How to find the best couples counseling that will save your relationship and bring joy to your life
Your relationship feels shaky right now, and you’re considering therapy. But when you start researching therapists, they all use a different type of counseling with different methods and strategies. So how do you know which is the best couples counseling for you?
You need to find a professional who will understand how your relationship went from feeling warm and fuzzy to feeling like you’re standing alone in a cold, dark field.
Maybe you and your partner have felt distant for months. As a result, you’re together physically, but you still feel miserably alone.
Or you might be in constant conflict. The slightest action or comment sparks a sudden, irrational exchange of verbal fire.
In the past, your relationship might have been hurt by affairs and you’re terrified your partner will do it again. Now, either or both of you may feel ashamed that betrayal wormed its way into your lives, and afraid that the love might be gone.
With any of these feelings and situations, you might be afraid that divorce is the only next step for you—but that may not be the case. What they do indicate is that you may need couples therapy.
What is Couples Counseling?
Couples counseling is a special time and place for couples to come together and work through challenges with the guidance of a professional. In this venue, partners are able to speak and really say what they need to say. By the same token, they are able to listen and really hear what their partner is telling them.
The best couples counseling gives partners the tools they need to reconnect in a meaningful way and continue open communication moving forward.
Who Needs Couples Counseling?
Statistically, some couples are at greater risk for divorce than others (Stritof, 2020), but anyone can benefit from couples counseling as a way to strengthen their relationship and grow closer.
Most couples come to couples counseling when they’re experiencing conflict—and all couples go through some sort of conflict in their relationships.
Not only do couples run into conflicts in normal circumstances, the challenges and stressors of life in a pandemic add another layer of complication to mix. You may have lost some of your joint resiliency or encountered new, unanticipated problems that you’re struggling to reconcile.
Whether you’re not seeing eye to eye about something as routine as parenting or money, or something as shocking as infidelity or loss of a loved one, couples counseling can help.
Couples Counseling That Works
At the moment, you may be at a loss for how to find the best couples therapy to help you through this difficult time. How do you know which styles or which counselors can have a lasting effect on your relationship?
There is one type of counseling that consistently stands out above the rest. It’s been used for more than thirty years and rigorously studied for its effectiveness. It doesn’t matter what your background is, your age, or your life situation, this couples therapy provides lasting results (Stritof, 2020), and it’s called—
Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT).
The Effectiveness of EFT Couples Therapy
Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) was developed by Dr. Sue Johnson in the 1980s, and it has become the most-studied couples counseling method and has had the highest rates of success (Stritof, 2020).
According to the American Psychological Association, 75% of couples who use Emotionally Focused Therapy experience improvement in the quality of their relationships. This is a far greater number than those who have used other methods of couples counseling (Grande, 2017).
Dr. Johnson wrote the book Hold Me Tight (2008), in which she discusses the guiding principles of this treatment method. The idea is that each partner needs to feel safe in the relationship, and that safety comes from feeling emotionally close to the other person.
EFT uses a series of conversations to help couples regain the emotional bond they need to feel safe and loved.
Research on EFT:
EFT is an approach to couples therapy that works. A comparison of many studies showed that EFT was more effective than any other couples therapy to that point (Johnson, et al., 1999). Some studies also indicate that the improvements made during therapy continue to evolve in a positive way for years afterward.
These improvements with EFT include an increase in relationship satisfaction, greater connection, and as a result, even improved sex lives.
Effective with All Types of People and Relationships
Furthermore, EFT has been used successfully with young couples just starting out and older couples who have decades of history. Couples of all different sexual orientations find success with EFT, as do couples from all different racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds.
Effective for Different Relationship Issues
Couples experiencing a wide variety of relationship issues employ EFT to rejuvenate their relationships.
Infidelity, relationship injury (like feeling abandoned by your partner at a time of need), distancing, constant arguing, PTSD, depression, all of these are issues that couples have overcome together using EFT.
Additionally, couples experiencing infertility felt more satisfied with their relationships, more affectionate, and happier with their sex lives after 10 sessions of couples EFT counseling (Soleimani, et al., 2015).
Couples See Lasting Changes
Ultimately, the improvements you see in your relationship with EFT last. Researchers found that even after significant roadblocks in a relationship, couples who reconnect and find renewed satisfaction in their relationships still feel that way two years later (Weibe, et al., 2016).
All the Ways EFT Couples Therapy Can Help
EFT couples therapy can help you:
- Resolve conflicts in a mutually considerate way
- Reconnect with your partner and feel closer
- Spend more quality time with each other
- Rebuild trust so that you feel safe to express your deepest fears and concerns
- Help support each other when you are stressed or hurting
- Find ways to communicate your needs so that you can be heard
- Achieve greater intimacy and a better sex life
- Feel excited about your future together
Find Help Now
In short, if you think your marriage is in trouble, do not wait. Seek help as soon as possible. Plan to budget money and time for this treatment.
The longer you wait, the harder it will be to get your relationship back on track. Find professional couples counseling or attend a marriage course or weekend experience as soon as warning signs appear.
Even though you’re stuck in conflict now, if you still love each other and are both willing to come to therapy, you can break out of the negative place you’re in.
The best couples counseling for you is one that gives you all the tools you need to identify negative patterns so you can recognize them and avoid them in the future. It helps you reconnect with your partner in ways that make you feel seen and heard.
You can find love, affection, and happiness together again.
About Dr. Irena
Dr. Irena offers online therapy for women and couples in Texas and New York City. As a certified EFT therapist, she uses Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) to help distressed couples develop and maintain emotional connection and rekindle love and joy in their relationships. She has helped couples experiencing all varieties of challenges be available and responsive to each other, access their resiliency, and strengthen their relationships.
If you would like to schedule a session, email Dr. Irena for a free 10-minute video consultation: [email protected] or call (281)-267-1742.
Grande, D. (2017, Dec 06). Couples Therapy: Does It Really Work? Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/in-it-together/201712/couples-therapy-does-it-really-work
Johnson, S.M., Hunsley, J., Greenberg, L. and Schindler, D. (1999). Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy: Status and Challenges. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 6: 67-79. https://doi.org/10.1093/clipsy.6.1.67
Soleimani, A., Najafi, M., Ahmadi, K., Javidi, N., Hoseini Kamkar, E., Mahboubi, M. (2015). The Effectiveness of Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy on Sexual Satisfaction and Marital Adjustment of Infertile Couples with Marital Conflicts. International Journal of Fertility and Sterility, 9(3), 393-402. doi: 10.22074/ijfs.2015.4556
Stritof, S. (2020, Feb 05). When Your Marriage Needs Counseling. Very Well Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/does-marriage-counseling-work-2300428
Wiebe, Stephanie & Johnson, Susan & Lafontaine, Marie-France & Moser, Melissa & Dalgleish, Tracy & Tasca, Giorgio. (2016). Two-Year Follow-up Outcomes in Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy: An Investigation of Relationship Satisfaction and Attachment Trajectories. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy. 43. 10.1111/jmft.12206.