Thinking About Relationship Therapy? Here's Everything You Need to Know

What is relationship therapy?

Relationship therapy is therapy designed for couples to help them navigate and resolve problems as a team. Relationship therapy can help you and your partner maintain your romantic connection by solving interpersonal conflicts big and small. While some couples may see a relationship therapist in a preventative nature, to keep their relationship on track, most couples see a relationship therapist when things have gone awry. Relationship therapists can help couples navigate difficult relationship situations like communication problems, conflict management problems, problems related to finances and ifidelity to name a few.

Relationship therapy is becoming more and more common these days as couples realize that they really can’t handle their relationship problems all by themselves. Realizing this is an important first step, and it’s important to know that it doesn't mean that you are admitting defeat in any way! It can be very difficult to navigate the peaks and valleys of a relationship, in addition to problems that are unique to romantic relationships. Turning to a couples therapist that has the training to help you navigate these things is often the best thing you can do to improve or even save your relationship. Relationship therapy is about providing you and your partner with the skills to navigate current and future problems in effective and kind ways, so that your relationship stays strong and lasts the test of time.

Relationship Therapy vs. Individual Therapy

It’s important to draw a distinction between the types of problems that require relationship therapy and the types of problems that require individual therapy. It’s true that if one person in the partnership is experiencing difficulties that it will likely bleed into the relationship and affect your romantic connection. If this is the case, it’s important to recognize the origin of the problems and work to address them. In a lot of cases it’s totally unnecessary for both you and your partner to go to a couple’s therapist. If the problems are originating from just one of you, that person should try individual therapy to work on addressing these issues by themselves. This is not an excuse to blame your problems on one person, it’s just important to note that not all relationship problems are because of the relationship.

If you and your partner are serious about addressing your problems, it’s important to have candid conversations about where the problems are originating, and whether both you and your partner are equally contributing to the problems. This might seem kind of abstract, so here’s an example: let’s say that your partner has unresolved anger issues, which are causing conflicts in your relationship to escalate rather than get resolved. If this is the case, it would not be helpful for you to go to couples therapy to learn about conflict management, because your partner will still have anger management problems that will escalate the situation. Couples therapy could be a good next step, but first and foremost your partner needs to learn how to address their anger. Identifying the root of your relationship problems will help you identify the best route of therapy to pursue to create a healthier and happier relationship. Individual therapy can always work in tangent with relationship therapy, but note that the two are not interchangeable.

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Types of relationship therapy

If you and your partner decide that relationship therapy is right for you, it’s important to know that relationship therapy comes in many forms nowadays. When people think of therapy, they most often think of in-person therapy, where you meet with a therapist on a regular basis to diagnose and address specific issues in your relationship so that you can find solutions as a team and move forward. Even within the umbrella of in-person relationship therapy, there are a lot of different approaches that you can take. The Gottman Method for example is a research-based method that incorporates individual and couples therapy sessions to identify the problems in your relationship and help you move towards creating a shared life experience. Besides the Gottman Method, there are many other forms of in-person relationship therapy that are effective. These traditional types of therapy can be an excellent resource for any couple that’s going through a rough patch, but it is not the only form of relationship therapy on the market.

In addition to in-person, individualized couples therapy, there are plenty of couples workshops and retreats on the market that can help you and your partner navigate your relationship in a group setting. These workshops embrace group dynamics to help you and your partner troubleshoot your problems with the help from peers that are often in very similar situations. There are also many relationship therapy resources online and in app form that can take the place of traditional therapy for many couples. Tons of relationship therapy apps and relationship coaching apps exist to help couples through their problems in a less conventional, more convenient atmosphere.

Apps like Relish can put you and your partner in touch with a relationship coach to help you establish and work towards your couple goals. If you’re interested in an interactive platform, but don’t necessarily want a personal relationship coach, you and your partner can always turn to online forums to discuss your problems with other people that are experiencing similar things. There are even quizzes that you can take online to help you learn more about your relationship and troubleshoot any problems that you have.

In addition to these electronic resources, you could always pursue relationship self-help books to help you and your partner work out your problems. These books are less specialized to your exact situation, but can definitely offer interesting insight and possible solutions to your relationship problems. And even if they are less couple-specific, the books can be pretty situation-specific, with titles related to sexuality, age, religion and other categories. If you and your partner are considering relationship therapy, it’s important to consider all the types of relationship therapy options out there, so that you choose the right option for your relationship. It’s also not necessary to commit to just one type of therapy. Sometimes embracing multiple types of therapy can help you and your partner work through your problems and stay mindful in your relationship.

