The Truth About Going for Couple’s Counseling
Jun 30, 2016 11:02PM
● By Bill White
When a person suggests couple’s counseling, they are often met with reasons and excuses from their partner, like: We can do this ourselves; It’s a waste of money; I don’t need anyone telling me how to live my life; I don’t need it. You do; People get worse when they go see a counselor; I can figure this out by talking to my friends and family; The reason counselors get into the field is because they need help; Counselors just want your money.
Some of these reasons are valid and some are not. Making the decision to get expert assistance—and actually going—can be daunting. On the other hand, it could be one of the best decisions ever made for the relationship, and it could make things much easier for both parties. These are some truths about couple’s counseling.
• Counseling is one of those fields where the range of quality among professionals can be huge. One may have to shop around to find someone who is truly skilled. They may interview a few professionals or pay for initial assessment sessions before finding a good fit.
• Life and relationships are complex. Our self-awareness and self-understanding is more limited than we realize. We all can use outside support from time to time.
• We don’t have a very big tool kit to choose from when we get tangled up with each other. Our parents and caretakers didn’t have the tools for resolving conflict and having healthy communication, and we certainly weren’t taught them in school.
• It’s good to get input and support from friends and family—but not with love and relationship concerns. Friends and family are not specialists in relationships. The other problem is that speaking badly about a partner to friends and family alienates them. We may forgive the partner in time, but others may continue to hold a negative attitude toward them.
• It is expensive to hire a professional. We hire professionals for our cars, our computers, our divorces and our plumbing. How expensive is it if we don’t hire these professionals?
• Counselors likely have needed counseling help themselves, and hopefully they have gotten help. A few counselors are in it for the money and don’t care about people, just like any profession. We should be selective about who we choose to assist us in our personal life.
• Part of the reason for limited and ineffective results in counseling is that most people wait until the relationship is unbearable before they go. Counseling is often the last resort. It is far better to nip things in the bud. Even better is to hire a professional in the beginning of the relationship to help design the relationship to, a) prevent problems, and b) consciously create a happy, lasting relationship.
• It is easier to navigate relationship issues with a skilled professional than to go the do-it-yourself route. What would basketball be without a coach or a referee? Coaches and referees are not playing the game. They’re watching from the outside to notice things that the players don’t see. Counselors do the same for couples.
It takes courage to admit we need help, to admit that we don’t have all the answers, but couples may find the end result of counseling is a surprisingly happy, playful and communicative love relationship.
Bill White is a relationship and communication specialist in Tucson, AZ. Connect at TheHealthyCouple.com.