Dec 17, 2021
Making the choice to go to couples counseling can feel like a very big step. It involves admitting that things are not perfect in your partnership, which is often tough to do and scary to admit. And if you are not particularly familiar with what therapy is all about, it can feel mysterious and confusing, not to mention it can involve considerable effort — finding an appropriate provider, figuring out insurance and other financial aspects of the commitment, coming up with a time to fit into everyone's schedule. Often, the idea of seeing a marriage or couples therapist sits on the back burner, with one or both parties thinking that it may be a good idea, but also feeling unsure of how to proceed — and of whether their specific problems can really be helped.
To help demystify the process, I've outlined some common issues that indicate that a couple could potentially benefit from seeing someone. It's important to remember that most therapists, both for couples and individuals, offer some version of a free consultation to let you decide whether they might be a good fit for you. Don't be afraid to reach out and ask questions — the earlier, the better — so that if it's not a good match, you can move on.
One of the most common reasons for seeking couples therapy is the need for help in overcoming a major breach of trust. Perhaps it was infidelity in the form of sex; perhaps it was an emotional affair; perhaps it was a series of lies or deception about money. In any case, the rebuilding of the foundation of trust can often be helped by establishing a forum in which both parties are free to express their vulnerability.
Do you notice that the rhythm of your day-to-day life is shifting to feel more conflict-oriented? Maybe they are all "small" arguments, or maybe the blowouts are huge and leaving a lot of drama in their wake. Either way, it's the pattern of the increase that is important. Perhaps it is a blip on the screen, with one of you going through something tough personally. But it could also indicate a risky trajectory into constant arguing. More important, it could indicate significant problems under the surface that aren't really being dealt with.
Maybe overt conflict is not the problem, but you constantly feel misunderstood or ignored. Or maybe you feel like you don't even have a good idea of what is happening with your partner emotionally as of late; he or she might as well be a stranger. Often, one of the most tangible outcomes of couples therapy is an increase in communication, and a major improvement in its quality. A skilled counselor can equip you with tools that will help you connect, hear, and understand each other much better on a daily basis.
Just as with individual therapy, sometimes couples therapy is useful not only for solving problems, but also for identifying them. Let's say something in the dynamic of your marriage has changed, but you can't really describe it. Or you don't feel as comfortable with your partner as you used to. Or you find yourself chronically resentful of them, but you're not sure why. These are often early signs that interactions are turning unhealthy or dysfunctional. It does not mean that one person is to blame, but rather that the relationship itself could use a tune-up, and a therapist's office is often a very beneficial place to start that process.
Sometimes the beauty of therapy starts with the room itself: It can become a safe and supportive place for you to bring up things that are difficult to talk about in other settings. A trained professional with a warm presence can often help you overcome your fears of sharing something with your partner.
We know from John Gottman's research that how a couple handles conflict is one of the best predictors of whether their relationship will go the distance. Maybe you or your partner shuts down, lashes out, or gets vengeful or passive-aggressive. Unfortunately, there is no shortage of dysfunctional ways to handle conflict — which serves to make the original problem that much worse.
Sometimes the cruel double-whammy of a setback in life is that it's not just the setback itself that hurts, but also the effect it has on a marriage or partnership. Many couples go their separate ways after the heartbreaking loss of a child, for instance. Other times, it's long-term unemployment, a health crisis, or turmoil within one of the partner's families of origin. You might not think of going to couples counseling in the wake of something so big happening; after all, you have enough to worry about as it is. But keeping your bond strong in your relationship can only serve to unite you and give you additional strength to weather the storm that's come.
There is no limit to the number of patterns that partners develop in day-to-day life, from how and when they eat and sleep (and poor sleep is associated with marital problems), to how much time they spend apart or with others, to who handles various household chores, to how they interact with each other's families. Maybe a dysfunctional and unsatisfying pattern is as simple as one spouse always using the other as a sounding board about work complaints, but never bothering to reciprocate without losing interest. Or maybe it's more deep-seated, like a long-standing division of household chores that feels unfair (or infuriating.) The longer a pattern sets in, however, the more energy and time it will take to change it. Best to start early.
It is almost a cliche for two partners to feel like the "spark" is gone after spending a decade or more together, and that they are more roommates than soul mates. Sometimes this is just because the grind of daily life has begun to eclipse the ability to connect, and it's simply a matter of re-prioritizing. Other times, it can be more insidious and represent two partners who have quietly been growing apart, have been changing in incompatible ways for a long period, or have even learned to get their needs met elsewhere.
Sexual issues can be both a symptom and a cause of relationship problems, which means it is often at the forefront of a couple's day-to-day complaints. Sometimes the change is obvious and frustrating — a couple goes from frequent physical intimacy to almost none, and it is jarring. Other times, it's a gradual freeze from being fulfilled by each other sexually to barely being satisfied. Sometimes there is more overt conflict, with one partner expressing frustration, a partner constantly being rejected, or sex being used as a bargaining tool. Whatever the issue, a skilled counselor can help you start working on it.
