What is Couples Counseling?
Couples Counseling is a type of psychotherapy in which a therapist with clinical experience working with couples, most often a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist [LMFT], helps two people involved in a romantic relationship gain insight into their relationship, resolve conflict and improve relationship satisfaction utilizing a variety of therapeutic interventions.
It is also referred as Marriage or Relationship Counseling. Some reasons to seek relationship counseling are the following:
Therapy teaches couples how to communicate with each other in a positive manner that works. The type of communication a person grows up around tends to strongly affect how they communicate in their adult relationships.
Counseling can help couples make a conscious choice of communication style and not just fall back on what they know from their history.
There are many issues couples face before they tie the knot. Premarital counseling is a place to discuss many things. One example is finances. Will bank accounts be shared? What about making decisions about what to purchase?
Another consideration is household duties. Are children part of the picture? What role(s) will in-laws play in your life? Couples counseling can be a safe place to start the conversations that need to be addressed.
Sex can be something that heals and brings a couple together, or it can be a battleground fraught with anxiety, embarrassment, anger, and hurt. Relationship therapists encounter sexual issues frequently and can help.
Infidelity and Unfaithfulness
Infidelity within a relationship can be the most hurtful and damaging thing a couple ever goes through, but it does not mean the relationship has to be over. Couples counseling provides a healing space to begin the journey toward resolution. It can help find practical and meaningful ways to navigate how to rebuild the relationship.
Assistance Managing Other Relationships
Couples have relationships with people outside of their relationship together. Friends, extended family, children, coworkers, and supervisors/bosses/professors are just a few. These relationships can be either healthy or unhealthy.
Some things that can be discussed are boundaries with members of the opposite sex or same sex, communication with exes, and together and alone time.
Non-traditional intimate relationships, such as polyamory, open relationships, and swinging, can enrich a couple’s sexual life but they can also have problems and struggles—some of which are specific to their lifestyle and identity, and some that all couples deal with.
Blended Families and Parenting
When one or both partners have children from another relationship, blending has its own specific struggles and difficulties. Parenting differences, the role of the other parent, and the new identity of the family all need to be explored.
The End of a Relationship
When a relationship has ended, whether by mutual agreement or otherwise, managing life can be difficult. Often, individuals need to express anger, sadness, and grief.
There may be practical issues to sort out as well, such as housing and children. Agreeing how and when to communicate is another example of a matter to be discussed in couples counseling.
Digital Age Issues
Facebook. Twitter. Texting. Sexting. Instagram. YouTube. Snapchat. These are just a few ways technology can infiltrate and affect relationships. Communicating via social media has its own pros and cons.
Couples often have conflict regarding who to “friend,” what to “like,” and who to text, block, or chat. Communicating that is not done face-to-face or even on the phone is hard. No matter how many emojis are used, words can be misconstrued and misread. Tone of voice and body language are important to understanding what is being conveyed.
Relationship counseling can help couples work through problems technology has caused and create boundaries with each other to help restore trust when social media have hurt the relationship.
After trust is broken, relationships can be harmed or even destroyed. Part of having a solid and healthy relationship is to be able to trust one another. Learning to trust again is a slow and hard process, and it can be painful and frustrating when it doesn’t happen quickly.
Counseling can educate and assist couples with understanding the process of regaining trust and provide tools and direction to help.
This excerpt has been taken from Goodtherapy.org
Can I go to couples therapy alone?
Most couples report that even if the changes take some time, when one partner changes and chooses to focus on being a better partner, the negative pattern shifts.
Several studies show that individuals who receive relationship-skills training see improvement in their relationship. You can go to relationship counseling by yourself. If your partner refuses to attend couples counseling sessions, you can still attend.
It’s more challenging to mend a relationship this way, but you can benefit by learning more about your reactions and behavior and when you are less critical and defensive that helps your partner be less like that as well.
Is couples therapy covered by insurance?
Insurance does not cover couples therapy. Relationship problems and couples/marriage therapy do not have a “billable diagnostic code” for insurance. Some therapists will give one partner a diagnosis and bill for sessions under that client.
