Are you considering therapy for relationship issues? This guide will be useful to you. Here, you’ll learn when to seek therapy, how it’ll help, and how to find the right therapist. We also tell you about online relationship counseling, what to expect in therapy, and how to get the most out of it. Let’s get started.
When to Seek Relationship Therapy
When is the best time to seek relationship therapy? Do not wait until a divorce is imminent to get therapy. Often, at this stage, there’s not much you can do to salvage your relationship. The best time to start therapy is immediately when relationship issues begin to affect your lifestyle.
What signals the need for an appointment with a relationship therapist?
Get therapy when:
- It’s hard to express your feelings to each other
- There are one or more unresolved conflicts
- There is evident withdrawal, non-ending criticisms, and contempt when you interact
- A distressing circumstance has rocked your relationship
- It’s hard to make decisions together
- Your relationship is rocked with infidelity, substance use disorders, or other problems
- You feel that there’s a need to strengthen your relationship
What if I have other relationship-related problems? The reasons to seek therapy extend well beyond the ones mentioned above. There is no wrong reason to get help from a mental health professional.
You are free to seek therapy at any stage. Whether you are recently married, moving in together, or clocking a decade together, you can always get started. The idea is to solve any issues in time. Even if the issues you are experiencing are of a small magnitude, therapy is the smart way to go. Getting it in time ensures that these minor problems do not develop into bigger, irreversible ones.
According to studies, the typical couple will wait 6 years to seek therapy. You do not have to wait for this long to address your issues. After this duration, your relationship problems will probably be deep-sited, making them hard to resolve.
An important thing to note is that relationship issues are not always romantic. However, it’s a common reason for getting therapy.
How Relationship Therapy Can Help
How will therapy help? Getting therapy is the perfect way to address any relationship problems that undermine the quality of your life. Therapy will help in the following ways.
Therapy Changes Your Views on a Relationship
A therapist can help you change your perspective on your relationship. They will be objective while analyzing your case, making it easy to diagnose the problems more effectively. You might be oblivious of the things you do that contribute to the relationship’s troubles. With therapy, you can easily identify them and work to change them. Ultimately, you’ll understand your relationship better and do your part in making it work.
Therapy Helps Address Dysfunctional Habits
A therapist can help you or your partner change your unhealthy communication habits. It is instrumental when your behaviors around each other can lead to harm. Therapists can help you identify and alter habits across the board: physical, psychological, and emotional. They can also recommend actions that ensure safety, for example, recommend that the couple takes time apart.
Therapy Helps Reduce Emotional Avoidance
Are you hesitant to share your feelings with your partner? Therapy will help you learn how to express your feelings effectively without fear or inhibition. Besides, counseling will ensure that you overcome any fears that lead you to hide your emotions from your partner.
Therapy Improves Communication
Excellent communication helps in mending and sustaining a relationship. Counseling teaches you constructive communication and shows you what to avoid when interacting.
It fosters essential communication by teaching:
- Active listening
- Expressive conversation
Therapy Enhances Your Strengths
Each relationship is unique and comes with its strengths and weaknesses. Counseling will focus on the strengths, recognizing and enhancing them to ensure a more fulfilling relationship. Note, the therapist will not identify the strengths of your relationship. Instead, they will let you identify them and then help you improve them.
How to Find a Relationship Therapist
Different professionals offer relationship therapy, including clinical psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, licensed counselors, and registered marriage and family therapists. You can find a counselor asking references from people you know, whether friends or family. Other than that, you can check out professional directories to find licensed practitioners near you. Better yet, you can find a therapist online from the comfort of your location. Today, many relationship therapists have moved their services online to make it easy for more therapy seekers to get the help they need.
If you consider online relationship counseling, you can try out various therapy platforms that offer affordable subscription plans. Doing this is an excellent way to determine whether online counseling from a specific provider will work for you or not.
Online Relationship Counseling: What Is It & How Does It Work?
