Couples Therapy Can Build or Rescue

When your intimate relationship faces conflicts or problems that are beyond your coping ability, couples therapy is an exceptional way to talk with your partner in a safe and supportive environment. Despite the idealized fantasy that couples who are “meant to be” wouldn’t need couples therapy, long-term committed relationships naturally stretch people’s emotional capacity, often to the brink.

Karen L. Smith, MSS, LCSW, and the team of therapists at Full Living: A Psychotherapy Practice offer their experience helping couples and those in polyamorous relationships in an array of therapeutic styles, while providing culturally competent clinical services. If you need help in your relationship(s) and would like to schedule an appointment, email or call the office in Center City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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When might I need couples therapy or relationship counseling?

Everyone who shares their life with another person may need counseling at some point in their journey together. You may develop disagreements that you can’t resolve, or want to find ways to strengthen your emotional bond. The intimate space of the partner relationship is where our deepest and most core issues get activated. The partner relationship is one of our best vehicles for profound healing, but it can easily get derailed into an arena of mutual injury.

It’s absolutely never too soon to use couples therapy to help develop a strong, mutually supportive partnership. Most couples start to think about counseling when conflict arises, or problems develop such as:

  • Communication difficulties
  • Financial disagreements
  • Parenting conflicts
  • Division of household labor
  • Infidelity
  • Sexual dissatisfaction
  • Power struggles
  • Substance abuse
  • Anger or aggression issues

Couples enter therapy at very different stages in their partnerships. Sometimes engaged couples benefit from counseling before they get married, so they can openly talk about their values, differences of opinion, and expectations in a supportive environment. Some couples find they need help navigating major life changes, loss, illness or specific mental health struggles in the couple, family or extended family/community. Some couples come in to improve their relationships, and some come in times of high crisis or after losing hope, to see if they want to save or dissolve their partnership.

Clients in open or polyamorous relationships can need help in coming up with mutually satisfying boundaries and need a place to sort through natural feelings of jealousy or insecurities that may surface. You may also need help navigating conversations with family and friends about the structure of your families.

What should I expect during couples therapy or marriage counseling?

There isn’t a set formula for psychotherapy. Perhaps the most important thing that will happen for the couple in therapy is that they will be helped to truly be heard and to hear the other. Over time, each partner will become clearer on their needs and whether those can be met in the relationship. The therapist is not invested in helping to save or end the relationship, but rather in helping each of you figure out what you want.

For many clients, therapy is a vehicle for remembering what originally brought you into a committed relationship, reimagining what kind of marriage you want to be in, and creating a new partnership with each other.

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