Marriage Counseling – Could it Benefit your Relationship? How do you Know it’s Time for Couples Therapy?
By: Risa Ganel, LCMFT Owner/Principle Therapist
In relationships, as in medicine, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The average couple waits six years after problems begin before seeking couples counseling. Six years. Imagine waiting six years to go to a doctor after discovering a lump in your breast or experiencing severe recurring headaches!
The consequences of neglecting your health are obvious and often dire. The same is true for your marriage. This article explains what marriage counseling is, when you should seek it, and how to choose a therapist.
What is Marriage Counseling?
Marriage counseling is a form of talk therapy that focuses on the relationship between two people as the “client”. While the feelings, needs and concerns of each person are discussed and taken into account, the relationship is viewed as the primary focus of the
Couples therapists are specially trained to work with couples and deal with the complexities of marriage and relationships. Most states regulate and license therapists trained in this specialty. The most frequent title for this specialty is Licensed Clinical
Marriage and Family Therapist, or LCMFT.
Although many therapists, counselors, social workers and psychologists will provide therapy for couples, most are not specially trained and licensed to conduct couples therapy. I’ll talk more about this later.
What are Signs that we may Need Marriage Counseling?
Couples come to our office for a variety of reasons. Some say that they feel like roommates rather than husband and wife. They spend little time together and their sex lives are unsatisfying to one or both of them. They argue more than they enjoy one another and feel they can’t communicate. They want to regain the passion that was once in their relationship.
Sometimes one person has had an affair and the couple want to work through it and remain together. Other times people seek couples counseling because of a specific issue they just can’t seem to resolve on their own, like whose family to visit during the holidays or how to cope together when the children have all moved out of the house.
If you find that the level of respect, trust or intimacy of your relationship is declining or deteriorating, don’t wait for it to just get better on its own.
Certainly if there is active addiction, verbal abuse, or physical abuse, some form of counseling is essential for the health and safety of each person. Sometimes, as with spousal abuse, couples therapy is not appropriate. This is why it is essential to choose a therapist who is specially trained, and who knows when couples therapy is appropriate to pursue and when it is not.
How to Choose a Marriage Counselor?
There are many therapists, social workers, counselors, and psychologists out there. It’s hard to know who is trained to do what. When choosing a Marriage Counselor it is important that they be specifically trained in marriage therapy.
There are organizations that can help you locate someone trained in this specialty, such as The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (www.aamft.org) or Marriage Friendly Therapists (www.marriagefriendlytherapists.com). And you can certainly call Together Couples Counseling now. We are here to help you.
Many states license and regulate therapists and have a licensing board you can contact.
For example, in Maryland the Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists is the regulating body for Marriage and Family Therapists, Counselors and Drug and Alcohol Counselors.
Contact your local regulating body for information in your state or The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy for assistance with finding out who to contact in your state.
A friend of mine has been experiencing back pain for the last several weeks. When I ask him, “So, have you gone to a doctor to get it checked out?” he says, “Nah. You know me. I’m sure it’ll be fine. It’ll go away eventually.” I genuinely hope for his sake that it does. But I really wish he would go see a doctor to make sure.
If you are experiencing problems in your relationship that don’t just go away and even seem to keep recurring, talk to your partner and call us. Don’t let six years go by while your marriage deteriorates.