By: Sarah Miller
Does couples counseling work? You may wonder if it’s worth the effort, feeling hesitant to hope there’s a way to regain the closeness you once had. All too often, people who come to couples counseling say “this has been years in the making” or “we’ve known we needed this for a long time.” In the height of disconnection, during arguments or long stints of silence, helplessness sets in and your fears emerge: Can couples counseling even help us?
The Importance of Strong Relationships
Your attachment and connection to others is not only important but necessary for optimal survival. Research shows that loneliness can double your risk of heart attack and stroke. Studies also show that emotional isolation presents a more dangerous health risk than smoking or high blood pressure.
Primal Panic: Fear of Disconnection
The fear you experience when you feel disconnected or distant from your partner is very powerful. When you feel disconnected, primal alarm bells can go off in your brain, sometimes overriding your ability to think. You just feel and react.
Oftentimes you’ll react in one of two ways. You may react by becoming demanding and clingy, in an effort to draw comfort and reassurance from your partner. Or you may react by withdrawing and detaching, in an attempt to soothe and protect yourself or the relationship. Unfortunately, these unconscious, default reactions tend to push you both farther apart.
Your real questions and needs lie hidden underneath all this distress. What you’re really asking is likely: Can I count on you? Are you there for me? Do I matter to you? Notice me. Be with me. I need you.
It is no surprise that relationship distress is one of the most common reasons for seeking couples therapy, especially when we depend on our intimate partners more and more for support and connection.
Relationship Counseling Can Help
At Sarah Miller Counseling, I'm devoted to a proven couples counseling approach that works for most couples. Emotionally Focused Therapy, or EFT, emerged in the early 1980s to respond to the growing need for a validated approach to couples’ therapy. EFT now has over three decades of research demonstrating its effectiveness.
So, in short, yes—couples counseling can help! It’s important to recognize that other factors also contribute to getting the results you seek. For example, you increase your chances of success by finding the right therapist, attending therapy consistently, and giving your best efforts.
Sarah Miller Counseling is an inclusive and LGBTQIA+ affirming practice. I work with couples of all types. Whether you’re married or unmarried, gay or straight, I would be glad to help you in your relationship.
Finding the Right Relationship Counselor
With almost two-thirds of therapists in the U.S. offering counseling for couples, it’s important to find a clinician with specific training in working with couples.
The first and most important task of any therapy is creating emotional safety. This becomes even more important in couples therapy—where there are two clients right in the middle of their struggles. To give your relationship the best chance at healing, you’ll want to find a therapist who helps both you and your partner feel comfortable, heard, and understood. I strive to create a climate where openness, honesty, and exploration is encouraged.
Beginning Therapy: What to Expect from Couples Counseling
To take away some of the mystery of how marriage counseling works, here is what you can expect:
In couples counseling, therapy typically begins with one or two joint sessions (with both partners present), followed by one separate session with each partner. These individual sessions help your counselor to understand your personal relationship history and experiences within the relationship. For all subsequent sessions, you will meet with your therapist as a couple.
In EFT, your therapist works collaboratively with you, guiding you and your partner to experience new ways of being with one another. Your therapist will help you to identify and change your patterns, get in touch with your real needs, and communicate in heartfelt ways. The end goal is to help you turn to each other for the love, support, and partnership you long for.
Throughout the marriage counseling process, our therapists focus on:
Empathic Attunement: Connecting with you on a personal level.
Acceptance: Taking a non-judgmental stance.
Genuineness: A therapist who sincerely cares about you and will stay accessible and responsive to your needs and concerns.
Staying Active: Your therapist will actively include both partners in the process.
Seeing the Big Picture: Your therapist pays attention to your relationship needs in addition to each individual’s needs. This helps your therapist to facilitate more connection and better interactions between you.
You’re Not Alone.
With so much on the line, it makes sense to wonder about whether marriage counseling can work for you. When you get lost in the dance of disconnection, we can help you find hope that there’s another way. Couples counseling can work! A Sarah Miller Counseling, I am passionate about helping you and your partner find your way back to each other.
If you’re ready to begin healing your relationship, schedule an appointment today! Just click the button below.