Updated June 20, 2015.
Counseling or psychotherapy remains a mystery for a lot of people. Some think that going to psychotherapy means that you are crazy, which is far from the truth. Others simply do not understand it. There is additionally a great deal of mystery around couples and marital counseling, which likely prevents many couples in need from seeking it out. This article will debunk five myths about couples counseling with the goal of shedding light on this much needed service.
Myth 1: If you need couples counseling, you should not be together in the first place.
The myth that you should not be together in the first place if you need couples counseling is especially believed for newer couples who are not married. In reality, for a couple who is serious about each other but having a hard time in their relationship, seeking couples counseling is a wise move. It is a move that could either save their relationship in the present, prevent problems from getting worse and save them from years of marital distress in the future.
Further, a lot of the patterns that people experience with partners in relationships are replicated with other partners if they are not figured out and resolved. It only makes sense to take care of such patterns and problems in the present.
Many people have never experienced or witnessed a healthy relationship. Traditional education systems have yet to offer courses on how love works. However, being in a strong relationship is something desired by most people.
Couples counseling is one way that many people choose to create a solid relationship. The decision to pursue couples counseling by no means indicates that two people should not be together.
Myth 2: Counseling takes forever
While it is true that people sometimes choose to spend years in counseling, when a couple seeks out help, they want problems to be resolved as soon as possible. Short-term forms of couples counseling, therapy or coaching exist. In fact, the most rigorously researched form of couples counseling that has been demonstrated to help nine out of ten couples make improvements in their relationships, Emotionally Focused Therapy, has been found to last between eight to twenty sessions for couples without a history of trauma. Solution Focused Brief Therapy is another form of counseling that is also often used with couples.
Myth 3: People just go to couples counseling to break up
The majority of people who suggest couples counseling to their partners care enough about their relationships to get help for them. Some couples may not resolve all of their problems in couples counseling and make a decision to end their relationships during this process, but it is rare that someone suggests couples counseling just to break up with their partner.
Myth 4: The counselor is going to take sides
Some people would never set foot in a couples counselor's office due to the fear that the counselor will take sides with their partner. Properly trained couples counselors are able to be empathetic with both partners and take a stand for the relationship, not either individual.
Myth 5: Couples counseling is just a waste of money. You should not have to pay a third party just to hear each other vent.
First, it is important to note that couples counseling involves quite a bit more than venting or complaining about each other with a third party. Forms of couples counseling such as Emotionally Focused Therapy have been demonstrated to have good results for most couples, and it involves a great deal more than just venting.
Couples therapy can come with a price tag, but it is usually a fraction of the cost of divorce. There are also opportunities to seek counseling at educational institutions with graduate students under supervision at a lower price point. A healthy relationship has countless benefits even beyond happiness and is therefore worth investing in.
Byrne, M., Carr, A., & Clark, M. (2004). The efficacy of behavioral couples therapy and emotionally focused therapy for couple distress. Contemporary Family Therapy: An International Journal, 26, 361-387.
Johnson, S., Hunsley, J., Greenberg, L. & Schindler, D. (1999) Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy: Status & challenges (A meta-analysis). Journal of Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 6,67-79.