When to Consider Couple Therapy: Signs Your Relationship Needs a Helping Hand

by Alessio Faggioli - MA, BS(H), BA

When to Consider Couple Therapy: Signs Your Relationship Needs a Helping Hand

Understanding Couple Therapy

Couple therapy is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on improving the relationship between two people. It is also known as marriage counselling or relationship therapy. The goal of couple therapy is to help couples better understand their relationship dynamics, improve communication, and resolve conflicts.

Couple therapy is typically conducted by a licensed therapist who specializes in working with couples. The therapist will work with the couple to identify the underlying issues that are causing problems in their relationship. These issues may include communication problems, trust issues, infidelity, financial problems, and more.

During couple therapy, the therapist will help the couple develop new skills and strategies for communicating and resolving conflicts. This may include teaching the couple how to listen actively, express their feelings in a non-threatening manner, and negotiate effectively. The therapist may also help the couple identify and change negative patterns of behaviour that are contributing to their relationship problems.

It is important to note that couple therapy is not a quick fix for relationship problems. It can take time and effort for couples to make lasting changes in their relationship. However, with the help of a skilled therapist, many couples are able to improve their relationship and build a stronger, more fulfilling partnership.

Recognising Relationship Struggles

Couple therapy room

Couple therapy can be an effective way to work through relationship struggles. However, before seeking therapy, it is essential to recognise the signs that your relationship needs a helping hand.

Communication Breakdown

One of the most common signs that a relationship is struggling is communication breakdown. When couples stop communicating effectively, it can lead to misunderstandings, resentment, and conflict. Signs of communication breakdown include talking less, avoiding difficult conversations, and not expressing emotions.

Trust Issues

Trust is the foundation of any healthy relationship. However, when trust is broken, it can be challenging to repair. Signs of trust issues include jealousy, suspicion, and accusations of infidelity. Trust issues can stem from past experiences, such as a history of cheating or a lack of transparency.

Intimacy Difficulties

Intimacy is an essential part of any romantic relationship. However, when couples struggle with intimacy, it can lead to feelings of frustration, resentment, and loneliness. Signs of intimacy difficulties include a lack of physical affection, a decrease in sexual activity, and feeling emotionally distant from your partner.

Acknowledging these signs marks the initial phase of confronting relationship challenges, as couples can then proceed to address their issues and fortify their bond through collaborative efforts.

Assessing Your Relationship's Health

Couple therapy session

Before considering couple therapy, it's important to assess the current state of your relationship. This can help you determine whether therapy is necessary and what areas of your relationship need improvement.

Conflict Frequency

One of the key indicators of a troubled relationship is a high frequency of conflicts. If you and your partner are constantly arguing and fighting, it may be a sign that your relationship is in trouble. However, it's important to note that some conflict is normal in any relationship. The key is to assess whether the conflicts are productive or destructive. Productive conflicts can help you resolve issues and strengthen your relationship, while destructive conflicts can cause lasting damage.

Emotional Disconnection

Another sign that your relationship may need help is emotional disconnection. This can manifest in a number of ways, such as a lack of intimacy, communication, or affection. If you and your partner feel emotionally distant, it can be difficult to maintain a healthy relationship. It's important to assess whether this emotional disconnection is temporary or a long-term issue.

Shared Values and Goals

Finally, it's important to assess whether you and your partner share common values and goals. If you have different values and goals, it can be difficult to maintain a healthy relationship. It's important to discuss your values and goals with your partner and assess whether they align with your own.

Assessing your relationship's health can be a difficult process, but it's an important step in determining whether couple therapy is necessary.

Deciding to Seek Professional Help

When a couple is experiencing difficulties in their relationship, they may be hesitant to seek professional help. However, it is important to recognise when the issues are beyond their control and require the assistance of a professional.

Here are some signs that indicate a couple should consider seeking professional help:

  • Communication breakdown.
  • Constant conflict.
  • Lack of intimacy.
  • Infidelity.

When seeking professional help, choosing a therapist with whom one feels comfortable and can communicate openly and honestly is crucial.

Preparing for Couple Therapy

When considering couple therapy, it is important to prepare for the process. This involves setting realistic expectations and choosing the right therapist.

Setting Realistic Expectations

It is important for couples to understand that therapy is not a quick fix for their problems, rather it’s the beginning of a process. It takes time and effort to work through issues, and progress may be slow at times. Couples should also be prepared to be open and honest with each other and their therapist. This can be uncomfortable, but it is necessary for therapy to be effective.

Couples should also understand that therapy is not a guarantee that their relationship will be saved. In some cases, therapy may lead to the realization that the relationship is not salvageable. In such cases, therapy can still be beneficial in helping the couple end their relationship in a healthy and respectful way.

