Common Myths About Couples Counseling
Have you ever watched the show Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction? It’s a show that originally aired in the 90’s and it features short stories of things that may or may not have happened, and the viewer is to decide if they believe each story was fact or fiction. At the end of the show, the host reveals whether these stories were true or based on myths that have gone around for years.
As humans, we tend to believe stories people tell us because in some way they cater to our fears, curiosities, or hopes. Some myths are fun, some can stop us from growth. Like in the case of Tina and Tom.
Tina and Tom have been bickering a lot lately. They both know this is out of character, since they usually have a great friendship and have a lot of fun together. However, they both have gone through some recent transitions (move, change of jobs, and a recent loss in the family) and they’re finding themselves easily irritated with each other. They’d like to seek help, but since neither have ever been in therapy (nor anyone in their families, because of myths regarding therapy), they have a lot of fears about seeking couples counseling. Tom, not being much of a talker or the type to be attuned to his feelings, is afraid he’s going to be expected to disclose all his darkest hours and be seen as “sick.” Tina secretly believes that the therapist will help her make Tom see the error of his ways and change the bad habits she’s been secretly resenting for years. But, she also fears that Tom may have the same intentions–to “fix” her–or even worse, that the therapist will tell them their relationship is doomed to fail. So, they stay stuck and bickering out of fear of the unknown and abandonment.
But, these are common misconceptions. Below are the facts behind the fictional stories we’ve heard about couples counseling.
Fiction about Couples Counseling:
- The therapist will judge who’s right and who’s wrong
- The therapist will “fix” the wrong/”sick” one
- The therapist will tell you if you should break up/get divorced
Facts about Couples Counseling:
- Therapy is a safe and supportive place, not a courtroom. It’s a safe place to explore, share, and grow with the help of an empathetic, trained professional that will assist both of you clarify your relationship goals and achieve them together, with trust, commitment, and acceptance of each other’s unique differences.
- Therapy is a process, not a quick fix. It is an interpersonal healing process that helps couples identify and target the vicious cycle, instead of making each other the enemy. Marriage and family therapists do not see the problem as lying in one individual, but in context.
- Therapists respect client’s autonomy in decision making. It is one of our professional ethical obligations.
If you’ve been considering seeking help, and one of the myths above have stopped you, please reconsider. It certainly takes courage to take the first step. With the help of a trained, ethical, and empathetic therapist the risk is worth taking, and your courage will lead you to feeling more connected, inspired, and empowered in your relationships. It is totally normal to “date” a few therapists before finding the right one. We’re all human, with our own unique strengths, specialties, and talents. The right therapist for your present situation is out there. Just take that step of courage and don’t let fiction stop you!
Not everyone is ready for couples counseling. In cases where there’s domestic violence, severe substance abuse/addictions, or severe trauma leading to abusive cycles, a good therapist will recommend individual therapy to avoid doing more harm.
Need to get started on your journey to a better relationship? Couples Counseling can help!