The Effectiveness of Couples Counseling
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 another. 1
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 relationship issues. 3
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. 4Research outcomes on couples counseling suggest the following:
- 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.htmlwww.census.gov/ www.bls.gov/home.htm
4. Friedlander, M. (1997) The scientific basis of couples and family therapy research. Allyn and Bacon: Boston.www.marriagetherapy.org/dssbhmarriage127.html. 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: Boston.