Effectiveness of Couples Therapy, Couples and Counseling, Marriage Counseling

Posted by: Dr. Justin D'Arienzo, Psy.D., ABPP

Article written by Michael Nackashi (July 2012), Psychology Student and Intern at D’Arienzo Psychological Group


Effectiveness of Couples Therapy, Couples Counseling, and Marriage Counseling

Recently, marital therapy (including couples therapy and couples counseling), is one of the most criticized types of therapy.  A struggling relationship can be very complex and fragile which makes the criticism necessary.

In the past, marriage counseling or couples therapy has struggled to provide effective results.  However, accurate results for couples therapy are hard to find because the definition of “success” in therapy is dependent upon the couple; sometimes success is defined by the couple as a healthy separation.  This makes it difficult to generalize all practices with any kind of “success rate.”  The fact is experienced therapists that truly understand all of the perspectives in the field often help couples improve a relationship.

The lack of research in the field was obvious because the demand for marital therapy wasn’t as high as it is today.  Since the demand for marital therapists has increased, many of the lesser qualified therapists have been selected out by couples seeking help.  Considering that the divorce rate is higher than ever before, efforts to improve marriage counseling or couples therapy has increased significantly.

A therapist should set up an environment that gives partners the courage to speak openly to one another, while also punctuating arguments with positive actions.  When couples speak openly, they understand their partner more thoroughly.  It is the therapist’s responsibility to guide the couple into finding the core of the problem, and then teaching them how to settle the problem through effective communication.  A couples therapist cannot be expected to settle problems directly, but should be expected to provide couples with the skills to settle problems themselves, thus giving couples the ability to settle future problems.

Promising results are based on the motivation of both partners to move forward.  Without the cooperation of only one of the partners, therapy will struggle to succeed.  A relationship requires a somewhat equal and significant effort by both partners.  Therapists believe that if the effort is focused in the right direction, a couple should be able to solve or accept problems.  Most importantly, to have the most success in therapy, couples need to be honest with each other and with themselves.

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