing past hurts or family patterns and how they might effect your forthcoming marriage can provide you with insight and understanding for each other. Couples willing to make the effort to explore past experiences, acknowledge each other's feelings and move forward with a clean slate may be rewarded with a healthy and successful marriage.