Counseling, in general, has its own naysayers and critics; that is just part of being in the mental health field. Couples Counseling has its very own set of stereotypes, or myths that creep in, some from movies or other media, others from friends and family. Most stick in the minds of people, keeping them from seeking the assistance they may need to move their relationship in a positive and rewarding direction.
What are these stereotypes? Here is a quick look at seven of the most common myths and what the real truth is. You decide which ones you may have been leaning toward.
Myth #1: A Stranger Cannot Help My Relationship.
Therapists often laugh at the misconception that someone who has not known you for your entire life cannot possibly help. When the opposite is more probable in most cases. A therapist has no personal investment in lying to you or trying to get you to do something that is not in your best interest. Our closest friends and family often have something to gain or lose when giving us advice. Therapists provide an objective look at our relationship, as long as both parties are forthcoming.
Myth #2: The Therapist Will Take My Partner’s Side.
Will a therapist provide support to a partner when they are confronting an issue during therapy? Of course! However, they will do the same for either partner. Supporting someone who needs it does not mean the therapist is taking sides or choosing one partner over the other. Couples therapist usually have a fundamental belief in protecting the relationship if it is what is in the couple’s best interest. Taking one side will only serve to further alienate one of the individuals, a direct conflict of their goals.
Myth #3: Therapy Takes Forever.
While some individuals may be in therapy for some time. Couples therapy is usually a short term process. The primary focus of most couples therapy is to learn tools for the couple to use to grow and build their relationship. Most couples therapy plans average 6-12 sessions total, depending on the specific reasons for seeking therapy and each party’s involvement.
It is not uncommon for one or both parties to seek individual therapy after couples’ therapy has ceased. In many cases, the couple’s therapy may suggest a follow-up visit after some time, just to check in and evaluate things, but long-term couples therapy is the exception rather than the rule.
Myth #4: Therapy Is Only For The Weak.
False! The reality is - it takes a strong person to reach out for help when they need it. Couples therapy does not mean that the relationship is doomed or broken. A surprising number of couples seek therapy for issues that have little or nothing to do with ending the relationship.
Myth #5: I Can’t Afford Therapy.
Therapy of any kind could be viewed as an investment. Think of all the things we spend money on (especially when we are unhappy). Shouldn’t a happy, healthy relationship be one of them? When couples tell us that they spend many thousands on a marriage ceremony and many couples know how much a divorce costs; you might think of therapy as an investment rather than a cost!
Myth #6: The Therapist Will See All Of My Faults.
Therapists are people, not mind readers. They may be able to pick up on movements or intuit when you are not being forthcoming or notice when you are nervous, but they will not know the reason behind it unless you tell them. Therapists are trained to pick up on non-verbal cues, but they are also trained not to interpret them as having any significant meaning unless supported by other factual information. So, a therapist is really only able to see what you allow them to see.
Myth #7: Therapy Can Fix My Relationship.
Therapy is only a tool. Therapy cannot fix a relationship any more than a screwdriver can tighten a screw without your help. Therapy can provide people with valuable tools and information, but each individual must put those to use. All too often people walk into a therapist’s office expecting a quick fix to their problems, instead of being open to learning how to fix their problems themselves.
Lori Hunter, LMFT specializes in working with families, co-parenting and those high conflict couples struggling with relationships. She helps couples build intimacy, teaching effective emotional processing techniques that directly improve thoughts and behaviors.