Individual or Couples Therapy: Which One is Right for You?
Ideally, both you and your partner should work together with a psychologist to address the challenges in your relationship. However, sometimes one partner may be reluctant or unwilling to go to counselling. Or maybe you prefer to seek help individually first.
In such cases, individual counselling may be an option for you. It does not mean that you are the only one with issues. Relationships are dynamic and complex, and when one person changes, the other person may respond differently as well. Therefore, individual counselling can still create positive change in your relationship by helping you to:
- Communicate your wants, needs, and frustrations more effectively
- Understand your partner’s feelings
- Cope with unpleasant emotions
- Resist the urge to criticise or otherwise behave cruelly toward your partner
Sometimes, individual counselling may be enough to resolve the issue in your relationship. Other times, it may lead to joint counselling later on. Either way, individual counselling can help you improve the quality of your relationship.
What Makes Couples Counselling Different from Individual Counselling?
Couples counselling is not just individual counselling with two people. It requires a different approach and a different set of skills from your psychologist. Not all individual counsellors are experienced in couples counselling. So how do you choose a good couples counsellor? Here are some things to consider.
Won’t ‘Take Sides’
In individual counselling, the therapist is on your side, even when they disagree with you. In couples counselling, the therapist is on neither side, but on the side of the relationship. The therapist should challenge both you and your partner’s behaviour, thoughts, and feelings, without blaming or judging anyone.
Unconditional Positive Regard Concept
In both couples and individual counselling, the therapist should listen to you without judgement or shaming you. This does not mean approving of everything you do. The therapist should accept and support you unconditionally, but also guide and correct you when necessary. This is especially important in couples counselling, where the therapist needs to gain more information about your behaviour and help you improve it.
How Couples Counselling Can Help You Resolve Conflicts Without Judgement
A good couples counsellor will not just let you talk about your feelings or fight without intervening. They will direct the therapy in a way that helps you make progress and have meaningful discussions. They will act as mediators between you and your partner, but with one crucial difference: they will not judge.
A good couples counsellor will not tell you that you are “wrong” or “evil,” but will help you see how your problematic behaviour affects your relationship, your partner, and yourself. They will encourage you to change your behaviour for the better, without shaming or blaming you.
However, this also means that you should not punish your partner for what they say in counselling. If you get angry or resentful about what happens in counselling, it will harm your relationship. You should bring this issue up with your counsellor if it happens.
People Psychology Melbourne CBD offers comprehensive counselling for couples at every stage of their relationship, from premarital counselling to counselling couples who have been together for decades. We can help you find a path to deep satisfaction in your relationships.
How to Make the Most of Couples Counselling
Couples counselling is a collaborative process between you, your counsellor, and your partner. It requires a lot of work and commitment from all parties. You will only get out of it what you put into it. Therefore, to make couples counselling a success, you should:
- Be honest in your sessions
- Follow the advice and tips from your counsellor
- Support your partner and avoid making them feel bad
- Have an open mind and a positive attitude
- Stick with it for the long term
Couples counselling can help you improve your relationship, but only if you are willing to work on it. We are here to help you along the way.
Suggestions on How To Improve Your Relationships
Here are some ideas to help you improve your relationships:
- Focus on the things that matter most. Don’t waste time and energy on trivial disputes that only hurt your partner.
- Be honest with your counsellor and with your partner. Don’t lie or hide anything that may affect your relationship.
- Allow your partner to speak their mind. Don’t get angry or aggressive because of what they say in the session. You can even give each other a “free pass” to say what you want without consequences.
- Tell your counsellor if you don’t like the way the therapy is going or if you think a certain strategy won’t work. They are there to help you, not to impose their views on you.
- Actively work to implement the strategies your counsellor suggests. Don’t just listen and forget. Apply what you learn to your relationship.
- Listen attentively and with an open mind. Don’t judge or criticise your partner for speaking up. Try to understand their point of view and feelings.
- Give some time for the therapy to work. Results may not be immediate, but they will come if you stick with it. Don’t quit after a few sessions.
- Commit to your partner. If you want to leave or if your partner is abusive, this therapy will not work. Only attend the session if you are truly ready.
Your relationship was once a source of love and beauty. Couples counselling can help you restore that love and beauty. But it takes both partners to work on themselves.
Other Relationships Matter as Well
Family relationships can also be challenging and often cause conflict and distress. Family therapy can help all family members communicate more effectively and make everyone feel heard and understood.
Finding the right psychologist or family therapist can take time, but it is worth the effort.