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Couples counselling: Is it for you?

By Mariam Hakim - Aug 26,2018 - Last updated at Aug 26,2018

Photo courtesy of Family Flavours magazine

Relationships and Couples Therapist


If you feel apprehensive about couples therapy, rest assured you are not alone. Many couples reserve going to therapy as a last resort. Even when they finally reach out to a therapist to save their marriage, they are often looking for quick fixes with the least effort and time involvement.

Repairing a troubled relationship needs a lot of effort and commitment from both of you. I always compare it to going to the gym: your personal trainer can only guide and help you reach your goals through her knowledge and expertise. But to get that healthy toned body, your full commitment, effort and dedication are of absolute necessity. Likewise, couples therapy, if approached correctly, has not only the potential to strengthen your bond and your relationship, but can also lead to each partner’s individual growth and personal development as well.

False expectations that can block success 


‘The therapist will decide which of us is right and which of us is wrong’


A therapist is not a judge to tell you who is right and who is wrong. The therapist is a “process consultant” who will help you both identify the habits and patterns that keep each of you stuck and lonely in the relationship and will help you eliminate them.


‘The therapist will 

fix my partner’


It is no secret that most couples come into therapy secretly hoping that the therapist will fix their partner and this will solve their problems in the relationship. The truth is that both of you co-created the problems together and both of you will need to change to improve your relationship. So, instead of merely focusing on the changes your partner needs to make, you need to focus on yourself and the changes you need to make to improve your relationship.


Obstacles to therapy


Waiting too long before starting therapy


The average couple waits seven years before reaching out for help. Some even 15 years and that is really a long time living together in distress. Addressing issues earlier will prevent them from becoming deeper and more stubborn to treat. Do not expect your therapist to be able to quickly and swiftly undo what took years to create; work with the therapist and accept that it will take a while to get back on track. 


Keeping secrets


Often couples enter therapy where one or both partners are keeping secrets, such as having an ongoing affair, or dealing with an addiction. This will sabotage therapy and prevent real change. You can start by telling your therapist about those secrets and she or he can help you decide how to proceed, but definitely do not keep secrets from your therapist.


Not following through


Some couples are very enthusiastic about beginning therapy. They work hard with their therapist to identify areas they get stuck in and agree with the therapist on what needs to be done to get unstuck. But then they fall short on following through and applying those newly learned insights and techniques in their day-to-day interactions. Truth is, spending 90 minutes weekly with your therapist is not enough to bring about real change. You need to apply what you learned in the therapy session to your daily interactions with your partner to see sustainable improvement. 


‘Ghosting’ therapist


Often people start therapy with the best of intentions but discover that they are not ready or able to continue. No matter what your reasons, it is better to share them with your therapist instead of abruptly ending therapy, withdrawing from all communication. For one, the therapist might be able to help you by referring you to a different therapist if you feel there is a personality clash. This conveys respect and keeps the door open for you to easily resume therapy with your therapist in the future. 


Reprinted with permission from Family Flavours magazine

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