How Effective Is Marriage Counselling?

Multiple studies have shown that marital counselling reduces relationship distress. Working with a trained professional allows for couples to safely share their feelings, hear each other, and learn helpful new skills – this ultimately leads to a healthier relationship. Receiving relationship help from a professional was shown to be much more effective than receiving relationship help from a friend or family member.


But before looking into couple’s counselling, you probably asked yourself:

What makes marriage counselling effective?


The short answer is that it depends.


It may be hard to realize that couple’s counselling is working for you and your partner. There are a few things that will ultimately determine the effectiveness of your marriage counselling sessions. After reading this article, you should have a good idea of what effective marriage counselling looks like.

What you want from marriage counselling

There are multiple ways couples can benefit from marriage or relationship counselling. The benefits should align with your goals, which will dictate how you measure the success of your marriage counselling sessions.

The benefits of marriage counselling can include the following:

  • Increasing positive communication
  • Mediation and conflict resolution
  • Building trust
  • Healing from the past
  • Learning proven and effective tools for conflict resolution


Your expectations are first and foremost the most important thing a counsellor will consider. When you are seeking a marriage or relationship counsellor, you are most likely reaching out for help. You see there is still a fire that can be rekindled, which is why you are seeking support.


This is why it is important for you to go to a marriage counsellor with realistic goals and objectives. You and your partner may have different goals, which can make the process even more difficult. With a counsellor’s mediation skills, both you and your partner can form goals that align with each other.


But what are the signs of effective marriage counselling?


Other than achieving your personal goals, there are five principles of effective couples counselling. After reviewing 40 years of couples counselling, these five principles were determined by Lisa Benson, Meghan McGinn, and Andrew Christensen in 2012.


  1. Alter the couple’s view of the presenting problem to be more objective
  2. Decrease emotion-driven, dysfunctional behavior
  3. Prevent emotional avoidance
  4. Increase positive communication
  5. Emphasize the couple’s strengths and reinforce gains


Depending on your situation, these principles may or may not align with the results of your marriage counselling sessions. These principles are important to consider, and it will definitely help you measure the success of each session.


You do need to consider that not all benefits of marriage counselling will apply to your relationship. You and your partner may already nail one of these principles. This means your counsellor will need to alter the structure of your sessions to get the rest of these principles down.


Working your way towards achieving these principles will obviously result in a stronger relationship. But can they be used to save a marriage? This depends on your current situation and how you approach counselling.


How you approach counselling and your current situation

When you want something to grow, you’ll need to be committed. This includes the relationship you share with your partner. How you approach counselling is important – it’s not something that will work instantaneously. Couple’s counselling is a process that requires commitment.


Couples will need to be onboard with meeting consistently. That usually means meeting on a more frequent basis. Meeting on a weekly basis will be better than meeting on a monthly basis, especially at first. Couple’s therapy requires a great deal of care and attention from all parties, which leads up to another factor.


Both partners need to be open to speaking with a counsellor.


This can be a challenge in itself. One person may be open to reaching out for help, while the other may require much more time to open up about the relationship. If this is the case, you can try easing your way into attending individual sessions. This will help both partners establish trust with the counsellor before looking into marriage counselling.


Although individual therapy can help shape your relationship, you’ll need to consider the time it takes to be effective. Since you are attending separate sessions, each individual will progress differently.


Attending couple’s therapy as a couple will generally lead to better results. Statistics show that 98% of those that received couples therapy concluded that they received good or excellent results. If both partners are willing to participate, couples therapy will be much more effective. A large majority of 93% also left with more effective problem solving and conflict resolution tools.


Going to therapy as a couple will give you a chance to work on the dynamic of your relationship. With the help of a counsellor, you’ll also get a chance to identify any problems you and your partner share. In addition to more effective counselling, you’ll also save time and receive greater value.


Marriage counselling has been shown to work, and even more so when everyone is onboard.


Speaking with the right counsellor

If your backs are against the wall, and you feel like separation is the only solution – a counsellor will help. Marriage counselling is effective when the counsellor considers all options available to both parties. The right counsellor will be able to understand the impact each session will have on your marriage.


Marriage counselling requires commitment from all parties involved. You need to be able to cooperate, follow up, and try your counsellor’s suggestions. This also means your counsellor needs to be invested in your relationship too. Your counsellor needs to understand, listen, remain unbiased, and be willing to help you.


Your relationship can be delicate at times, so you’ll need a counsellor that can create a positive environment for all parties involved. You also need a counsellor that you can trust.


With that being said, not all counsellors can help you and your partner rekindle that fire. Your counsellor’s abilities depend on their experience, and whether or not they are qualified for marriage counselling. Some counsellors may work well for others, which is why the experience you have with your counsellor can vary.


Your counsellor should have experience working with couples successfully. They should also have the education to back up that experience as well. Try looking for testimonials or reviews on social media. Your friends and family may also have suggestions that you can look into. Your counsellor has to show that they are truly invested in your relationship, and willing to help you and your partner.


You should finish your couple’s therapy with a healthier relationship. This doesn’t necessarily mean preventing divorce or separation. A counsellor should help alleviate you from negative and unpleasant interactions you’re experiencing in your relationship.


You should now be equipped with the knowledge to understand whether your couple’s therapy is working or not. It depends on what you seek, how you approach each session, and your counsellor’s abilities.


If you’re still looking for help, it’s better to reach out sooner. Look for a counsellor that can provide you with a safe, private, and positive environment that can help you and your partner with the healing process.


Your relationship can be given the resources to gain strength. If you’re looking for a marriage counsellor in Burnaby, BC, One Oak Counselling offers you the support and professionalism required to heal your relationship.


Fill out the form below or give us a call for a free 30-minute consultation. We’ll talk about how we can help you and your partner.


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