If there is one thing people can agree on it’s that relationships can be complicated. This is especially true when two people have committed to an intimate, exclusive relationship. As initial excitement fades, the work of relating and living together begins along with the inevitable rough spots that go along with it. Birth of a first child, launching of adult children, financial stress, unemployment, underemployment, or extended family problems can trigger arguing, loss of tenderness and affection, loneliness within the relationship, and a sense of helplessness. These are usually the experiences that bring a couple to counseling.
Couple counseling can address these problems and the communication difficulties that often play a part in unsettling the relationship. It can also assist the couple in discovering and changing unhelpful learned patterns of relating that can be at the foundation of the difficulties.
Entering couple counseling can also lead to the discovery of and treatment for depression or other conditions in one or both of the couple. Relationship problems and mental illness are often found together.
Insurance companies that reimburse for couple counseling do so only when it is part of an individual’s treatment for a diagnosed mental condition. This means one member of the couple will have an individual treatment plan and be attending individual as well as couple counseling. Since this may be uncomfortable or even detrimental for some couples it is discussed during the first meeting. Each situation is unique and finding a mutually agreed upon way to proceed is usually not a problem.
Here couple counseling is approached from a strengths perspective. It is assumed that each person brings to the relationship personality traits and skills that in most cases can be used to resolve difficulties and strengthen the union. Rather than analyzing what is creating misery couples are encouraged to look at different possibilities and paths to healing.