All long-term relationships have challenges and every now and then things can approach a tipping point. That’s a red flag – it’s time to reflect, take action and turn things right side up again.
People rarely want to leave their relationship. Most people want to figure things out. They want to make things better.
People ask; Is this possible? Can this / will this work? And mostly, the answer is YES!
When you’re looking for professional help it’s important to be an informed consumer. Approach the decision together; thoughtfully and collaboratively.
Here are three simple steps to guide you through the process of making a choice that is good for you AND good for your relationship:
1. Do Your Research. In the field of behavioral health, there are over 400 published counseling theories yet scientific outcome only supports a fraction of these approaches and only two (2) are proven effective with couples.
Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT) is considered the most effective method by far yet even with EFT there are three (3) contraindications for couples therapy;
- An ongoing affair.
- Domestic violence.
- If one person truly does not want to be there. (Coerscion doesn’t work!)
If any one of these conditions is present, couples therapy is unlikely to be successful and should not be attempted.
2. Interview at least two professionals. If you’re going to work with someone – anyone – interview him/her first. You are about to entrust your fragile and most precious relationship to a complete stranger. Make sure they are worthy of your trust. Essentially you’ll want to look for two things:
Find out if the person you’re interviewing is the most competent person available to you. Then ask yourself; Am I comfortable with this person? If you and your partner both feel safe, secure and consider this person a ‘good fit’, great! If not, move on. Here are nine questions I created a while back to help people through the interviewing process.
3. Make a time commitment. Once you’ve made the decision to work with someone, commit to a short but specific period of time to see if you can get favorable movement in your relationship. You’re looking for an upward trend here. Things may not be perfect but ask these questions:
- Are we making some progress and learning helpful things about each other?
- Are we doing our part?
- Do we experience glimmers of hope and enjoy each other in those moments?
- Are things getting worse between us?
Good couples therapy is a collaborative process. Have candid discussions with your therapist and review your progress often. If your professional doesn’t want to have those conversations or you feel shamed or blamed, it’s time to do more research and move on.