Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Debunking Couples Therapy Myths


Couples Therapy Myths

This article was originally published on Healing Moments Counseling.

Every relationship encounters hurdles and complexities. While some issues may be swiftly resolved, others demand more effort. It’s crucial to acknowledge that seeking external support can prove invaluable when confronting relationship challenges beyond personal capacity.

When a relationship reaches a stage where partners feel disconnected or trapped in a negative pattern, opting for couples therapy becomes a prudent decision. Unfortunately, prevalent misconceptions often dissuade couples from pursuing this beneficial path. Let’s debunk some of these myths and shed light on the truth behind couples therapy.

Myth #1: Couples Therapy Is Not Effective

Sadly, many therapists who work with couples do not have specialized training in couples therapy such as Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy, Gottman Method Couples Therapy, the Psychobiological Approach to Couples Therapy (PACT), Imago, etc.

This is a problem. Seeing a therapist who is NOT trained to specifically work with relationship challenges, will not be effective. 

Research in both Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy [1] and Gottman Method Couples Therapy [2] indicated couples therapy can be effective.

Myth #2: Couples Therapy Is Only For Troubled Relationships

One of the most common myths is that couples therapy is solely for couples on the brink of separation or experiencing severe problems. 

In reality, couples therapy can benefit relationships at any stage and can help improve communication, strengthen emotional bonds, and enhance overall relationship satisfaction. 

Essentially, the best intervention is prevention. 

Myth #3: The Therapist Will Take Sides

Another myth is that the therapist will choose sides or favor one partner over the other. 

In reality, couples therapists are neutral and impartial professionals who strive to create a safe and supportive environment for both partners. Their role is to facilitate communication, promote understanding, and work toward mutually beneficial solutions. 

Myth #4: Couples Therapy Is A Quick Fix

Dispelling this myth is crucial. Couples therapy is not a magical solution that instantaneously resolves all relationship issues. While a well-trained therapist utilizing evidence-based approaches can facilitate a more efficient process, the duration of therapy depends on the unique challenges and dynamics of each relationship. On average, effective couples therapy can last three to six months, with motivated partners. This time frame lays the foundation for a more stable relationship.

Complexities such as infidelity may extend the duration of therapy, as healing and reconnection take time. An adept couples therapist with specialized training expedites the journey towards connection. However, progress requires dedication, commitment, and effort from both partners. 

Couples therapy provides a supportive framework and guidance, but the true transformation occurs outside the therapy sessions, as couples actively implement and practice new ways of interacting.

Myth #5: Couples Therapy Is Unnecessary If Love Is Strong Enough

Love and commitment are essential elements of a relationship, but they are not enough

Couples therapy can help address underlying issues, strengthen the foundation of the relationship, and enhance the skills necessary to maintain a healthy and fulfilling partnership where love can thrive. 

Myth #6: The Therapist Will Tell You Whether To Stay Together Or Break Up

While couples therapy can help couples explore their options, the therapist’s role is not to make decisions for your relationship. Therapists focus on helping partners improve communication, resolve conflicts, and gain insight into themselves and their relationship. Ultimately, the decision to stay together or separate is up to the individuals involved.

Myth #7: Talking About Our Challenges Will Only Make Things Worse

One of the most prevalent fears couples have when considering therapy is that addressing their problems openly will only exacerbate the situation. This myth often stems from a fear of confrontation, concerns about causing hurt feelings, or a belief that it is best to avoid discussing sensitive topics altogether. 

However, in reality, avoiding discussions about relationship issues can lead to festering resentment, misunderstandings, and further deterioration of the relationship. Couples therapy provides a safe and structured environment where both partners can express their thoughts, concerns, and emotions in a constructive manner. A skilled therapist can guide the conversation and help establish healthy communication patterns that promote understanding, empathy, and resolution. 

By addressing problems head-on, couples can gain insight into each other’s perspectives, strengthen their emotional connection, and work together to find solutions, dispelling the myth that talking about problems will inevitably make things worse.

Myth #8: The Therapist Will Blame Me For All Our Problems

One common misconception that many individuals have when considering couples therapy is the fear that they will be solely held responsible for all the issues within their relationship. This myth often stems from a combination of self-doubt and anxiety about facing potential criticism or judgment. 

However, it is essential to understand that couples therapy is not about placing blame, but rather about fostering understanding and promoting healthier communication and connection. A skilled therapist will work diligently to create a safe and non-judgmental space where both partners can openly express their concerns, feelings, and perspectives. 

By encouraging open dialogue and providing unbiased guidance, couples therapy aims to facilitate mutual growth and shared responsibility in addressing relationship challenges, dispelling the myth that one person must bear the burden of blame.

It’s important to separate the myths from the reality when considering couples therapy. Consulting with a qualified couples therapist can provide a better understanding of the process and help determine whether it’s the right approach for your relationship.

The Key To Successful Couples Therapy: 

Couples therapy myth

The key to successful couples therapy can be summarized as the equation:

Motivated Partners + Competent Couples Therapists = Successful Couples Therapy. 

Motivation is crucial because both partners must be willing and committed to actively participating in the therapy process. It requires a genuine desire to work on the relationship, address underlying issues, and make positive changes. 

A competent therapist plays a vital role in guiding the couple through this journey. They possess the expertise, knowledge, and techniques necessary to facilitate effective communication, foster understanding, and provide tools for resolving conflicts. A competent therapist creates a safe and supportive environment where couples can openly express their thoughts and emotions without fear of judgment. 

By combining the motivation of both partners with the expertise of a skilled therapist, couples can unlock the potential for growth, healing, and ultimately, success in their therapy journey.

References

[1] Wiebe, S. A., Johnson, S. M., Lafontaine, M.-F., Burgess Moser, M., Dalgleish, T. L., & Tasca, G. A. (2017). Two-Year Follow-up Outcomes in Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy: An Investigation of Relationship Satisfaction and Attachment Trajectories. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 43(2), 227–244. https://doi.org/10.1111/jmft.12206 [2] Garanzini, S., Yee, A., Gottman, J., Gottman, J., Cole, C., Preciado, M., & Jasculca, C. (2017). Results of Gottman Method Couples Therapy with Gay and Lesbian Couples. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 43(4), 674–684. https://doi.org/10.1111/jmft.12276



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