Signs you should try relationship therapy

If you’re asking yourself if you need to see a relationship therapist, you probably already know the answer, and yes, you should. Relationship therapy can help you and your partner overcome your problems as a team so that you can exist in a loving and healthy relationship. If you and your partner are committed to each other, the process and the prospect of improving your relationship, relationship therapy can be highly effective in addressing any issues plaguing your relationship. It’s difficult to identify an exhaustive list of of signs that you should try relationship therapy, but relationship therapy could be for you if you are your partner fight all the time, you are feeling emotionally and or sexually distant from one another, you are unable to effectively communicate, you identify a problematic pattern or recurring issues, one of you was unfaithful or you are going through a significant life event. These are good rules of thumb to use when you are deciding to pursue relationship therapy, but just know that no problem is too big or too small to approach a relationship therapist about.

The bottom line is that you and your partner should both be happy in your relationship, so if you’re not, it’s worth it to try and figure out why that is the case. A lot of things can be solved without getting a therapist involved, but sometimes it is absolutely necessary to get an expert with an outside perspective to weigh in on your situation. The most important part of relationship therapy is that both you and your partner are on the same page about seeking help. If one of you is not interested in the prospect of improving your relationship, it’s important to get to the bottom of their reasoning.

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In-person vs. Online/app therapy

In-person and online therapy provide different means to the same end, a solution to your relationship problems, and a happier and healthier union. When considering which route to take, it is important to see how in-person and online therapy stack up in terms of methodology, convenience, cost and whatnot. Some couples prefer in-person therapy because you are able to develop a personal relationship with your therapist. For a lot of people, meeting someone in-person is really crucial to developing the trust that is required in a patient-doctor relationship.

In-person therapy, as we said before, is definitely the more typical approach and some couples are drawn to the conventional and the perceived well tested nature of in-person therapy. While this is definitely a pro, there are some notable cons that you and your partner should consider. Some of the major drawbacks of in-person therapy are the inconvenience and high cost it often entails. Meeting with a therapist in-person, as a couple, means that you have to coordinate the schedule of three people, which can be really tricky. It also means dedicating some of your free time to therapy appointments. And while this is the responsible thing to do, that will most definitely pay off in the long-term, it can be hard to give up the little free time you do have to relationship therapy.

In-person therapy can also be very expensive. The rates depend on what city you live in of course, but no matter where you live, meeting with a professional relationship counselor will cost a pretty penny. Especially when considering that relationship therapy can often be a long process, with multiple costly sessions. While we have made a lot of strides in destigmatizing mental health, we have not come far enough to cover all types of therapy under insurance. Couples therapy is almost never insured, which means that you and your partner will have to front the bills in their entirety. Finances can often be at the root of relationship problems, so it’s important to consider the monetary cost and stress that in-person therapy can entail.

None of this is meant to deter you or your partner from seeking relationship therapy. But it is important to know the realities before you walk in the door of a therapist, so that you understand the time and financial weight of the commitment from the start. These barriers have prevented a lot of couples from seeking relationship therapy, which is why online therapy and apps have stepped up to try and remove these barriers, and address the needs of all couples.

When compared to in-person therapy, online therapy is definitely less conventional. Online therapy focuses less on the relationship between the therapist and the couple, and more on the couple. The therapist acts as more of a guide that you and your partner can lean on when you need support. This format can require more from you and your partner in terms of active participation and problem solving, but this can actually help you to address your problems more directly as a couple. A huge pro of online therapy is that it’s the most convenient type of therapy out there. You can access your virtual therapist around the clock, from the comfort of your own home, or the bus during your commute, or in line at the grocery store check-out. You can check in at any time of the day, with no appointment or advanced scheduling required.

Online therapy is also a great option for long-distance couples who don’t have the option to see a therapist in-person, but still need help navigating relationship problems. Online therapy is also much more affordable than in-person therapy. Online therapy often requires a monthly subscription fee, but I guarantee this fee is much cheaper than seeing someone in person. Online therapy iis the option for couples that are open to a less conventional relationship therapy option that is more convenient and approachable.

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