Issues or arguments that just can’t seem to be resolved come up over time in almost any type of relationship. Every couple experiences periods of conflict, tension, disagreement, or confusion at some point!
And in the past year, with quarantining and millions of people working from home, there has been even more stress on couples living together.
Sadly, many of us often either decide that it will go away or try to ignore a recurring issue, letting resentment and other negative feelings build instead of looking for help. According to Dr. John Gottman from The Gottman Institute, couples wait an average of six years of being unhappy before seeking help.
Couples therapy is a real option that can be a great help to many people, no matter where you are in your relationship. Some of the benefits include:
- Equip couples to improve their communication to better resolve future conflicts and understand each other’s needs and encourage intimacy
- Help partners understand the true sources of their conflict and negative feelings
- Pinpoint smaller concerns in the relationship that may grow into bigger issues without intervention
- Help determine what is missing in the relationship and help bring back some of the “spark”
- Some couples may know what their problem is, but not how to resolve it, so counseling can help them proceed toward resolution
- In more serious situations, help determine whether divorce is the best option, and how to proceed with a separation
But despite the benefits, there are stigmas around marriage and relationship counseling, and therapy in general. To try to help you understand how couples therapy could be good for you, below are four answers to common myths about it.
1. Seeking counseling means our relationship is over
Lots of couples find themselves under the misunderstanding that by seeking help and admitting there are unresolved issues, they’re also admitting that they aren’t meant to be together or that their relationship is over. But that’s not true at all!
In fact, studies support the reality that nearly half of all married couples have gone or are going to some form of couples counseling. To make matters even more promising, two studies – one from the 1980s and the next from 2012 – showed the success rate of couples counseling rising from around 50% to 70%.
Success obviously isn’t guaranteed, and the results of counseling depend on many factors in your relationship – like how long you’ve been together and you’re issues have been going on – but you can rest assured that you’re making a good decision for your future together and individually by seeking help.
2. People will judge us for seeking counseling
One reason holding back many couples, and people in general, from getting the therapy help that could give them the tools to resolve issues in their relationships is the fear of other people knowing that you’ve sought out counseling.
It’s understandable that you may not want people to know, as the stigma around mental health certainly still prevalent in society, but you can rest assured that, due to HIPAA and other codes that providers work under, your confidentiality will be kept as long as you decide it’s necessary.
According to the APA’s Ethical Principles of Psychologists, counseling providers are only allowed to disclose your information without consent in cases such as to consult another professional or protect you or others from harm.
In any other case, it is up to you to decide whether or not you’d like for others to know about your decision to go to couples counseling. However, you should know that, regardless of what anyone thinks, there is nothing wrong with seeking mental health help.
3. A therapist will pick a side
It’s only natural to assume that, as every person does, a therapist will have opinions about your relationship and possibly take sides in your dispute. However, therapists are trained to do the exact opposite!
While any mental health provider is still a real person, just like you and your partner, they have gone through years of education and training to be as neutral as possible so that they can help someone else resolve issues. Even though it’s often not possible to do it exactly, a therapist’s job often starts at making sure that each of you feel heard and understood.
With a good therapist, such as the many great providers at MindPath Care Centers, they will be interactive with you throughout each session while sticking to the goal of addressing and resolving problems for each of you.
4. Counseling is too expensive
It’s no secret that private therapy, and really any medical visit, can be expensive without insurance coverage and that marriage counseling sometimes isn’t covered by insurance plans. Don’t let that stop you from seeking out help though, as you may be missing out on some key information.
At MindPath, we accept a wide array of insurance plans, including Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna and Medicare, and we have a number of providers that offer couple therapy. If you’re interested in seeking out relationship counseling, the best thing you can do first is check with your insurance provider to see if and what they cover.
If your insurance doesn’t cover marriage counseling, you haven’t hit a dead end. There are many family service non-profits throughout North Carolina and the U.S. that offer therapy and financial assistance for local residents.