Relationship counseling is the process of counseling the parties of a human relationship in an effort to recognize, and to better manage or reconcile, troublesome differences and repeating patterns of stress upon the relationship. The relationship involved may be between members of a family or a couple (see also family therapy), employees or employers in a workplace, or between a professional and a client.
Couple’s therapy (or relationship therapy) is a subset of relationship therapy. It may differ from other forms of relationship counseling in various regards including its duration. Short term counseling may be between 1 to 3 sessions whereas long term couples therapy may be between 12 and 24 sessions. An exception is brief or solution focused couples therapy. In addition, counseling tends to be more ‘here and now’ and new coping strategies the outcome. Couples therapy is more about seemingly intractable problems with a relationship history, where emotions are the target and the agent of change.
Marriage counseling or marital therapy can refer to either or some combination of the above.
The methods may differ in other ways as well, but the differences may indicate more about the counselor/therapist’s way of working than the title given to their process. Both methods also can be acquired for no charge, depending on your needs. For more information about getting the care that may be required, one should make a call to a local hospital or healthcare professional.
Marriage counseling is a type of psychotherapy. Marriage counseling helps couples of all types recognize and resolve conflicts and improve their relationships. Through marriage counseling, you can make thoughtful decisions about rebuilding your relationship or going your separate ways.
Marriage counseling is often provided by licensed therapists known as marriage and family therapists. These therapists have graduate or postgraduate degrees — and many choose to become credentialed by AAMFT (American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy)
Marriage counseling is often short term. Marriage counseling typically includes both partners, but sometimes one partner chooses to work with a therapist alone. The specific treatment plan depends on the situation.
Marriage rates supposedly are on the decline. While it’s an oft-repeated statistic that 50 percent of first marriages end in divorce, that number has remained unchanged for the past 30 years. Divorce rates also vary with the partners’ level of education, religious beliefs, and many other factors.
But when divorce does happen, it results in difficulties for adults as well as children. For adults, divorce can be one of life’s most stressful life events. The decision to divorce often is met with ambivalence and uncertainty about the future. If children are involved, they may experience negative effects such as denial, feelings of abandonment, anger, blame, guilt, preoccupation with reconciliation, and acting out.
It wasn’t until the 1950s that therapists began treating psychological problems in the context of the family. Relationship counseling as a discrete, professional service is thus a recent phenomenon. Until the late 20th century, the work of relationship counseling was informally fulfilled by close friends, family members, or local religious leaders. Psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors and social workers have historically dealt primarily with individual psychological problems in a medical and psychoanalytic framework. In many less technologically advanced cultures around the world today, the institution of family, the village or group elders fulfil the work of relationship counseling. Today marriage mentoring mirrors those cultures.
With increasing modernization or westernization in many parts of the world and the continuous shift towards isolated nuclear families the trend is towards trained and accredited relationship counselors or couple therapists. Sometimes volunteers are trained by either the Government or social service institutions to help those who are in need of family or marital counseling. Many communities and government departments have their own team of trained voluntary and professional relationship counselors. Similar services are operated by many universities and colleges, sometimes staffed by volunteers from among the student peer group. Some large companies maintain a full-time professional counseling staff to facilitate smoother interactions between corporate employees, to minimize the negative effects that personal difficulties might have on work performance.
Increasingly there is a trend toward professional certification and government registration of these services. This is in part due to the presence of duty of care issues and the consequences of the counselor or therapist’s services being provided in a fiduciary relationship.See also alienation of affection.