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What is bad couples therapy?

What is bad couples therapy?

Couples counseling is a highly specialized field. A therapist can be an outstanding individual therapist or
child therapist but lack skill to provide good couples therapy. A good couples therapist needs to manage
the mental health of two people while balancing the needs of two equal adults. In individual therapy,
the therapist has the luxury of being on their client’s side. In family therapy, the therapist is trying to
sustain a healthy imbalance of authority. In couples counseling, the therapist needs to be on the side
of each person and the couple simultaneously
. And they need to see a pathway to get the couple out
of whatever mess they find themselves in. The therapist has to know how to untangle relationship
knots. Lastly, a couples therapist is often the source of hope for the couple.

What is bad couples therapy?
Here are some of the things to pay attention to.

  1. The therapist needs to believe in marriage. This sounds like a no-brainer, but many therapists would like to help every couple, but if they can’t, they are OK with helping a couple split up. In fact, many couples therapists believe that couples come to therapy too late, so they don’t believe they can help most of the couples they see. They see their role as helping the couple break up in a healthy way.
  2. The therapist needs to be able to control the therapy room. On TV, a couple enters the therapy room and spends the hour blaming and raging against one another. It is excruciating to watch and worse to live. Each person leaves feeling beat up and exhausted. If you leave therapy and have a sense that you or your partner won or lost this round, or worse, the therapist was on your side, then you are in bad couples therapy.
  3. The therapist needs tools and a process. If your therapist regularly says things like “How do you feel about that?” or “What do you think about what your partner said?” then you are probably in bad couples counseling. Or if the therapist is mostly having conversations with each of you, then they are probably doing individual therapy that each partner observes. Good couples therapy teaches and coaches you how to interact with one another, not with the therapist.
  4. It is the therapist’s job to instill hope. Having trouble in your marriage can be one of the scariest problems in life. Most people to feel hopeless at some point. The therapist has to be able to see through the problems and find the love and connection that has gotten buried. They have to be able to put that hope into words and reassure each partner that they can have their deepest desire. And then help them create that.

Of course, there are a variety of ways of doing couples therapist. You are looking for the therapist who can speak to both of you, inspire you, challenge you, and help you make changes. But, if any of the
above exists, and things are not getting better within a couple of months (improved, not necessarily fixed), then think seriously about exploring other options.

{Call to action} If you would like to learn more about how couples therapy can help you, schedule a free phone consultation here.