Source: Psychology Today
Disclaimer: This article has been designed for entertainment and informational purposes; it is not personalised medical advice. This guide may be a useful read to generate some ideas, however, please take advice from a medical professional.
I have had a few sessions with Debra. When I arrived for my first session she made me feel very comfortable and the session just flew by. Debbie really took the time to understand what I was saying and made me feel like she really wanted to help me through my problems. She has gone over and above expectations, supporting me through a very big decision. The rooms are very relaxing and comfortable and there is barely any noise from outside. I would fully recommend having sessions with Debra. She has really opened up my eyes to the reasons of why I feel the way I do and ways to try and reduce those feelings.
Just wanted to say a huge thank you to Debbie here at Head Agenda! She has been absolutely amazing in getting me through what felt like a million and one problems when I first went in. I truly came to think of her as a friend and felt her genuine care and want to help me. I always came away from every session feeling lighter and much more positive and she's always been so friendly, sensitive and incredibly relatable. She has guided me through an extremely difficult time in my life and got me through and out of that dark tunnel.
The rooms were always comfortable and inviting and always made me feel at ease to talk
Thank you so much again, Debbie you're an absolute star!
Can't rate Head Agenda, or my therapist, highly enough. I had my first appointment within two weeks of enquiring and began CAT therapy with Jonathan. His kind, caring and friendly approach instantly helped me to feel relaxed, leading to several breakthroughs during our sessions. My therapy with Jonathan has been genuinely life changing; this is by far the best money I've ever spent. I now feel calmer and more content, and have the tools needed to enjoy better mental health.
If you're ready to put in the work, I'd definitely recommend Head Agenda.
Have had wonderful, sensitive support from Debra, who has helped me learn to take time to sit with my own grief rather than be present 100% of time for others. She made the sessions relaxed, and I will be getting in touch if there are more bumps in my road further down the line. Thank you.
Daniel was kind and helpful to my family member . Gave strategies to help with stress and anxiety that can use . Liked the practical exercises and has kept the list he made at his final sessions to remind him of all the positive things they talked about
Highly recommended! One of the best investments of my life. A very friendly, kind and professional team. The atmosphere of the place is also great: very calm and relaxing. I went to try CBT and after a few sessions, it worked! I am happier and know myself much better now. I will always be grateful! Thank you, Mandy.
Such a fantastic place. Super friendly and understanding team. Got an appointment really quickly. Such a calm and relaxing space. Thank you!
Excellent service. Really useful. Helped a lot. Thanks
I've been seeing Mandy for a year now and she has transformed my life. I can't thank her enough. Having seen numerous therapists over the years I've never found anyone so effective. Mandy has a wealth of knowledge and I've found her very easy to open up to. Cannot recommend highly enough.
Counselling will start this week but my initial contact with Head Agenda has been great. Lovely friendly reply to my initial email enquiry, followed by a phone call from Amanda who was very easy to talk and was very reassuring and helpful with all my questions and concerns.
I am glad I went to Head Agenda, great staff and Mark was really helpful and friendly. If you are unsure about going to see anyone then maybe just book an appointment and discuss it with them. Even if you think you are mentally strong there is always room for improvement. I feel like Mark has helped me find the right path to go forward in my life. I would recommend this company :)
Jonathan at Head Agenda was absolutely fantastic. I felt very comfortable throughout. Really positive experience.
Liz was great, can't recommend Head Agenda enough! I went for 12 weeks in total and I feel like it has really got me back on track from the place that I was. Thank you!
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I just wanted to say a huge thank you to Debbie who I had many sessions with earlier this year. At first I was very hesitant but was by far was the best decision I have made and I am now in a place I could have only dreamt to be in a year ago. I could not recommend Debbie highly enough and genuinely want to thank her from the bottom of my heart.
I can't begin to describe how incredible Darren has been in helping me with my mental health. He enabled me to respect and love myself for the first time in a very long time. I have come a long way since starting my sessions and I will be forever grateful to Darren for facilitating my process of healing. I highly recommend Darren and Head Agenda!
Debra was very kind and understanding, she gave considerate and constructive advice, we cannot thank her enough for all that she did to help!
I couldn't recommend Juliet enough. She is a warm, kind and caring therapist who pulled me through a challenging, dark time. I am forever thankful for all her support, wealth of experience and tools she provided. Thank you Juliet x
I went to Head Agenda to try to tackle my severe anxiety. My therapist Jonathan was really helpful and kind and I now feel more equipped to manage my mental health. The space is calming and welcoming. I would recommend Head Agenda to anyone who is suffering and who needs professional support.
