When should you NOT try couples therapy?

When should you NOT try couples therapy?


In my last post, I shared a few reasons you might want to seek out couples therapy, such as feeling disconnected from your partner or having the same fight over and over. In this post, I’m going to explore 3 reasons couples therapy might NOT be the best option for you. I usually hold hope that my clients can build the healthy and loving relationships they want with time and effort. But there are times when another service might be more helpful, such as discernment counseling (I’ll explain below).

  1. Divorce is already on the table or you are already separated.

    If one partner has already left or your relationship is so on fire one or both of you is seriously considering divorce, you might actually benefit from a service called discernment counseling before you move on to couples therapy. Discernment counseling is specifically for couples who have a lot of ambivalence about whether to move forward. It can help you both decide if you’re ready to commit to the work required by couples therapy, or if you’re better off ending the relationship now. You can find a discernment counselor through this directory. I also provide discernment counseling, so feel free to reach out for a consult to see if this could be the right fit for you and your partner.

  2. You or your partner have an unaddressed substance use or mental health issue and are unwilling to seek help.

    Couples who have struggled with addiction or with mental health issues can have strong, wonderful relationships. Where couples counseling can get stuck, though, is when one partner has an issue that they aren’t willing to get help with. If your partner is actively addicted to a substance and taking no steps to address that, couples counseling isn’t likely to make big changes for your relationship until that issue is addressed. Similarly, if your partner has a severe mental illness, couples counseling can be useful but only to the extent that your partner is willing to get the additional help that they need from individual therapy.

    3. Your partner emotionally, mentally, financially or physical abuses you.

    Let’s say your partner systematically belittles, gaslights or even physically abuses you. In this case, you’re better off seeking individual counseling as couples counseling could make the abuse worse. Loveisrespect.org is a helpful website with many resources for how to identify an abusive relationship, how to create a safety plan, and how to leave safely if that’s what you choose to do. They also offer a 24/7 text and phone call crisis line that you can reach out to for support. You might feel confused about whether your relationship fits this category or not. Here’s a quiz that can help you determine how healthy your relationship is right now.

If any of the above circumstances fit your situation, please check out the resources I mentioned. Feel free to reach out if you need additional help or have more questions. To chat about working together, schedule a free consult.