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Everything You Need to Know About Couples Therapy

Learn when, where, and how to seek out professional help for your relationship problems.
  • 29 June 2023
  • 8min

If you're facing difficulties in your relationship, you're not alone. Occasional distress is a common experience for most couples. In fact, more than on third of married couples end up getting a divorce. However, couples therapy has been proven to assist and actively work to help couples address their relationship problems.

Most people have heard of couples therapy; it's often the first thing that comes to mind when facing relationship problems. Perhaps you've found your way here because you recognize that something is missing in your relationship.

When things get tough in a relationship, couples therapy is a way to seek help. And in recent years, terms like “preventive therapy,” “relationship check-ups,” and “relationship development” have emerged in connection to it. These approaches focus on working proactively on the relationship to keep it healthy and happy.

What exactly is couples therapy & when is it necessary?

Couples therapy is necessary when you have noticeable relationship problems that you want help resolving. Maybe you’ve drifted apart and long for your previous level of closeness. Perhaps you often misunderstand each other and argue about the same things. Or possibly you want to reconnect after betrayal, infidelity, or other relationship challenges.

Most people who seek couples therapy have been experiencing problems for some time, often for years. Many couples take a long time to seek professional help because they often consider it stigmatizing, costly, or impossible to incorporate into their daily lives.

It's also common for one partner to feel a greater need to address relationship problems while the other is more content with the way things are or unwilling to seek external help for reasons like those mentioned above.

How does couples therapy usually work?

Couples therapy usually begins by identifying the common themes of the relationship problems with both partners. The therapist then helps them both gain an understanding of each other's experiences in problematic situations and develop a shared perspective on the issues in the relationship ( a “us against the relationship problems” mindset).

A couple will meet with their therapist regularly over time, sometimes as often as once a week, and plan to end the therapy when sufficient progress has been made. Between sessions, they’ll often work on assignments (depending on the therapeutic approach used by the therapist).

Sessions with a therapist can be either in person or as digital meetings. The therapist is usually a psychologist or social worker, meaning the couple can share personal information with the therapist, knowing they’re bound by professional confidentiality.

Preventive or pre-crisis counseling

Couples therapy for those with generally well-functioning relationships is known as preventive or pre-crisis counseling. However, there may be underlying issues, such as communication difficulties or a lack of intimacy.

Some couples may also use preventive therapy because they feel that their relationship is on autopilot and want to reconnect. Even if relationship problems are not severe enough to cause significant distress, they may require more guidance than regular therapy.

Preventive couples therapy is also common when a couple wants to proactively work on the relationship before a major life transition, such as having children, getting married, or moving in together.

What are the most common relationship problems?

Every relationship is different, and every partner is unique in their own way. Yet, most of the issues that couples struggle with are not unique. Here are some of the most common problems in a relationship:

  • Lack of appreciation, enjoyment, or fun when together as a couple
  • Recurring arguments or conflicts that lead to fights
  • One or both partners not feeling understood or seen by the other
  • One or both partners withdrawing from the relationship
  • Feelings of loneliness in the relationship
  • Lack of closeness and warmth
  • Lack of trust
  • One or both partners not prioritizing the relationship or each other
  • Dissatisfaction with the sex life

4 signs a relationship needs couples counseling

Relationship problems are common, with about 1 in 3 couples experiencing issues in their relationship. But how does a couple know when their relationship problems can no longer be resolved without outside help? Here are four signs that it may be time to seek couples counseling:

Sign #1: It has become difficult to regain the feeling of closeness

Most couples have conflicts now and then. It’s not much of an issue if they can regain a positive feeling relatively quickly after a conflict. However, if you and your partner find yourselves with chilly demeanors for many hours or even days after a fight, it’ll have a negative impact on your well-being and the situation will likely worsen over time.

Sign #2: You get stuck in the same patterns over and over again

If you and your partner have repeated conflicts in recurring areas where, over time, you haven't improved in your understanding of each other (with these conflicts becoming more charged and easily triggered), then you may need help from a couples therapy professional to break the pattern.

Sign #3: You engage in destructive behaviors towards each other

When partners repeat actions that are knowingly hurtful to one another, it’s a sure sign that help is needed from outside the relationship. This can include frequently criticizing each other or speaking to each other with contempt, as well as raising your voice and shouting at each other during conflicts or using hurtful language.

Sign #4: You don't communicate and withdraw from each other

If it has become a general pattern where one or both individuals in the relationship avoid discussing important matters out of fear of conflicts or because of coldness to each other, you may need more help. In couples therapy, you get guidance on how to discuss emotionally charged topics in a calm manner, with an increased understanding of each other.

How to strengthen your relationship & resolve issues proactively with the AllyCouples app

Perhaps your relationship problems aren't at a level that requires couples therapy. However, there are ways to work on preventing and resolving relationship issues independently so you can build and maintain a healthy relationship. AllyCouples is an app created by psychologists that enables couples to proactively strengthen their relationships and address issues before it’s too late.

By drawing on effective couples therapy methods, AllyCouples provides early intervention for relationship problems, empowering couples to navigate challenges and promote growth. The app is accessible and convenient, allowing you and your partner to engage in therapy whenever and wherever you want.

AllyCouples serves as a proactive ally for cultivating healthier, more fulfilling relationships, offering couples transformative support for lasting love and happiness.

Get started on building a stronger and closer relationship

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