Saturday, March 13, 2010
Couples Therapy: The Ultimate Myth
Recently I was on a plane and had a conversation with the woman beside me whose interest was piqued when she heard that I was a clinical psychologist. She continued to tell me about a best friend who recently began couples therapy, and stated that she was certain that couples therapy was “the beginning of the end” for this couple.
Simply put, this statement marks a myth - perhaps the greatest - about couples therapy. The sad truth is that this myth is the very obstacle that keeps so many struggling couples from getting help. My stance on couples therapy never waivers: regardless of whether you break up or stay together, couples therapy will improve your relationship.
But wait – I can hear shouts from cyberspace. “How can you have an improved relationship if you’ve broken up?” you might ask. The reality is that we are often inclined to view relationships in black and white because accepting the complexities can be more difficult and uncomfortable. However, breaking up is not the end of the world. In fact, if you focus on understanding your partner better, perhaps when you break up, you can take a friendship with you.
If you are in a relationship, don’t fret that couples therapy is a sign that you’re turning down the wrong road. I always say that, in a long-term relationship, there may be a few different periods where you go in for a relationship tune-up. If you’re still not convinced, start asking around whether people you know have ever tried couples therapy. I guarantee you that there are a few success stories that will surprise you!
Ultimately, if couples therapy really helps, you’ll probably stay together. If it only helps to remind you of your differences and to shine a light on the fact that you’re not the best match for each other, perhaps you can end the relationship less bitterly and can, perhaps, salvage the remnants of the friendship that hopefully lies at the base of your romantic relationship.