Many people are skeptical of the implementation of behavioral couples therapy (BCT) in treating substance use disorders (SUDs). However, understanding more about the benefits of couples therapy and what it entails can help.
The reasons a couple decides to try counseling are dependent on whatever hardships their relationship is experiencing. Common problems that arise within a relationship include lack of communication, emotional vulnerability, or lack of acceptance of aspects of each person. Examples might include the inability for one partner to say how they feel, a general lack of empathy due to a childhood trauma that makes it difficult to be emotionally available, or issues with each other’s families that the other simply can’t or won’t accept.
It can also be challenging for people to choose to enter couples therapy. Whether it’s due to a general stigma of therapy or the fear of being too vulnerable with your partner and a stranger – a clinical professional – the decision not to enter therapy can be much worse. Of course, the therapist you see has to be a good fit for both of you, and sharing your feelings with a stranger is unnerving when you can’t even share them with each other. Isn’t it worth trying to save the relationship, though? Isn’t love worth the risk?
Why Do People Go to Couples Therapy?
The reasons couples decide to enter into therapy vary. It could be an extreme situation where infidelity occurs, and the couple is attempting to rebuild their trust and move forward. A couple could also seek out therapy for a less severe circumstance where they are trying to improve their communication with each other. Some may try to remedy their problems without professional help. At times, the issues become too big to be handled alone.
Addiction itself can be a reason for seeking couples therapy. One partner may suffer silently, and when it’s revealed they have a problem or that they’ve made decisions while under the influence that has affected their partner or family, it breaks down trust between the couple.
Other reasons couples consider therapy include:
- Disagreements about children or differences in parenting techniques
- Letting careers interfere with the time that should be spent together or with family
- Feeling a loss of connection, or “spark,” between you two in which case therapy may help you figure out how to get it back
Reasons for couples therapy don’t have to be big or small. At the end of the day, everyone needs a little help. Coupes therapy is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.
What to Expect From Couples Therapy
To begin, a couples counselor will typically begin sessions by getting to know both of you and your relationship. They may start by discussing your childhood and then progressively begin to learn more about how you first met, began a relationship, and decipher from the background history the root causes of your struggles.
Patience is critical when beginning couples therapy. It can feel like a never-ending game of 20-questions, and you may find yourself wondering when the real work will begin. However, understanding your pasts is essential to understanding your present problems and creating a plan to improve your futures together.
Once the core of the problem is understood, the work can begin. You first must determine what you hope to achieve from couples therapy, and whatever that is may evolve as time goes on. To achieve the desired outcomes, each partner will have to learn new skills, whether it’s communication, honesty, or being patient with each other.
You can also expect your therapist to assign some homework outside of therapy. The homework is an extension of the work you do in therapy and is essential if the therapy will ever improve your relationship. You can discuss thoughts and feelings together with your therapist, but until you can work through things together on your own, more work will have to be done.
What Do Couples Get Out of Therapy?
What couples get out of therapy depends on what each couple hopes to achieve. Regardless of your goals, you’ll get what you put into it. If one partner isn’t on board and receptive to participating, doing the homework, and taking advice, then there will be little success. It takes two to tango, and if one of you doesn’t dance, there’s only so much that can be done. Couples that do put in the effort, though, will experience a plethora of benefits, including:
- Improving communication and learning to be honest about your feelings
- Learning to practice understanding and forgiveness in a way that allows you to rebuild your foundation of trust
- Being able to create time for each other in a way that establishes support, intimacy, and the connection you may have lost
Deciding if couples therapy is right for you requires knowledge and self-reflection. If you go into it half-hearted, you both may suffer more, but entering with open minds may allow you to learn more about each other and maybe even yourselves.
Couples therapy has proven beneficial for many who have lost their spark with each other. Some may be ashamed to admit they’ve been to couples therapy, but there’s nothing to be ashamed about. The traumas of our past directly affect our relationships in the future. Part of couples therapy is getting to the root cause of that trauma, understanding how it affects your relationship, and developing a plan to improve it. Common issues that wreak havoc on couples include lack of communication, dishonesty about feelings, and the destruction of trust between a couple. By attending couples therapy with an open mind, acknowledging what work needs to be done, and doing that work with maximum effort, these issues can be remedied and make your relationship even stronger. To learn more about seeking couples therapy or even therapy for yourself, call Dream Recovery at (949) 732-1960 – let the dream team help you today.