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Wine's avatar

How do you know if you should go to therapy/couple therapy?

Asked by Wine (615 points ) December 13th, 2012

There’s been a lot of strain on my relationship for a while, but this isn’t the only reason that I’m considering therapy/couple therapy (my s.o. is considering it as well). I just feel like it may benefit me as a person and I’m also a little nervous about seeing a therapist in an unfamiliar setting with my significant other.

I’ve tried talking to a counselor at my school and I didn’t have a very good experience, he didn’t seem like much of a help.

I’m scared that my problems may just be petty problems that a person should be able to solve without therapy and I don’t want to have the same experience that I had with the counselor.
Does anyone have any experience/advice with therapy?

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7 Answers

bookish1's avatar

I’m pretty sure that most people who go to therapy occasionally feel like their problems are petty and they should be able to handle them on their own. I’ve been trying to cut down on seeing my therapist to just once a month instead of once a week, partly out of such feelings.

That said, I am also pretty sure that most people could do with some therapy from time to time.

I’ve never done couples’ therapy, but I’ve seen a number of therapists through my life. I think the best advice I can give you is to shop around and remember that you are the client; you are paying to receive a service. Call different therapists and ask them what their philosophy is, what kinds of approaches and methods they use and ask them to explain what the terms mean if you don’t know.

Don’t be afraid to try one out once or twice and then decide that they are not for you, and then hunt for other referrals. I spent far too long (and far too much money) visiting a therapist who was absolutely awful, because I was just grateful that someone was listening to me at all. But after that, I lucked out and found a wonderful therapist who has been very helpful.

wundayatta's avatar

Therapy isn’t a test, where the therapist judges you worthy of therapy or not. If you feel you need help, you would benefit from help from a therapist you can work with. Don’t be afraid.

The therapist will guide you through the process. He or she will identify the issues you want to work on, and then help you work on the problem. Depending on the kind of therapy, you might focus on changing behavior to deal with the problems, or you might focus on understanding the roots of the problem, or there could be many other methods.

You should ask the therapists you are thinking of seeing what method they use, and then study that method to see if you think it will work for you.

In couples therapy, the therapist will probably see you both separately as well as together. You probably want a separate therapist for individual therapy. The couples therapist has to be equal for both of you. If you don’t trust that, it won’t work. If one of you is seeing the therapist individually as well as a couple, that trust is easily broken.

My wife and I have been to couples therapy and found it very helpful. I had recently been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and had been unfaithful to my wife. Therapy helped us understand why I did that, and what we both wanted from each other, and helped us learn to give each other what we wanted. Our therapist says that couples therapy doesn’t usually work, in that he usually ends up helping folks get divorced, but in our case, we are still together five years later. I believe it really helped.

As a side note, we are doing what I said you shouldn’t. Sometimes my wife sees him individually. But it doesn’t bother me. I trust him. I trust his impartiality now.

livelaughlove21's avatar

Go to therapy. I believe that most people would benefit from some form of therapy. If there is strain on the relationship and you’re both willing to see a marriage therapist or something like that, why not go for it? Don’t look at your problems as petty – if it causes problems, there’s nothing petty about it. And don’t be discouraged by your past experience. I’ve found school counselors to be pretty useless in general, with few exceptions. Seeing a couple’s therapist will be a different type of experience.

Just know that the therapist isn’t there to tell you whether he or she thinks you two will make it as a couple. So don’t be afraid that is what he or she will be doing. Counselors are very good at assisting people with any concerns they have and putting them into perspective.

I’d say that it would be a positive experience for both of you, and I think it’s great that your partner is on board as well. Doing something to resolve issues in your relationship is much better than the alternative – potentially ending that relationship when it was fixable all along.

hearkat's avatar

If you think it might be of value to you, then go. If your concerns seem difficult to handle on your own, they clearly aren’t petty. Couples therapy can be beneficial in helping each of you learn to listen and empathize with each other and to resolve differences respectfully.

wildpotato's avatar

I believe that every human being would benefit from therapy. We are all at least a little bit messed up from our upbringing, from living with other messed-up humans, and from being in our own heads. Don’t worry about having problems you think of as petty – the therapist will not evaluate you or your problems in that way. Think of therapy as a way to give you some outside perspective, which will help you see and solve your own problems more clearly.

zensky's avatar

When you have to ask the internet.

Bellatrix's avatar

Couples therapy isn’t just for those who are having major problems and struggling to keep their relationship together. Some couples regularly go to therapy to help them keep their relationship strong and to iron out the little niggles many of us face. So rather than seeing it as perhaps an admission that your relationship has problems, see it as an investment in building your relationship and making it stronger.

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