Navigating Financial Considerations

When considering couple therapy, financial considerations should be taken into account. According to a study, financial issues such as managing finances after job loss can lead to stress and strain on the relationship. It is important for couples to discuss these issues and come up with a plan to manage their finances together. Couple therapy can provide a safe space for couples to discuss these sensitive topics and work towards a solution.

By addressing this concern, couples can focus on the therapy itself and work towards improving their relationship.

Exploring Different Therapy Approaches

When it comes to couple therapy, there are several different approaches that a therapist may take depending on the couple's needs and the therapist's training. In this section, we will explore three common therapy approaches: Emotionally Focused Therapy, Behavioural Therapies, and Psychodynamic Therapy.

Emotionally Focused Therapy

Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) is a popular therapy approach that focuses on the emotional bond between couples. The goal of EFT is to help couples identify and express their emotions in a healthy way, which can lead to a stronger emotional bond and greater intimacy. EFT therapists often use techniques such as role-playing and communication exercises to help couples improve their emotional connection.

Behavioural Therapies

Behavioural Therapies are another common approach to couple therapy. These therapies focus on changing negative behaviours and patterns in the relationship. Therapists may use techniques such as cognitive-behavioural therapy, which helps couples identify negative thought patterns and replace them with more positive ones. Behavioural therapies can also include techniques such as systematic desensitisation, which helps couples overcome fears or anxieties that may be affecting their relationship.

Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic Therapy is a therapy approach that focuses on the unconscious patterns and conflicts that may be affecting a couple's relationship. Psychodynamic therapists believe that unconscious thoughts and feelings can influence behaviour and that by exploring these underlying patterns, couples can gain insight into their relationship and make positive changes. Techniques used in psychodynamic therapy may include emotional awareness, mapping the internal working system of each partner, and exploring childhood experiences.

Couples should feel free to ask questions and discuss their concerns with their therapist to ensure that they are getting the most out of their therapy sessions.

Engaging in the Therapy Process

When a couple decides to seek therapy, it is essential that they engage in the process fully. Engaging in the therapy process means being committed to making positive changes in the relationship and being open to exploring issues that may be difficult to discuss, such as intimacy, sexuality etc.

The therapist will guide the couple through the therapy process, but it is up to the couple to actively participate in the sessions. This means being willing to listen to each other's perspectives, communicate their own thoughts and feelings, and work together to find solutions to problems.

One way couples can engage in the therapy process is by setting goals for therapy. Goals can help the couple stay focused and motivated throughout the therapy process. The therapist can help the couple define their goals and work towards achieving them.

Another way to engage in the therapy process is by being open to feedback. The therapist may provide feedback to the couple about their communication styles, behaviours, and thought patterns. It is important for the couple to be open to this feedback and willing to make changes based on it.

Finally, engaging in the therapy process means being committed to attending therapy sessions regularly. Couples who miss sessions or are inconsistent with their attendance may find it difficult to make progress in therapy.

By actively engaging in the therapy process, couples can improve their communication, strengthen their relationship, and build a better future together.

Evaluating Therapy Progress and Outcomes

Evaluating therapy progress and outcomes is an essential part of couple therapy. It helps both the therapist and the couple to identify if the therapy is working or not. There are several ways to evaluate therapy progress and outcomes.

Observational Measures

Observational measures involve the therapist observing the couple during therapy sessions. The therapist can assess the couple's communication patterns, emotional expression, and behaviour. Observational measures can provide valuable information about the couple's progress in therapy. However, it is important to note that observational measures can be influenced by the therapist's biases and interpretations.

Goal Attainment Scaling

Goal attainment scaling involves setting specific goals with the couple at the beginning of therapy. The therapist and the couple work together to identify specific goals that they want to achieve during therapy. The therapist then evaluates the couple's progress towards these goals throughout therapy. Goal attainment scaling can provide valuable information about the couple's progress in therapy. However, it is important to note that this approach may not be suitable for all couples and may require more time and effort from the therapist.

Overall, evaluating therapy progress and outcomes is an essential part of couple therapy. It can provide valuable information about the couple's progress in therapy and help the therapist and the couple to identify if the therapy is working or not.

Couple therapy in Prague

As a couple therapist serving the expat community in Prague, I bring extensive experience and qualifications to my therapeutic practice. My training in Ireland has bestowed upon me the essential credentials to practice as an accredited Irish and Czech psychotherapist. I hold a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Counselling and Psychotherapy from Ireland, along with a Master's in Psychology from Italy. My specialized training in couple therapy from the Gestalt Institute of Ireland has further refined my approach to assisting couples as they navigate through relationship challenges, fostering a deeper level of understanding and connection.

Couples counselling has been a central focus of my career, and I am deeply committed to empowering couples to recognize their untapped potential and overcome obstacles that may impede their growth. Although the journey of change can pose challenges, it is profoundly fulfilling to witness couples rediscover their love and actualize their shared dreams.