There are two options when it comes to finding a relationship issues therapist. You can get in-person counseling, where you attend therapy sessions physically at the therapist’s office. The other option is enrolling for remote counseling sessions via your computer, smartphone, or tablet.
Online relationship counseling is a good option if conventional counseling isn’t or won’t work for you. People choose online relationship counseling for different reasons. Here are the most common ones.
- Distance: web counseling may benefit people who live far from the nearest therapist or people in long-distance relationships.
- Tight schedules: e-counseling is a convenient option for people who have a lot on their plate daily as it offers flexibility.
- Budget concerns: traditional relationship counseling doesn’t come cheap, which has made internet therapy more popular.
- Comfort: online therapy offers a comfortable environment to talk out problems for anyone who doesn’t want to talk face-to-face with a stranger.
So, how does online relationship counseling work? Usually, counseling is conducted through video sessions or messaging via a secure online platform. A client begins by registering on the online therapy platform describing the issues they want help with. The online counseling service then matches the client with a suitable therapist.
Therapy may use a single communication channel, such as text messages, or combine two channels such as text and video therapy. Online relationship therapy is offered for individuals or couples. It’s essential to set goals that you would like to accomplish at the end of counseling to make it effective.
What Can You Expect in Relationship Counseling?
Counseling for relationship issues is usually divided into sessions, which can be spread out throughout the month. In most cases, you will have at least one private session with your therapist every week. In your first session, the therapist will want to know more about you as a person and your relationship with your partner. Therefore, you should expect to answer lots of questions in your first sessions.
If you are attending counseling with your partner, the counselor may want to see both of you separately. They may explore deeper asking about your history, childhood, etc. Once the background stuff is out of the way, subsequent sessions will dissect why you enrolled for therapy. It could be:
- Constant arguments
- Changing values, behaviors, and opinions
- Loss of intimacy
- Significant life changes (a move, job, or loss)
- Feeling under-appreciated
Each couple’s issues are different, and the therapist will listen to you and identify specific issues and their underlying causes. Therapists use different approaches to addressing relationship problems. However, the most common style when it comes to relationship counseling is emotionally-focused therapy (EFT), which is based on attachment theory. This approach provides a language for healthy dependency between partners to help them establish an attachment bond.
Tips to Making Relationship Therapy Effective for You
Relationship therapy is a great route to take if you want to improve your relationship. Whether it is to increase intimacy, resolve an ongoing argument, adjust to a new situation, or learn to communicate better. However, you’ll need to put in work to see results. So, here are some tips that can help to make therapy work for you.
Get Therapy as Soon as Possible
Don’t wait for the problem to linger for too long. Consider seeking therapy as soon as you notice cracks in your relationship. If you let issues slip and eventually pile up, you will never solve them.
Be Open and Truthful
A therapist cannot help you unless you are completely honest about your issues. Many people lie about their issues because they don’t want to be judged. But a therapist will not judge you but help you. Telling the truth will help you work on your issues.
Never Miss Your Sessions
Always show up for your sessions. Commit to following through with therapy to see results. Quitting or skipping sessions will make it harder to achieve your goals.
Put in the Work and Don’t Expect Quick Results
Most people expect to see things working out immediately after they begin therapy. But remember, it takes work, from both you and your partner, and time. So, be patient. Your therapist can help you, but it’s up to you to do the work.
Final Takeaways on Relationship Therapy
A relationship brings joy, self-affirmation, contentment, and many other great emotions during its best time. However, at its worst, it can bring you pain, anger, despair, regret, etc. Relationship therapy attempts to work out these issues and help you build a healthy relationship. If you or a close friend/relative is facing relationship problems of any kind, an online relationship issues therapist might help. Online relationship therapy is affordable and easily accessible and can be a good option for everyone who needs emotional support and guidance when facing relationship troubles.
Kate has a B.S. in Psychology and M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University and has worked in healthcare since 2017. She primarily treated depression, anxiety, eating disorders, trauma, and grief, as well as identity, relationship and adjustment issues. Her clinical experience has focused on individual and group counseling, emergency counseling and outreach.Read more