When Is the Best Time to Seek Out Therapy or Counseling as a Couple?

As we journey through life, we encounter various challenges that can impact our mental and emotional well-being. These challenges can manifest in different ways for individuals and couples alike, often leaving them overwhelmed and unsure where to turn for help.

On average, couples who attend counseling engage in 12 sessions, and 66% of those relationships see improvement within 20 sessions or less. Seeking therapy or counseling as a couple can be a powerful tool to improve your relationship and gain valuable insights into yourself.

But when is the best time to seek out this type of support? Today, we will delve into this question and share insightful perspectives that may guide you in making the best decision for you and your partner.

What Happens at Couples Counseling?

Couples counseling is developed to assist couples to improve their communication and resolve conflicts. During couples counseling, you and your partner will meet with a therapist who will provide guidance and support as you work through the issues affecting your relationship.

The therapist will help you identify the patterns of behavior contributing to your problems and teach you new skills and strategies for communicating effectively, managing conflict, and building a stronger, more positive relationship.

Depending on your specific needs, the therapist may also provide individual counseling or refer you to other resources for additional support. Couples counseling aims to help you and your partner strengthen your relationship and develop the tools you need to overcome challenges and build a happy, healthy future together.

Success Ratio of Couples Therapy

Research consistently reveals the effectiveness of marriage and family therapy in treating a wide range of mental and emotional health problems. Marriage and family therapists have successfully addressed depression, adolescent drug abuse, obesity, dementia in the elderly, alcoholism, marital distress, and conflict.

According to a recent American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists study, partners recognize marriage and family therapists as the most recommended mental health professionals. Impressively, over 98% of clients are satisfied with the therapy services provided, reporting services as good or excellent.

Research also indicates that clients benefit significantly from therapy, as nearly 90% experience improved emotional health after treatment.

Additionally, parental reports show that therapy is an excellent aid in improving their child’s behavior in 73.7% of cases where a child is the identified patient.

Over 75% of patients getting marital/couples or family therapy report seeing improvement in their relationship, and the majority of patients report a significant increase in their ability to perform at work.

According to research, clients are pleased with the services provided by marital and family therapists. Clients report progress in work productivity, co-worker relationships, family relationships, partner relationships, emotional health, overall health, social life, and community involvement.

Also, research indicates that marriage and family therapy is an incredibly effective approach to coping with mental and emotional disorders, and it comes highly recommended by clients.

When Is the Perfect Time to See a Therapist?

When Is the Perfect Time to See a Therapist?

Couples who are insightful seek therapy long before they think it’s necessary. According to most experts, therapy can be vital in a relationship. Most problems between partners start small and get bigger when they still need to be resolved.

This is where therapy provides tools and techniques to improve conflict resolution. Couples who started treatment earlier say they should have done it years ago.

Psychotherapist Kimberly Resnick Anderson once said that every story has three sides:

  • His side
  • Her side, and
  • The truth.

When couples feel they can’t communicate effectively, an objective third party can be helpful. Instead of considering therapy a crisis solution, partners should view it as an integral part of a healthy life.

Even so, there are common scenarios and signs where therapy is crucial. Below are some instances to consider:

Persistent or Intense Emotional Distress

Suppose you’re experiencing persistent or intense sadness, anxiety, anger, or other emotions that interfere with your daily life. In that case, it may be time to seek therapy. These emotions can be caused by various factors, including relationship problems, traumatic events, or ongoing stressors such as work or financial difficulties.

Feeling Stuck

If you feel stuck in a particular situation or have been struggling with the same problem for a long time, therapy can help you gain a new perspective and provide you with tools to move forward.

Difficulty Coping with Life Transitions

Significant life changes, such as a job loss, a move, a divorce, or the death of a loved one, can be overwhelming and challenging to navigate. Therapy can provide a supportive and non-judgmental space to help you process these changes and develop coping strategies to manage stress.

Relationship Issues

If you’re struggling with relationship problems, whether with a romantic partner, family member, or friend, therapy can help. A therapist can provide a neutral perspective and offer guidance on communicating more effectively, setting boundaries, and working through conflicts.

Substance Abuse

If you’re struggling with substance abuse or addiction, therapy can be essential to your recovery. A therapist can help you understand the root causes of your substance abuse, develop coping strategies to manage triggers, and provide support and accountability throughout the recovery process.


Suppose you’ve experienced a traumatic event, such as physical or sexual assault, a natural disaster, or a severe accident. In that case, therapy can help you work through the associated emotions and develop coping mechanisms to manage any ongoing symptoms, such as anxiety or flashbacks.

Even if you don’t have a specific problem or issue, therapy can be a valuable tool for self-exploration and personal growth. You can gain a deeper understanding of yourself and your life goals by talking through your thoughts and feelings with a therapist.

Can Couples Therapy Make Things Worse?

Can Couples Therapy Make Things Worse?

At some point in a relationship, it’s normal to experience bumps in the road. You might argue more than you used to, feel less connected, or start feeling stuck. For some couples, these issues may be minor and resolved independently. However, for others, these problems can begin to think like deal breakers that threaten everything that was once meaningful to them.

Not all experiences in couples therapy are positive. It’s not uncommon for couples to break up after therapy, but that’s not always bad. Therapists are mindful of helping a couple decide whether to stay together.

Some people may remain in a relationship because of their children or simply because they are unsure of how to make a change. However, staying in an unhappy relationship can be more detrimental than ending it, making a separation successful.

There are times when some therapists lack the necessary skills in couples therapy or use a method that is unsuccessful and simply makes things worse for the couple.

On the other hand, sometimes, couples therapy can be challenging, forcing couples to have difficult conversations and be vulnerable in a way they’re not used to. Even though this process may be interpreted as “making things worse,” it can still be helpful and healing for them in the long run.

If you and your partner are struggling, consider couples therapy to work through your issues. While this is often a helpful step, it’s natural to worry about potential downsides. After all, what if seeing a therapist makes things worse instead of better?

It’s a valid concern, but the truth is that couples therapy is overwhelmingly effective in repairing relationships. However, that doesn’t mean it works 100% of the time or is always accessible. Couples may face some challenges when going through therapy, but that’s not necessarily bad. Sometimes, the bad has to come out before the good can be reclaimed.

Here are some potential ways that couples therapy could make things worse before they get better:

  • Opening old wounds: One of the goals of couples therapy is for both partners to be honest and authentic with each other. It’s not uncommon for past hurts or conflicts to come up during these discussions. This can be difficult and uncomfortable, but moving forward is often necessary.
  • Adding new conflicts: During therapy sessions, couples may talk about ongoing issues that they’ve been avoiding or that they didn’t even realize were issues. These discussions can bring up new conflicts that add to already-existing problems. 
  • Facing hard truths: Sometimes, couples might go into therapy with the hope that the therapist will be able to quickly and easily fix their problems. While some issues may be easier to solve than others, more often than not, couples have to confront the hard truth that change isn’t always easy and that it takes work.
  • Questioning the relationship: Couples may start to question whether or not they want to stay together as they go through therapy. Although this may seem like a step back, it can be a necessary process in figuring out whether or not the relationship is worth fighting for.


Ultimately, couples therapy can be a powerful tool for couples to communicate, identify problems, and work towards solutions. It’s important to remember that while therapy has the potential to make things worse in the short term, it’s often a necessary step in making things better in the long run.

Working with an experienced and qualified therapist can help ensure that couples therapy doesn’t make things worse than they already are. If couples therapy is right for you and your partner, take the first step and make an appointment with a licensed therapist today.

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