Relationship Therapy: Should you go together or individually?
When you have difficulties in a relationship, how do you decide whether to see a couples therapist or an individual therapist?
This can be a difficult question, because at first even addressing the fact there is a problem is difficult in itself, but it can also be hard to determine who’s problems belong to whom and how these affect a relationship. It can be confusing to understand whether you have chosen the wrong person, or whether you’re struggling to deal with unresolved issues that need revisiting.
Couples counselling vs. individual counselling
“Couples counselling isn’t complex. Essentially, it’s a specialised kind of talking therapy where two people sit down with a counsellor to talk about the way they are relating.”
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In simplistic terms, couples counselling focuses on the relationship between the couple primarily, and the couple’s communication. On the other hand, individual therapy focuses on the individual and what has shaped them as a person, what they bring to the relationship in terms of old hurts, fears, and anxieties.
It’s very easy to blame the other person for a relationship breakdown, but much harder to look honestly at yourself, your actions and consequences. In reality, actions and experiences are never as absolute as placing blame indefinitely on one person. It is generally actions from both parties, to some degree. However, it’s important to remember that we can only change ourselves and we must want to change.
I believe that when we get into a relationship, that is the time that we really get to confront ourselves through a deeper, analytical process. Somehow the challenge of being in a relationship can resurface past issues that we haven’t dealt with and moved past. Once we are in a relationship, unconsciously it feels safer to start looking for the other person to meet our unmet needs rather than dealing with why we want those needs and what has prevented them from being met.
While your partner may help you feel more secure, they cannot always help you address old insecurities from the past. By facing these old difficulties and working through them with a therapist you can feel freer from the past and able to move forward in a healthy and happy relationship.
When insecurities or previous episodes manifest in the present relationship, it would be helpful to seek professional help, perhaps beginning therapy individually and bringing your partner to future sessions if you and your therapist agree.
Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.
About Teresa Mulvena
Teresa Mulvena is a senior accredited therapist with extensive experience working with couples and individuals with relationship issues. If you feel anxious about whether counselling can be useful or not, come to one session with no ongoing commitment and you will get a sense of whether it is going to be helpful.