Couples counselling: preventative therapy rather a last resort
We take a look at couples therapy as a preventative measure rather than a last resort.
Many of the couples seen in therapy admit to experiencing reservations before attending a session. It’s common that one party has instigated the idea and persisted to start couples therapy. This often leaves the other party feeling pressured with no choice but to attend therapy sessions.
Thankfully the stigma to attend individual therapy sessions is far less than years gone by, so why isn’t it ‘normal’ for couples experiencing difficulties to seek help with their relationship?
Not only is couples therapy not the norm, but there are other relationships missing from the therapy room: couples that haven’t committed to one another yet or have been in a relationship for a shorter period of time. It’s a common assumption that couples therapy is a service for long term relationships only.
Not for actress Kristen Bell though, who says she has 'done a lot of work' on her relationship with her husband Dax Shepard. “We’ve made a choice to love each other but realise relationships are a lot of work, I think it’s responsible to be honest about that. It’s hard work, working out the kinks of learning how to argue because we disagree on almost every topic on the planet. We earned our relationship, which we’re very proud of.”
Kristen and Dax Shepard chose to have therapy early in their relationship. Last year he told Good Housekeeping magazine that when they met, “there were hurdles; things she didn’t trust about me, things I didn’t trust about her. I just kept going back to ‘this person has the thing I want, and I have to figure out how we can exist peacefully’ so we started seeing a therapist together right away.”
Kristen says therapy gave her 'a much bigger toolbox' for when her and Dax had disagreements, explaining, “you do better in the gym with a trainer, you don’t figure out how to cook without reading a recipe. Therapy is not something to be embarrassed about.”
This is a refreshing insight into the world of couples therapy: more and more people are attending individual therapy sessions in Britain and we’d hope to see this reflected in the early stages of relationships, as a preventative therapy. Preventative therapy doesn’t wait for deep-rooted issues to surface, it can help make sure issues don’t have time to grow roots.
In 2017, Marina and husband Ben Fogle described having ‘marriage MOTs’. They began therapy by talking about their challenges and differences. Fogle says, “we see doctors, hygienists, opticians and mechanics before there are problems, and I’d argue our emotional well-being is significantly more important than our cars, eyes or teeth. If you can learn how to be strong while the going is easy, you will be better equipped for the more challenging terrain when it comes.”
Deciding to have couples counselling, preventative therapy or a marriage MOT (however you wish to describe the process) seems a wise investment in our future relationships. If you wish to speak to a therapist you can search locally via our easy tool.