You may be able to find a therapist willing to do this, but they may be a general therapist and not have specialized training to work with couples.
Some therapists ethically wish to avoid labeling one of you when the problem being treated is a relational issue.
Additionally, some couples counselors find that they can be more effective with longer sessions. It is best to tie up loose ends as much as possible in each session and this often requires more time with two people than it does with one.
How to choose a couples therapist?
The therapist who specializes in marriage/couples therapy has extensive and costly training that enables them to do this work.
Marriage/Couples specialists have a minimum of a masters degree. This degree requires years of post-graduate study. After this extensive education, therapists must do their clinical hours under supervision that they pay for on a weekly basis for a minimum of two years.
Most therapists elect additional training in a particular method of couples’ therapy. It is recommended that you ask about these credentials when choosing a marriage/couples counselor.
What is sex therapy?
Sex therapy is a type of psychotherapy that addresses mental health issues and/or emotional concerns affecting a person’s sexual function, drive, and/or desire for intimacy.
These issues are typically explored with the help of a licensed sex therapist. Some people seek help individually, while others may pursue sex therapy with a romantic partner.
In session, a sex therapist will work to help a person or couple seeking help achieve an improved mental and emotional state in order for them to enjoy a more satisfying sexual experience and/or relationships.
Sessions are strictly instructive and verbal, and all exercises that involve physical contact are performed outside of the session.
Sex therapy does not involve having sex with the therapist or being forced to have sexual contact with anyone else.
Therapists may, as part of the process, encourage those in treatment to consider participating in certain intimate activities or exercises with their partner, but a person is never made to do so as part of therapy.
Sex therapy is largely a mental and emotional reflection of one’s own internal conflicts, concerns, and/or questions about sex.
How Can Sex Therapy Help?
Adequate and comprehensive sex counseling can have a positive impact on the psychological and sexual health of a person or couple in therapy, even after only a short period of time.
Still, the effectiveness of the therapy ultimately depends on the willingness of the person in therapy to accept the concepts presented to them during a session.
Most experts agree that sex therapy—like other modes of therapy—is most helpful when all parties honestly consider the concerns raised and make a considered, collaborative (when applicable) effort to work through them.
Sex therapy can be used to address:
- A lack of sexual desire
- Intimacy after infidelity
- A couple’s disparity in sex drives
- Intimacy after having children
- Painful intercourse
- A paraphilia, or desire that cause a person distress
- Sex addictions and/or compulsive behavior
- Difficulties achieving orgasm
- Sexual dysfunction (erectile difficulty, premature ejaculation, delayed ejaculation)
- Aging and Chronic illness (menopause, cancer, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, etc.) and sexual functioning
Sex therapy is not limited to these issues, but these are some of the most common reasons a person or couple may choose to seek out a qualified sex therapist.
How to choose a sex therapist?
When looking for a sex therapist, it’s critical to find a practitioner with the proper credentials to deal with this sensitive subject area.
A sex therapist should be an experienced psychotherapist (licensed marriage and family therapist, licensed social worker, psychologist, licensed mental health counselor) with training in sex therapy from a reputable program, such as those offered by universities, teaching hospitals or institutes.
These programs include instruction in sexual and reproductive anatomy and treatment methods. Other topics covered include sexual abuse, gender-related issues, and sociocultural factors in sexual values and behavior.
Sex therapists become certified through the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT).
Certified therapists must meet rigorous requirements and adhere to a strict code of ethics.
It is generally a good idea to ask potential therapists about their professional training in human sexuality and the specific issues they can address before you make an appointment.
How long will it take for things to get better?
Unfortunately, this is not possible to say.
Couples sense that things are not going well in their relationship but instead of asking for help when they first realize there is a problem they often wait until they can’t take it any longer.
In the process (which can be several years for some couples) more damage has been done and the unhealthy patterns of behavior between the partners have established deeper roots.
Everyone’s circumstances are unique to them and the length of time therapy can take to allow you to accomplish your goals depends on your desire for personal development, your commitment, and the factors that are driving you to seek therapy in the first place.
In my experience therapy offers deeper change and faster results if it happens on a weekly basis in order to create momentum.