Couples therapy and marriage counselling form a specialized subset of relationship counselling. In general, you'll be engaging an impartial expert in helping you and your partner to recognize, manage, and reconcile issues that are causing stress or disconnection in your relationship.
While looking at where you came from can be useful in gaining insight into yourself and your partner, couples therapy is largely focused on the here-and-now. We'll help you identify what led to the problems you're having (so history doesn't repeat itself), ensure both of you are fully heard and understood, introduce new methods for coping and communicating, and be your support through the process of deciding what to do, and doing it.
Why do maintenance and repairs on your car or home? Why see a doctor, or dentist?
Because it matters.
You and your partner chose each other for a reason. Whatever's standing in your way right now probably has some strong emotions wrapped around it, which can make objectivity downright impossible. You're here because you want things to be better. Helping you find and navigate the path to that outcome - whatever it looks like for you - is what we do.
Problems within close personal relationships are often the result of communication misses, disconnection, maladaptive coping methods, outside stressors, avoidance, depression, or other ingrained patterns of thought and/or behaviour that you may not necessarily be aware of.
Couples counselling will help you gain a better understanding of your partner and yourself. This deeper understanding will enable you to decide whether you want to make changes to repair or improve your relationship, and if so, counselling will help you decide what to change, how to change it, and guide you through the process of actually following through.
The couples counsellors at ALCG are professionally trained, certified, experienced and objective experts on guiding couples through this process. We won't blindly tell you what to do, take sides, or dole out useless platitudes. Every couple is unique, just like every individual, so your process and eventual course of action will be unique to you and your situation.
Your first session is typically an opportunity for your therapist to get to know you, to learn about the challenges you're facing and how you each see them, and to discuss your goals and any major obstacles. Remember we're not here to take sides, so try not to be nervous. You're doing this for you, so the more honest and open you can be, the more you'll get out of it.
We offer two models of couples therapy, so what it looks like for you will differ slightly depending on your choice.
If you choose traditional couples counselling, you would attend most of your sessions together as a couple. Sometimes, individual sessions are included in the process if there are issues you or your partner need private support with prior to discussing as a couple. The therapist is there to support each of you, but ultimately, our focus is the health of the relationship itself.
If you choose co-therapy, you and your partner would each have your own individual therapist. You would attend sessions both by yourselves, then with all four of you together on an alternating schedule. This is a unique service we provide, and there are distinct benefits to the combination of private individual and shared joint support. Clients who may prefer this modality include those who have difficulty with trust or concerns about being treated equally, couples who have differing gender preferences, or in general couples with more complex challenges. Click here to read more in depth about co-therapy.
Couples see us for a wide variety of reasons, often boiling down to maladaptive patterns of thinking or behaving, disconnection, and poor communication.
Some examples include frequent arguing, loneliness, a lack of intimacy, sexual issues, unfulfilled emotional/physical needs, and affairs/infidelity. Couples may also be facing external stressors, separations, conflicts about family members, or physical/mental illess. Still others come to us with issues specific to blending their families, like solidifying new parenting structures, difficulties with ex partners, and challenges around finances, logistics and lifestyles.
All couples, of course, are susceptible to any number of these and other concerns. It's not a matter of something being "wrong" with you or your partner; these issues are more common than you might think.
Finally, you don't need to be in crisis to benefit from therapy. Some of the couples we see just want to strengthen their connection, revive an old spark, improve intimacy and communication, navigate co-parenting, or gain a deeper understanding of each other before getting married.
Whatever the reason, couples who seek therapy have recognized something in their relationship they want to be better, and have decided to be proactive about making it happen.