The Importance of Couples Counseling And Its Impact on Mental Health

how couples counseling impacts mental health

For those with a counseling degree, one area of specialization worth considering is couples counseling. 

It is common for marriages and relationships to encounter rough patches and require help to get back on track. This is the role of couples counseling, and there is a definite need for counselors who specialize in helping couples save or improve their relationships, especially as it is estimated that about 45 percent of marriages end in divorce.

Marriage Counseling or Couples Therapy 

Couples counseling typically takes two forms, marriage counseling or couples therapy. While the two terms may be used interchangeably, they differ in their focus and aims. In marriage counseling, the marriage itself is viewed as its own entity separate from the two individuals and focuses on the current situation and on what is required to save the marriage. Couples therapy, meanwhile, delves into the relationship’s history and any unhealthy patterns that might be the root cause of current problems.

Couples counseling can help people in relationships in multiple ways, including:

  • Identifying dysfunctional relationship patterns
  • Changing harmful behaviors that negatively impact the relationship
  • Improving communication skills 
  • Learning how to speak more openly about emotions

Successful couples counseling engagements can last anywhere from eight to twelve sessions to a year, or more. Unfortunately, in the case of marriage counseling, on average couples who seek counseling have been married for three to five years, and they may have already been experiencing problems for an extended period.

A High Success Rate

The success rate for couples counseling has risen steadily over the past few decades and is currently estimated to be about 70 percent. Though, regardless of the numbers, in every situation, a successful counseling engagement requires both individuals involved to commit to improving the relationship and to actively applying what they learn in the sessions.

Additionally, while couples and individual counseling should be kept separate, couples counseling can help with an individual’s mental health. Indeed, couples counseling can help if the mental health issue is the result of an unresolved past event or difficulty the individual experienced that can best be addressed in the context of the relationship. 

While counselors can facilitate marriage counseling or couples therapy, counseling methods and approaches that are effective for individual counseling will not necessarily be applicable or work for couples counseling. For this reason, relationship counseling requires specialized training. 

If you are interested in helping other people have happier, more fulfilling marriages or relationships as couples, this specialty is worth exploring.

Begin your counseling career by pursuing an MS in Professional Counseling from Carlow University in Pittsburgh. This accredited program will train you to work with children, adults and families in a variety of settings, and allow you to tailor your degree by choosing a clinical concentration such as child and adolescent, trauma-informed or forensic counseling.