I've just finished my last session with my therapist - Debbie, and I can't thank her enough for helping me through a difficult time in my life and seeing the light. I was very apprehensive at first, I've never had counselling before and I was in denial about my problem. But speaking to Debbie is one of the best things I've done, she is friendly, caring and it felt natural talking to her, and she gave me the tools I need to help get better. Very easy booking through Head Agenda, would highly recommend.
I was lucky enough to be helped by Mark. I can't find any fault with him. He made me feel comfortable from the get-go. Professional but personable, paid more attention to what I was saying than I did! He seems very intelligent but not at all condescending. If you have any issues you would like to talk through, I would recommend Mark 100%.
Great service, really easy to find a therapist to match your needs - spoke to Amanda who was super friendly and made the whole process really painless - thank you!
I honestly can't recommend Head Agenda enough. When I first enquired by email the response was prompt, professional and clear. I was very quickly assigned to Jane Hickson, who agreed to work with me flexibly around my work schedule. Although I didn't have many sessions, i can honestly say that attending counselling with Jane has changed my life considerably. She really helped me work things out. She was professional, yet kind the whole time. Also, the rooms and surroundings are very comfortable and calming.
Head Agenda were great, and really helped me with my issues. The space was great quiet and private it did not feel intimidating. My therapist Jonathan, took the time to understand my problems and was really helpful and easy to approach. Would recommend.
First ever experience with counselling for myself, and it has helped my tenfold. Would recommend to anyone.
Fantastic service and help through some tough times. Natalie has been wonderful over these last few months.
I've been seeing June for a while now. I have tried a number of therapies and therapists over the years, but have never really felt heard or understood. I am able to be my authentic self with June, without any fear of judgement or embarrassment. She has an amazing way of challenging my thoughts, in a gentle way, but enough so to allow me to start to reconsider my own thoughts and feelings. She has already had a big impact on my life, and I cannot recommend her highly enough!
The office is lovely and calming, the other staff are always helpful and polite.
100% recommend Head Agenda!
I could not recommend Caroline at Head Agenda enough. I was very hesitant when it came to therapy but Caroline had provided me with the confidence to speak about my issues, no matter how big or small. She has constantly treated me with grace and respect, I am very grateful for her.
Interesting, insightful and has been no end of help for my self improvement. Can't thank these lot enough. I feel much more confident and optimistic going forward and it’s down to Mark and the Head Agenda team.
I came to see Mandy in autumn 2019 for some CBT to deal with my anxiety which at times spiralled out of control for weeks/months at a time. Mandy was great, in the end doing a combination of both therapy and CBT to explore where the anxiety had come from, as well as how to put it back in its box. She was great at challenging me, which is just what I needed. An immediate affect was feeling significantly less nervous about flying. I now find myself in week 5 of the UK COVID lockdown, a time that is causing anxiety for so many people, and able to cope. Yes, I have felt anxious (who hasn’t!!), but it has been for a maximum of an hour or two, and not endless. I can highly recommend Head Agenda. Thank you.
Debra has been absolutely wonderful in helping me understand my mental health. She’s made me feel so calm and relaxed in sessions. Couldn’t recommend her enough!
Head Agenda has been brilliant for me whilst going through a turbulent time in my life. Mark has been amazing. Calm, kind, professional, a complete expert who helps you work through anything whilst providing you with a range of tools you can use. He increases your self awareness and does it with such a positive reassuring presence that lets you feel relaxed and confident to talk to him. Can't recommend Mark and Head Agenda highly enough.
I found Head Agenda through another website which recommended therapists. I have used Head Agenda for roughly 6 months and it has been a transformative experience. My therapist was professional, kind, understanding and helpful with making changes and seeing things in a new way. I can't recommend the experience enough.
After years of been in and out of therapy I was sceptical about trying it again, I went in expecting to be disappointed. I couldn't have been more wrong.
The knowledge, empathy and approach Mandy took to with me was something i'd never experienced before. I actually feel excited to start a new chapter of my life and I wouldn't be in this position if it wasn't for Head Agenda.
About 4 months ago I decided to try therapy and was recommended Head Agenda by my girlfriend. After getting in contact with them I was assigned to Darren and over that period of time I found him very helpful, I would definitely recommend him and say it was a really positive experience
This was my first experience with counselling. I was always reluctant to seek help for whatever reason. With recent health issues I felt that it was the 'icing on the cake' and I needed help. Then I met the wonderful Debbie at Head Agenda. She has guided me more than I ever thought possible. She has helped me see what's truly important and helped me breakdown understand what once felt like big mess in my head! She has taught me so much and I can finally say, today, that I am ready to use her kind words and advice and see how I get on alone. I know she is always there though if I need her one day. I now feel I am strong enough, all thanks to Debbie.
Thank you so much, Deb! You've been an angel x
My experience with Head Agenda has been liberating for me! I would recommend anyone that’s thinking of getting help to look no further.