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Is Solo Couples Counseling Effective?

What do you do when your primary relationship – live-in, dating, or marriage – is in trouble, but the other person won't go to counseling? 

Or what do you do when you think your relationship might be in trouble, but you are not ready to ask your partner to attend counseling....  

Is it worth it to go alone to see a counselor when you are addressing relationship issues? 

The answer is....Yes!    

Why Get Couples Counseling

Often, when we encounter difficulties in our primary relationships, we have many questions. These questions may range from, "Why are we having trouble?" to "What can we do to fix this?" or  "Are we really having trouble or am I blowing things out of proportion?"  

But what we do know is that something that used to feel good, for whatever reason, no longer feels good.  In fact, it might feel downright “bad” in many ways.  And if we say, “ Hey, honey, how about couples counseling?” and the other person declines, what do we do? 

Why Get Solo Couples Counseling?

Firstly, all counseling, including couples counseling, can provide support, education and assessment assistance. 

All of those things can be very helpful when experiencing unwell feelings or situations, and alone, you can focus on the only part of any relationship that you can control – you.  

Gaining clarity and an outside view can help you feel better and understand your situation better, and may help you cope, change or interact with the other person more effectively.

How It Can Help - Even Alone

Whether or not your significant other attends with you, mental health assistance can benefit you, and therefore, may also help your relationship.

  • Furthering your own sense of balance and well-being can help you in, and out, of your relationship
  • It is also possible that the other person may see positive changes in you and open up to the possibility of counseling, or might be willing to talk with you about the differences they see
  • It's also possible that the other person may run from the changes in you or no longer be compatible with who you want to be, and counseling can help you to work through these transitions. 

Where to Find Help

So what can you do right now?  Seek help - you do not have to go through this alone. 

Your friends and family might love you unconditionally, but they are not trained mental health professionals (and their subjective affection might skew their views, albeit in a positive direction). Instead, talk to your church pastor, Employee Assistance Program, or see your family doctor for a referral to a good counselor in your area.  Online counseling works for some folks, and some support groups might have applicable topics. 

  • Does attending couples counseling alone fix everything? No - Is it a useless exercise? No. 
  • Could it be useful in providing support and education? Absolutely. Can counseling ever fix everything? No. 
  • Would it be good if both persons in a couple went to couples counseling together?  Depending on the issues, most of the time yes – although some issues (abuse, past trauma, for example) may necessitate some individual counseling. 

Don't suffer in silence. Don't suffer alone. Seek couples counseling together, but if the other person won't attend, or if you are not sure you want couples counseling together, and you need help, then go and get it. 

From Victim Advocacy with survivors of abuse and violence, case management with senior citizens and their families, counseling with at-risk youth and their families, to therapy with adults fighting addiction - bereavement, depression, relationship issues, parenting issues, divorce, blended families, disability, career changes, life changes, my professional experience has encountered it all (so to speak). Fitness, health, coping with chronic illness, aging parents, raising children, job loss, job stress,.... and the list goes on!

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