Couple's counseling is based on the
premise that individuals and their problems are best handled within
the context of the couple's relationship. Typically, both partners
in the relationship attend the counseling session to discuss the
couple's specific issues. The aim of couple's counseling is to help
a couple deal appropriately with their immediate problems and to
learn better ways of relating in general.
Couples therapy or couple's counseling is a useful modality of help
for couples who are experiencing difficulties such as repetitive
arguments, feelings of distance or emptiness in the relationship,
pervasive feelings of anger, resentment and or dissatisfaction or
lack of interest in affection or in a physical relationship with one
According to the 2000 Census the majority of American society chose
to reside or live with a partner. 52% of US households are
maintained by married couples, and there is an increase in the
number of couples living together from 3.3 million in 1990 to 5.5
million in 2000.2 Nationwide in 2000, there were 21,000 marriage and
family therapists helping couples work through and deal with their
In a review of the literature through mid-1996, Pinsof, Wynne, and
Hambright (1996: Pinsof & Wynne, 1995) concluded that significant
data exists support the efficacy of family and couples therapy and
that there is no evidence indicating that couples are harmed when
they undergo treatment.4
Research outcomes on couples counseling suggest
- At the end of couple's therapy, 75% of couples receiving therapy
are better off than similar couples who did not receive therapy.
- Sixty five percent of couples report "significant" improvement
based on averaged scores of marital "satisfaction."
- Most couples will benefit from therapy, but both spouses will not
necessarily experience the same outcomes or benefits.
- Therapies that produce the greatest gain and are able to maintain
that gain over the long amount of time, tend to affect the couple's
emotional bonds and help the spouse's work together to achieve a
greater level of "differentiation" or emotional maturity.5
In determining as a couple what type
of therapist that you wish to receive treatment from keep in mind
that according to a large-scale survey of over 4,000 Consumer
Reports readers showed in 1995, people in therapy generally rated
psychologists, clinical social workers, and psychiatrists about as
equally effective in helping their clients.6
Couples today feel increasingly isolated and are expected to manage
their lives and families without the community supports that in the
past were a primary resource in raising children and meeting family
needs. Couples in our present culture are less bound by family
traditions and are freer than ever before to develop relationships
unlike those of the families that they were raised in.7
With the aid of a qualified clinician, couples can bring peace,
stability and communication back into their relationship thus
affecting their lives and the lives of those most impacted by them
and their relationship.
1. Center for Addiction and
Mental Health. Couple therapy: Factors influencing a couple's
relationship. Available at www.camh.net/about_addiction_mental_health/couple_therapy_factors.html
2. US Census (2000). Available at http://www.census.gov/
3. US Department of Labor (2000), Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Available at http://www.bls.gov/home.htm
4. Friedlander, M. (1997) The scientific basis of couples and family
therapy research. Allyn and Bacon: Boston.
5. Wills, R.M (2001) Effectiveness of therapy. Available at http://www.marriagetherapy.org/dssbhmarriage127.html.
6. Consumer Reports (1995) Available at http://www.consumerreports.org/main/home.jsp?source=DG&AFFID=S145MC0
7. Carter B., McGoldrick M., (1989), The expanded family life cycle;
Individual, family, and social perspectives. Allyn and Bacon: