Whether you call it marriage counseling, couples therapy or relationship counseling, what you’re signing up for is inviting a couples therapist into the life of your relationship to help you and your partner grow.

Just as every individual who comes to therapy needs something different, so do the needs of each couple vary from relationship to relationship. Do you need a mediator? Or someone to be the tough with you both? Is the relationship suffering from a failure to communicate well? You may or may not have ideas about just what sort of help you need (and you and your partner may have very different ideas), but to start, rather than plugging you into a pre-set program, we’ll learn more about what’s going on and create the plan together.

Let’s be honest: In couples therapy, we’re not kidding around

If you and your partner are seeking couples therapy, it’s likely there’s good reason, and you probably don’t have the time to work back through the history of your relationship and analyze the details of your personality. Sure, some of that will likely be a necessary part of getting great help, but you won’t need to hang around for weeks before we’re able to get to work.

I can handle the tough stuff

Violence, anger, drugs and alcohol, and infidelity can all challenge a relationship and if they’re a part of the picture, we need to get honest about that. These are all issues that can be confronted in working with a skilled therapist. When everyone’s committed to doing the work, being open about the ways the relationship has been hurtful (the hurt that’s been received and the hurt that’s been given), there’s room for tremendous growth.

All kinds of different relationships in couples therapy

Couples therapists come from all walks of life and I assume you do, too. While it is critical to have a couples therapist who will do the work to get to know you and your relationship, I won’t need a dictionary to understand the basics of:

Getting started with couples therapy

While many couples come in ready to get to work, there’s understandably a good deal of apprehension around getting started with couples therapy. Often one partner is more comfortable with the idea than the other, and that’s par for the course. The biggest challenge is making the first session happen:

How long will couples therapy take?

As long as it takes. While there is no definitive number of sessions, here are a few of the core principles that will help bring clarity to that question:

Is it weird to seek couples therapy if we aren’t married?

No. In fact, only about half of the couples I see for couples therapy are married. There are all kinds of relationships, and all sorts of reasons for seeking help.

We’re not certain we plan to stay together. Does that mean we’re not ready for couples therapy?

In good couples therapy, the question of whether or not both people in the relationship are committed to continue has to be discussed, however uncomfortable that may be. I lean toward helping people find a way to live out their original commitment to each other, if that’s possible. We all know it isn’t always possible and that will be your decision, but I like to help couples see what might be possible for their relationship before they call it quits.

We don’t really have “problems” but still feel like we need some therapy.

Problems can be a tricky pitfall in therapy: We tend to understand a pre-condition of therapy as “having problems.” Sometimes that’s clear (we fight a lot, we deeply disagree about fundamental matters) and sometimes there’s not much “wrong” – no problems per se – and yet one or both participants in the relationship want more. More intimacy. More fun. More variety. Better sex. More freedom. A better partnership as parents. What’s great in these cases is that the work can be driven not by problems, but by wanting–a powerful force for growth if we let it.

I’m worried we’re just going to fight the whole time. Isn’t that a waste of time and money?

You won’t fight the whole time. I promise. As part of the process of sorting through the challenging stuff of the relationship sometimes intense feelings will come out – they need to. The value of a great couples therapist is to provide a place where this can happen but to also ensure things won’t get out of control.

Can Couples Therapy create the relationship of your dreams?

Relationships are never perfect and this isn’t the goal of couples therapy. The main objective of Free Your Mind Counseling Services couples counseling is to help you embrace imperfections, capitalize on strengths and celebrate each other’s differences. Everyday we feel the pressure to have everything under control, to be free of problems, and to be madly in love with every aspect of our partner. The pressure of trying to force a relationship to be perfect can get intense. This is one reason why couples therapy is so hard: It seems like relationships shouldn’t be such a struggle and that they aren’t this hard for other couples.

By seeking solutions for the difficulties in your relationship and admitting that you need help you’re taking the first step to giving up on idealism and moving towards building a better relationship. Why is this so important? Idealism is all about how things should be. It’s shaped by the fantasy portrayed in movies, books and the facade others parade in public. Inevitably, these idealistic ideas creep in:

None of these sentiments are grounded in the hard, day-to-day reality of making relationships work. In great couples therapy the goal is to root out these ideals and the ways they can interfere with creating an actual, messy, imperfect but wonderful, loving relationship. When we move the shoulds out of the way, we can get real and get to work.

Couples therapy is seriously hard work

Most therapists, if they’re honest, will tell you that couples therapy is among the most challenging work they do. At Free Your Mind Counseling, we will work together to put out the fires and help prevent them from starting. As a team, we will establish conditions for productively sorting through the fog, creating a relationship where everyone can grow and find a way to connect and navigate the landmines that you lay for each other. That’s not easy: Everyone needs to be heard, to not feel “ganged up on” and yet it’s equally important that everyone be honest about what isn’t working and why so we can go about changing that.

Couples therapy is hard work. Signing up for couples therapy probably means having your partner expose some of your messier stuff, while having to take a look at it not just on your own terms, but on the terms the relationship needs.

If you have additional questions, or are ready to schedule an appointment, Contact Me Today! Because Your Happiness Matters.

Call: 941-451-7396


Email: fymcounseling@gmail.com

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Strong unions don’t just happen, they are built. While you are busy getting all the preparations together for your big day, don’t forget the important

preparations for a love that will last a lifetime. If you are planning to get married or making a long-term commitment, counseling will help you and your partner navigate the many stages of your relationship ahead and will help you build a more conscious, mature, fulfilling relationship.

Research indicates that premarital counseling can reduce the odds of divorce by 30%. An investment in counseling will start your committed relationship off on the right foot. Free Your Mind Counseling Services is an approved pre-marital counseling provider with the Sarasota County Clerk of Court and is a trained facilitator of the RELATE assessment. Working together I will help to guide you and your significant other into meaningful discussions about factors that are proven to effect marital satisfaction, identify trouble spots, work through challenges and concerns, and provide you with valuable insight into your relationship and a better understanding of each other.

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