The global COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a mental health crisis in the United States. More people than ever are reporting symptoms of depression, relationship issues, and the need for psychotherapy than ever before. Changing lifestyles, increased financial pressure, lifestyle modifications, isolation, and more are adding up to couples seeking qualified mental health professionals and clinicians to help them improve relationships. If you and your partner are struggling with tension or are hoping for a significant difference in your relationship during these unconventional times, there are mental health professionals with years of experience who can help you get back on track. If you and the person you love are considering seeing a clinical psychologist or marriage and family therapist for couple’s counseling, here’s what you can expect.

Purpose of Couples Therapy

Couples counseling is not the same as individual therapy. Even if you’ve had therapy sessions with your current therapist for years, it’s important to understand that couple’s therapy works a different way. In fact, most therapists won’t take on your partner for couple’s sessions even if they’re trained in group and family systems. Instead, they will refer you to a different therapist for an unbiased perspective.

The way couples counseling works is that a therapist will listen to you and your partner’s perspectives and help you to better communicate your wants and needs. A couples therapist won’t take sides or encourage you to remain together or split up. Instead, their job is to help you to make decisions about your relationship as a team.

To find a qualified couples therapist, check out With Therapy. Therapists on this fantastic site can offer interventions including the Gottman method; a proven couples therapy intervention that will help you and your partner remember your shared dream and reconnect.

The Shared Dream

One of the major goals of couples therapy is the identification of the shared dream. A therapist will help you and your partner to remember why you love each other and made your commitment in the first place. They may even suggest you attend a couples therapy retreat to reconnect.

On a typical couples retreat, you and your partner will work with other couples and mental health professionals in group therapy. You’ll learn new skills to help your relationship and communication patterns. You’ll also be encouraged to identify things like your relationship dance and how to make adjustments that are beneficial to your relationship. Combined with fun activities, you and your partner will be encouraged to make memories together, too.

Skills and Tools

One of the best things about couples therapy is that you and your partner will learn new ways to communicate that add up to a stronger bond. Many therapists use workbooks from Dr. John Gottman’s Gottman Institute to help you practice these new skills and track positive results. If you and your partner are considering working on your intimate relationship and are hoping for better relationship skills, something as simple as attending a weekend workshop in conjunction with regular couples counseling can be a good idea. There, you’ll be able to pick up practical tools from a psychologist with experience in the field of marriage and relationships.

In the end, the right therapist will be able to work with you and your partner to identify your relationship dance and communication styles. If your relationship is important to you, you and your partner’s ability to see each other’s strengths above all things will make a big difference in your ability to work through issues and stressors like the pandemic. While no relationship is perfect, your willingness to work on your relationship is a great first step toward the future.