Couples Counseling | Types of Therapy | Zencare — Zencare

Couples Counseling

Couples therapy is always a reasonable choice for couples who find themselves wanting to improve the status of their relationship. Often times, couples counseling is something people with urgent needs undergo. However, a lot of patients actually find that couples therapy is helpful at addressing ongoing issues and sustains the happiness and completeness of an already healthy relationship by teaching you and your partner how to communicate, accept any differences, solve problems your relationship is currently facing, and find common interests.

Couples counseling is for any couple – married, non-married, monogamous, polyamorous, or even an individual working on a partnered relationship. This form of therapy can be helpful for relationships of any kind – whether you're in a long-term relationship, long-distance, an open relationship (or considering entering one), or all and none of the above. And you don’t need to be married (or monogamous) to seek couples counseling.

A good couples counselor should be able to help move the relationship forward by giving couples a safe and open space to talk and tackle problems that they may be reluctant to address. The exact focus of your treatment will depend on the particulars of your relationship, and your therapist’s approach. Understanding the basics of your relationship and comparing that to information about a therapist is a great basis for finding the right couples therapist for you.


What Couples Counseling Can Help With

Here are a few areas that couples counseling can help you with:

What to Expect When Starting Couples Therapy

The first session will provide you with a glimpse of whether or not the therapist is right for you and your partner. However, it’s best not to immediately conclude that your chosen therapist can’t solve your problems during your first session.

Any therapy session, including couples therapy, usually takes three to four sessions to build rapport as well as allow the therapist to have an assessment on how they can help.

While the exact structure of your treatment will depend on your specific needs and your therapists' approach, here is the general structure of what you can expect from couples counseling:

Related: How to Prepare for Couples Counseling: 7 Ways to Get Ready for Your First Session

Know Which Type of Couples Counseling Suits Your Relationship

Keep in mind that couples counseling has two basic variations. The variation will depend on the problem you want to work on and the kind of therapist you choose. Here’s a quick look at the types of couples counseling.


An open-ended couples counseling, which is the usual type that couples need, emphasizes open discussions and processing of emotions. To do so, a couple’s counselor may utilize activities that are designed to guide you and your partner towards building skills together and understanding the current state of your relationship.


Structure-oriented counseling involves a therapist observing how you and your partner interact during every session. This observation is needed so the expert can provide some advice concerning what strategies your relationship should implement so you can eliminate the root of the problem.

Search for a Therapist with Expertise in Couples Therapy

Just because an expert is a therapist, it does not mean that they are well-versed in couples therapy. Hence, only opt for a therapist that has specific training and supervision in different couples therapy approaches.

Look for Referrals

One of the most convenient ways to find the best couples therapist is through referrals. Fortunately, there are three great ways to find a couple’s therapist via this method: EAP, online directories, and asking friends, family members, or a trusted professional.

Use Employer’s Employee Assistance Program for Referrals

Employers in many areas of the country usually offer Employee Assistance Program (EAP) services for their employees. An EAP often provides in-person or over-the-phone short-term counseling, which is free of charge.

By using your EAP, you can inquire or have access to therapists in various areas of expertise. The therapist can even refer you to a professional that may be best suited to handle your relationship problem.

Utilize Directories

An online directory that is centered around couples therapy has a convenient counselor-search feature. Most, if not all, platforms may even include the therapist’s specialties and qualifications. Try using the following online directories:

Ask Close Friends, Family Members, and Colleagues

If you know someone who has personally undergone couples therapy, then they can be a reliable source of information about a therapist, specifically how their relationship improved due to the therapist’s intervention.

Also, if you know someone who is in the medical field, like a nurse or primary care physician, ask them if they know a reliable couples therapist.

Review the Therapist

If you already have some prospects, make sure to give some time to read and review a therapist’s biography, training attended, years of service in the field of therapy, and approach. If any piece of essential information is not displayed, you can always ask the following questions so you can gauge if the therapist is right for your relationship:

Related: 6 Steps To Finding The Best Couples Counselor Near You

Furthermore, even if a therapist’s qualifications are displayed, it is still part of your due diligence to ask questions. This is even more important if the therapist you have in mind is not a direct referral or has any web presence.

Also, you can even ask about the therapist’s relationship status. Doing so may allow you to feel more comfortable sharing any problems in your relationship.

Learn About Their Approach

The therapeutic approach refers to the method or professional training the couples therapist uses when addressing problems or providing counsel. There are tons of approaches, and it is important for you to understand each one before pushing on with your choice. Ideally, you should look through each approach first and try to figure out which one would work best for your relationship. From there, you can narrow down the search for a therapist who uses these counseling methods: ·

Your couples counselor may specialize in one particular approach, or they may integrate several different modalities into treatment. Be sure to ask the therapist about their preferred approach to couples counseling. Ask them why this is their chosen method and have them explain how this works in relation to your situation.

Regardless of methodology, the aim of couples counseling is to provide a safe, non-judgmental space for you and your partner to reconnect and tackle whatever issues or concerns you're facing in your relationship

Additional Certifications

Ideally, your therapist should be certified by the American Association of Sexuality, Educators, Counselors, and Therapists. Certification under this association makes your counselor a sex therapist and should help with the sexual side of the relationship. While this is not mandatory, you will find that their added knowledge as a sex therapist can greatly help in issues involving physical contact.

Set an Ideal Payment Method and Schedule

Since a couple’s therapy isn’t cheap, make sure that you and your partner have already discussed and set a general budget. Additionally, make sure that both of you are on the same page when it comes to the time, style, and goals of therapy.

Moreover, before you schedule your first couples therapy session, call your insurance provider to see if they’ll cover the cost. If your insurance doesn’t cover a couple’s therapy session, then ask the therapist if they’re willing to provide their services to you on a sliding scale.

Effectiveness and Duration of couples counseling

Research shows couples counseling is highly effective at improving relationships and emotional health.

Studies show that counseling can be an effective treatment on both an individual and a shared level for couples who are facing issues in their relationships:

As with any therapy, the number of sessions you have with a couples counselor can vary; but generally speaking, couples counseling tends to be shorter-term than individual counseling.

Depending on your goals and challenge, you might see a counselor for only a few sessions, or you might continue for several weeks or months; the average number of sessions with a marriage and family therapist typically 12. [3]

New to therapy? Learn about how to find a therapist here.


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