10 Signs You Need Couples Counseling

Written by Erika Boissiere, MFT of The Relationship Institute of San Francisco.


Is it time for us to consider couples counseling?

Everyone has his or her own way of determining when it is time to seek couples counseling. Wherever you are in your relationship, here are the Top 10 Signs that it might be time to seek professional help.

You’re unhappy in your relationship.

Plain and simple – you are unhappy. You have no interest in talking to your partner, consistency tune them out, or hide at work to avoid returning home and seeing them. The weekends together seem long and there are a lot of moments where you wonder how you got to this place.

You are no longer attracted to your partner nor do you have interest in sex with them.

No matter how much we convince ourselves that sex is not important, the truth is, sex is an essential part of a healthy committed relationship. Through sex we connect at an intimate level and share an experience that fosters closeness and human intimacy. Without sexual intimacy, you and your partner are best friends who share a household together. If that is okay with both of you, then perhaps counseling isn’t needed. However, if one partner wants to have sex and the other doesn’t, it might be time to discuss the situation with a professional.

You fundamentally don’t trust your partner.

You may have experienced infidelity or other events that have caused you to lose trust in your partner. If you are checking their phone, reading their email, or constantly asking, “Who were you with?” – then you have trust issues and counseling can help.

You are considering a divorce.

If you are considering separating from or divorcing your partner, now may be the time to give counseling a try. In some cases, the only reason that a couple ultimately chooses to stay together is because they sought counseling for help. Often those who leave one relationship to enter another without working through the underlying issues through counseling will again encounter similar issues from partner to partner. Consider working on the current relationship before calling this one quits.

You have disdain for your partner.

You dislike your partner, have contempt for them, and often find yourself rolling your eyes at them. You didn’t always have these feelings towards your partner, but something along the way has gone awry. Couples counseling can help identify what is creating this situation and if there is an opportunity to make it right.

Every disagreement turns into an argument.

Your fighting marathon continues day after day and you are completely exhausted. If you are fighting over trivial matters, but are not able to get to the resolution phase, it might be time to seek a couples therapist. Disagreements are normal, however, constant fighting is not.

You are having an affair.

Infidelity can be a relationship killer. If you are having an affair, and want to either end the affair or tell your partner about it, one approach is to consider consulting with a couples’ therapist. There are many reasons why people have affairs. Couples counseling can help discover what is really going on in your relationship and help things to change.

You have very different life dreams

You want a baby; your wife doesn’t. You want to move out of the city, but your partner doesn’t. You want to sail around the world, and your partner is a workaholic. Could your life dreams and aspirations be more different?  If you want to continue in this relationship, it is critical to address – either in therapy or between yourselves, how you will navigate major life decisions. If you do not find a way to bridge this gap, the difference in your visions will likely cause resentment as one partner may feel as if their dreams do not matter.

Family trouble.

Do you despise your mother-in-law, father-in-law, or in-laws in general?  Do you dread spending time with them or think they should just mind their own business? If you and your partner are fighting consistency about your in-laws, it’s time to consider sorting things out, once and for all.

Relationship tune-up.

You love your partner, but things just feel off. Your sex life has dwindled, your responsibilities have increased, or maybe you are just not the same person you were five years ago. Something is fundamentally different, and you feel stuck. Couples therapy can provide a safe place to address what is going on within you and your relationship and get things back on track.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Anxiety

Research shows that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is usually the most effective option for the treatment of anxiety and related disorders. This is because CBT addresses the patterns of thoughts that lead to anxious feelings and subsequent behaviors. CBT can help you discover the underlying causes of your worry and fear, develop relaxation strategies and look at situations in a new, less anxiety provoking way. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy gives you the tools to overcome anxiety that you can use for a lifetime.

There are a number of different anxiety disorders and each person is unique, so therapy should be tailored to your specific symptoms and concerns. For example, during the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder, treatment will be different than the treatment for panic attacks. The length of therapy will also depend on the type and severity of your anxiety disorder. Fortunately, CBT for anxiety is usually short-term and focused. According to the American Psychological Association, many people improve significantly within 8 to 10 sessions when working with a professional that treats anxiety and related conditions.

There are many different types of therapy used to treat anxiety, but the leading approach is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Some individuals choose to explore a combination of therapy and medication management. However, this is a personal decision and is addressed on a case-by-case basis.

In San Francisco and the Silicon Valley (Menlo Park, Palo Alto, San Jose etc.) there are many mental health professionals. It is important that you find a specialist in the treatment of anxiety that utilizes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and can connect you with additional resources, such as a medical doctor, if needed.

During your first visits, your therapist or other mental health professional should be assessing for the presence of other disorders that may be contributing or exacerbating your anxiety, such as ADHD. Anxiety, depression, and adult ADHD,  can severely impact an individuals work performance and relationships.