Why couples therapy can work for you

By: Courtney Hope

Author: Canadian Living


Why couples therapy can work for you

By: Courtney Hope
No matter how long you've been with your spouse, or what type of relationship you have, there's always room for improvement. But you might not know what steps to take to enhance your connection or get your marriage back on track. This is where couples therapy comes in.

We sat down with chartered psychologist Lesley Lacny to find out more about how therapy can make your relationship the best it can be. "Couples therapy is a process that guides the development and maintenance of a supportive, deeply satisfying relationship," Lacny explains. "It provides an opportunity to strengthen a connection versus pulling further apart." She shares some of the main reasons to consider couples therapy.

1. Therapy can help with any issue -- big or small
"People often think therapy is only for couples whose relationships are so bad that it is their last resort," says Lacny. She cites major issues such as infidelity or domestic violence as examples of what people believe are legitimate reasons for needing couples therapy, and explains that it is often smaller issues, such as basic communication problems, that couples should really be focusing on.

Lacny also points out that just because you haven't been married for 25 years or through your share of ups and downs, it doesn't mean that couples therapy won't work for you. "New couples tend to be very reluctant to attend therapy because they haven't been together very long," she says. However, the benefits of couples therapy are not dependent on the length of your relationship or the type of issues you have.

2. Therapy gives you the tools to mend your relationship
Some of the most basic tools you need for recovering from problems in your relationship can be learned in the office of a couples therapist, who is trained to be a third set of eyes and ears, and to see and hear what you might not have been paying attention to in your relationship.

"Couples therapy is a great way to learn to manage conflict and anger, and for being able to really hear your partner and to learn how to use effective listening to strengthen your bond," Lacny explains. You should utilize couples therapists for their abilities to strengthen your communication skills as a couple, their insights on how to best proceed with issues without anger or resentment, and their unbiased opinions on your situation.

Page 1 of 2 -- Discover how couples therapy can provide a better understanding of yourself and your future as a couple on page 2
3. Therapy helps you learn about yourself
Lacny also emphasizes the important role that a couples therapist plays in opening your eyes to elements of yourself that you may not have considered. "It is very beneficial to be able to look at your history, before your partner was in the picture, and see how it affects the reactions you have to certain situations in your current relationship," she says. The better you understand yourself and your own role in your relationship, the easier it will be to solve issues that arise.

4. Therapy helps you be proactive

Therapy is a good way to be proactive about the future and problems that could develop, even for partners who are in a perfectly stable, loving relationship, says Lacny. "In any relationship there are naturally always going to be things that come up," she says. "Your differences are part of what attracted you to one another in the first place, and those differences will naturally cause conflict at some point."

Using time with a professional to focus on your differences, to understand how they may cause problems in the future and to learn how to deal with them, can be greatly beneficial in the long run. "Learning to understand each others' coping skills and history is the best way to deal with issues when they do arise," says Lacny.

There is no such thing as a perfect marriage, but there is such a thing as a desire to want the very best that's possible for your relationship. If you are unhappy with your relationship, go ahead and seek help without shame; and if you are happy, seek help without judgment. In the end, you have nothing to lose and your relationship deserves the attention.

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Why couples therapy can work for you