The Truest Thing about Couples Therapy…
Hi everybody, it’s Maggie O’Connor at BreakthroughMFT, helping you reach your ‘breakthrough moment’.
This pandemic is an amplifier for whatever was already going on in your relationship; the good the bad, and the ugly.
You’re not alone if you’re thinking about using couples therapy to help you get through this quarantine, so let’s think this through together.
When people are finishing a course of couples therapy, the thing I hear most often is, ‘I wish we had done this sooner; it didn’t have to hurt so bad for so long’. This is when I wish that people would actually talk more about being in couples therapy outside of the room where it happens.
Here’s the truest thing about couples therapy: people do come to it much later than they probably should.
Either they’ve been spinning in their negative cycle for so long they just really do not know how to get out or they’re coming as a last-ditch effort before divorce. It makes sense – people are understandably afraid of talking about their problems out loud! Let’s break this down into two very common maybe universal factors that make people nervous about starting couples therapy
#1 – “The therapist and my partner are going to gang up on me” (also known as, “it’s going to be all my fault”)
In couples therapy the client is actually the relationship, so to take sides for the therapist would actually be abandoning the ‘client’. It wouldn’t make sense.
That said, a licensed seasoned therapist will be aware of the imbalances in your relationship that make it sometimes feel like it is all your fault or you’re being blamed… But we’re not mind readers; so if at any point you feel blamed or ganged up on, you can and should tell the therapist! A good therapist will slow it way down and make sure that gets addressed before we move any further.
#2 – “This will be the beginning of the end” (also known as “it’s not going to work”)
Sometimes people are coming into therapy (and it’s an appropriate use of therapy) to let go of each other to end a long-term relationship, either for yourselves or for the sake of children in a divorce situation… but that’s not what we’re talking about here.
Assuming you want to stay together, it’s good to express to your therapist the fear that it might not work out. It might even be a good sign that you’re afraid because it reflects a certain investment in the relationship and a hope that it will work out. Most couples who come to therapy are not ‘done with the relationship’, but they are done with the destructive cycles that lead to such disconnection between each other!
As long as two people are sitting on the couch, we have potential to step back from the edge and create better ways of being with each other.
In choosing a therapist:
- Make sure that you’re looking at licensed marriage and family therapists (LMFT’s) or licensed therapists who have advanced training or certification in a couples therapy modality.
- Make sure you feel comfortable with them.
- And then get to work, inside and outside the therapy room.
It doesn’t have to hurt this bad. There are better ways of being with each other.
I’m Maggie O’Connor, hoping this helps you to ‘break on through’.