It’s never too early to start therapy together. It’s not IF you and your partner will need therapy, it’s WHEN. Many couples needed therapy early on in their relationship when the first signs of value differences, religious or familial differences started to arise. These can grow and cause tension and separation without professional 3rd party mediation. 

If couples were more proactive in the beginning, did a few sessions with a therapist, the likelihood they would have a positive experience when they were in a more secure and trusting place in their relationship. Furthermore, the percentage rate of them seeking out that therapist (if they liked the therapist) when something bigger comes up, goes up significantly. 

Couples who have a strong, safe support team on their side where both people feeling seen and heard will succeed through times of struggle with more ease than couples who are starting from scratch. 

Couples who start early will also understand how therapy can help them resolve problems and learn positively focused communication— all which increase their satisfaction and trust level with each other. 

Couples should consider couples therapy when they can’t resolve something, a negative trigger, behavior or experience that causes them to turn away from each other, or cycle again and again without feeling relieved from the issue at hand.  

Couples who seek out therapy before getting married or having a child would be proactively seeking guidance on major life transitions. Couples who are willing to get help early on have more skills to weather outside forces like children, extended family members or work that often come between couples if they don’t know how to manage them. 

Individual therapy is a perfect opportunity for someone to track their past experiences, in childhood, that may effect how they act as an adult. We all carry personality traits and thoughts about ourselves and others into our adult life. Individual therapy can help make sense of how our thoughts and behaviors influence our relationship. 

It’s important that if someone seeks individual therapy, that they use the time to process the relationship in a way that is helpful and fair to their partner. If that time is strictly focused on what the partner has done wrong, and the therapist, who has never met the partner agrees and makes their partner ‘the bad person,’ or Identified problem, it can do harm to the relationship. 

There’s always two people responsible for how the dynamic in the relationship shows itself. The exception to this is when their is physical or emotional violence or abuse being reported. The priority in that case would be to support the client to have a safety plan to possibly remove themselves from the relationship or home. 

In couples therapy, the relationship is the client. The couple therapist remains neutral about the dynamic and instead focuses on how the couple can work through their differences while calling attention to behaviors and words that cause the dynamic to get worse. 

Couples therapy can hold the container for childhood trauma, anxiety or depression but works with the couple to explore those areas together rather than treating them directly or individually. 

Yes absolutely. When one person in the relationship receives therapy and the focus is on personal accountability, increasing understanding and practicing positive communication skills, the relationship will benefit from that attention.

Furthermore, I’ve often seen the partner who wasn’t in therapy begin therapy after witnessing their spouse look and feel better from going to therapy. Also, it often leads to the couple getting couples therapy because the partner feels the intention and commitment to show up for the relationship and they become more open to seeking outside help. 

Couples therapy is unnecessary if the couple reports knowing how to resolve disagreements, feel safe and secure with each other, have a clear understanding of how their partner feels loved and both partners know how to help each other feel accepted and cared for when they feel overwhelmed or triggered. And when both partners report having a minimum of 80% satisfaction within their relationship.

Online couples therapy can work when in-person sessions aren’t possible. Here are some pros and cons of online therapy versus in-person couples therapy:

1. The therapist may have a harder time tracking the physical cues of each partner through the video screen. Certain facial cues are harder to read online than in-person. Those quick cues help the therapist track if one or both partners disagrees with what their partner is saying or is having a subtle but important internal reaction.

2. Audio sound quality online depends on technology, microphones and the computer being used, plus the ambient space of each room. Those can become frustrating or take up time and energy that could be used for a deeper exploration or resolution of the problem being presented. It’s important for the couple to be sitting in front of a computer with it raised to their face height so they aren’t looking down. I recommend they use an external microphone or speaker as well to ensure the best connection possible.

3. Being online at home, a couple sometimes finds it easier to make couples therapy a priority. By not having to drive somewhere, it may help them show up where driving and scheduling the time may make it harder for them.

4. The downside to being at their home is that in-person sessions help them brake from their normal routine and space which often ‘’levels the playing field” because they both have to adjust to something new together. Moreover, couples won’t get interrupted by deliveries, children, phones or internet connection issues.

5. In-Person sessions allows the therapist to try more somatic or body-oriented interventions with couples that can’t be done online. For instance, in my office I have two rolling chairs so couples can remain sitting and back up from each other. They would be off the screen if I tried that online and wouldn’t be able to monitor their reactions. I also have a couch for intimacy exercises that are very hard to recreate online.

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