There are many things that go into creating a healthy marriage; love, trust, commitment and communication to start. But what happens when things get dull or distant?

The tool of individual therapy in a marriage allows for a deeper understanding to form about each partner’s perspective on the relationship, and how their own mental health plays a role. It can also help to address old issues that just can’t seem to get solved and to build a more robust narrative for your counselor by giving them the details of your individual perspective, judgment free. Many times when partners have been together for a long time, their conflicts are usually not about new topics, but rather from something one or both parties continue to push away instead of address. In a survey conducted by MidAmerica Nazarene University, an average of 49% of married couples participate in marriage counseling at some point in their lives.

While marriage counseling can seem daunting at first, it is definitely something worth discussing with a partner if you feel you’re not able to overcome obstacles without some extra help. This turning point in your marriage can be a major opportunity for growth both personally and in your relationship. It also allows you to peel back the layers of where issues began, getting to the root of the problem instead of only addressing the current ones. Individual counseling is especially recommended for couples who may have one partner that is more hesitant about couples therapy. Having that one-on-one before entering the session as a couple can help you feel more empowered about your mental health, as addressing individual problems always comes before addressing the issues in a relationship.

Several popular methods that counselors often use for couples counseling are Cognitive Behavioral therapy, The Gottman Method, Emotionally Focused therapy (EFT), Positive psychology therapy and Solution-focused therapy (SFT). Each of these methodologies have their own benefits and structure, but the one that Constantly Healthy utilizes the most is the Gottman Method. This method is based on building intimacy, respect and affection by reducing what Gottman dubbed as the four horsemen of the apocalypse for a relationship; criticism, defensiveness, contempt and stonewalling.

Every marriage may approach couples counseling in a different way; some may have more individual sessions than couples, some may have an even split, and some may finish their therapy journey faster than others. It is all dependent on your specific relationship and how you both show up emotionally, both in and out of therapy sessions. One major misconception is that a relationship has to be on the brink of ending for counseling to be considered, when in reality many couples seek help to learn how to communicate better or how to address difficult topics; such as disagreements about finances, family-planning or major life transitions.

Couples wait an average of 6 years of being unhappy in their relationship before getting help

Once you are able to process your mental health issues and negative behavior patterns individually, it can leave you with valuable tools to help move forward in your marriage as your best self.

This article was contributed by Rollins Clinical Psychology student, Shannon Caicedo

Benefits of Individual Counseling to a Marriage:

➔ Boosting self-esteem

➔ Getting to the root of the issue

➔ Discovering how individual negative patterns interact in the relationship

➔ Creating a support system for yourself while simultaneously addressing relationship issues

➔ Having a safe-space to share your perspective

➔ Having an impartial third party to listen

➔ Receiving tools for the future to use beyond therapy

  1. Schofield, M. J., Mumford, N., Jurkovic, D., Jurkovic, I., & Bickerdike, A. (2012). Short and long-term effectiveness of couple counseling: a study protocol. BMC public health, 12, 735.

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