Can a Couples Therapist Save Your Relationship or Marriage?

By Staff Writer    11-Feb-2019 05:46 UTC+02:00

It is often said that all relationships go through ups and downs. Most people commit themselves to long-term relationships aware of this fact, hoping to experience more ups than downs in their romantic journeys. However, for countless couples, things often don’t go as expected. A number of problems usually arise along the way. While some couples are able to resolve whatever problems they face and continue enjoying each other’s companionship for life, many relationships and marriages have sad endings, involving bitter breakups and divorces.

According to STATS SA, about 40% of marriages end in divorce before their 10th anniversary. This figure is corroborated by a Psychology Today article, which also states that the percentage of breakups is even higher among unmarried couples. Relationships and marriages fail for a variety of reasons. In some cases, the reasons behind the breakups or divorces are problems that can be successfully addressed with the help of a couple’s therapist, especially if the couple still has a desire to be together.

However, some people do not believe that couple’s counseling can help them. Others see going for counseling as letting someone else take charge of their lives. For example, when rapper Cardi B’s estranged husband Offset suggested that they go for counseling to work things out, she refused because she didn’t believe it would make her change her mind. “I didn’t want to go to marriage counseling,” she told Harper’s Bazaar in an interview. “There’s no counselor or nothing that could make me change my mind. Nobody makes my decisions about my life but me,” the rapper added. According to therapists, such pessimism towards therapy is common and may stand in the way of help.

A previous study found the modern approach to couple’s therapy, known as integrative behavioral couples therapy (IBCT) to be effective for 71% of couples. Clearly, even though a positive outcome cannot be guaranteed for every couple, there is a good chance that consulting a couple’s therapist may improve your relationship or marriage, which could in turn improve your mental and physical well-being. Marital discord is said to have negative effects on health.

Despite couple’s therapy having been shown to be effective, many couples still choose to either part ways or stay in discordant relationships without giving it a try.

As internet access continues to grow globally, psychologists and therapists have started adapting to the changing times, and efforts are being made to extend the reach of therapies like IBCT. Counseling services are now easily accessible online and their popularity is growing fast in developed countries. Nonetheless, it is important to note that most of the available couple’s therapy efficacy data is derived from the outcomes of in-person therapy.

Currently, data on the effectiveness of online couple’s counseling is limited. However, recent research has shown the approach to be effective in improving relationship satisfaction. Also, comparative studies of outcomes from other forms of therapy, e.g. depression therapy targeted at individual patients, have shown that online counseling can be as effective as talking to a therapist in person. Therefore, for couples in need of therapy, online couple’s counseling may be worth exploring, especially if talking to a therapist face-to-face would be inconvenient due to work commitments, geographical location, etc.

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