Who Needs Couples Therapy?
Have you been questioning if you need couples therapy? It’s been a difficult year for many couples regardless of how healthy their relationship was before the start of the pandemic, so if you’re wondering if you need couples therapy, you’re not alone. We’re facing new and unexpected stressors, such as prolonged isolation, worry over a potentially deadly virus, and record levels of unemployment. Add to this the stress that no one knows exactly when life will return to normal, and we can begin to have more compassion for ourselves and each other during this time.
Of course, relationship challenges are a normal part of daily life, and even the most loving couples have their ups and downs. But if you’ve really been struggling lately, you may want to consider couples therapy to help you get through these tough months.
Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder
We’ve all heard that old proverb: Absence makes the heart grow fonder. It’s true, most people would agree that they need some time away from their partner now and then, especially if they’ve been together for a long time. It’s actually healthy for us to have our own interests or hobbies, and to maintain important social bonds outside of the relationship. For example, we don’t have to enjoy fishing just because our partner does, but we can help them pack for a fun afternoon on the water. And, while they’re away, we have a few hours to ourselves to do something that we do enjoy. During normal times, these things create space for us to remain individuals, to grow, and to create meaning in our lives. It also means that we have more to share when we do spend time with our partner. This is an important aspect of self-care and identity. Without this personal time we can have the growing sense that we’re losing who we are to the relationship.
But the pandemic has made it more difficult for us to meet our basic needs for both connection and space. We’re spending much more time at home, so the roles and activities we used to enjoy in the outside world have greatly narrowed. At the same time, we may be relying on our partner to meet more of our emotional needs than ever before because we aren’t able to see friends or family. Or, maybe we feel like new demands are being placed on us, or that we just need some time alone.
Couples therapy is a great tool no matter where you are in your relationship. It’s important to remember that all of these emotions are valid, and how truly challenging this last year was. We can even begin to lose sight of the fact that it won’t be this way forever.
Signs You Need Couples Therapy
Whether there’s a relationship issue that you’re currently dealing with, or you’d simply like to improve communication with your partner, couples therapy creates a safe environment to explore your concerns.
If you aren’t sure if couples therapy is right for your situation, here are some common signs that it’s time to schedule a free consultation:
1. Loss of Trust
Is your relationship in crisis mode? If there’s been a breach of trust, it can be difficult to heal and move forward in the relationship. This can be one of the most painful and damaging relationship injuries to overcome. Trust is often lost when one partner doesn’t respect an important relationship boundary. In this case, we often think of physical or emotional infidelity, but there are other ways trust can be lost. Couples therapy can help re-establish a sense of safety within your relationship.
2. You’ve Drifted Apart
Sometimes couples shut down as the result of a traumatic event, but other times it’s just the stress of daily life. While we may not think of it in those terms, the pandemic can be considered a traumatic event. If your conversations seem surface level lately, or you’ve emotionally or physically drifted apart, couples therapy can help you reconnect.
3. Arguments Threaten the Relationship
If you notice that you’re having more arguments, or that you seem to be rehashing the same disagreement over and over again, couples therapy can show you how to break unhealthy communication patterns.
All couples have the occasional spat. We get hangry, the kids are whining, or work is stressful. But if your communication (or lack of communication) has begun to feel destructive to the relationship, it’s important to consider new solutions.
No one is perfect, but conflict shouldn’t break down into tearing each other apart. A good therapist can teach you techniques to better resolve issues with your partner. If there’s lashing out, passive aggressiveness, or stone walling in your relationship, those are key signs that something needs to change.
4. Addiction or Other Mental Health Concerns
People are reporting higher levels of depression and anxiety during the pandemic, and more people are turning to excessive alcohol consumption to help them handle the stress they’re under. If you have concerns about mental health or substance abuse in your relationship, couples therapy is a good place to begin sorting out the source of the problem. It can also help you take action to address it.
Integrative Behavioral Couples Therapy
At COPE Psychology, we offer integrative behavioral couples therapy. IBCT is an evidence-based treatment for couples that originated from the branches of behaviorism and the principles of social learning. If behaviors are learned, then it’s possible to change unhealthy behaviors. IBCT focuses on improving conflict-resolution skills, and integrates a variety of treatment strategies. Evaluation and feedback are important steps before moving forward into a phase of finding active solutions.
Schedule a Free Consultation
Does your relationship need some extra support during this time? Schedule a free consultation at COPE Psychological Center. Our mission is to offer collaborative, holistic mental health care in combination with evidence-based treatments that consider the whole person.
If you think couples therapy might be right for your relationship, you can contact us by calling 310-453-8788, or use the quick email form below. We’re always happy to answer any questions you have, so don’t hesitate to reach out. Sometimes, asking for help is the hardest part.