Navigating Couples Therapy: Debunking Myths and Uncovering Benefits

This blog will explore how to separate myth from reality, delving into some of the common misperceptions surrounding couples counseling and highlighting some of its forgotten benefits. With the right information, individuals can determine whether couples therapy is a suitable solution for their relationship.


Dr. Bryan O. Rojas-Araúz & Dr. Darien Combs

8/7/20236 min read

Navigating relationships can be a complex endeavor, and often couples find themselves facing challenges that feel impossible to overcome. To navigate these obstacles couples may seek therapeutic guidance. Yet, there are many enduring myths about couple’s therapy that may prevent partners from seeking help. This blog will explore how to separate myth from reality, delving into some of the common misperceptions surrounding couples counseling and highlighting some of its benefits. With the right information, individuals can determine whether couples therapy is a suitable solution for their relationship. Hear it from providers that have been both the clients and the clinicians.

This blog is being co-authored by Dr. Darien, we are both licensed psychologists and couple therapists. We are married and, in a lifetime, committed relationship. Couples therapy is a wonderful resource for people facing challenges and difficulties in their relationship. We have been engaged in our own therapy as a couple and will share some of our own personal experiences (yes, even therapists benefit from therapy!). However, there are many myths and misconceptions about couples therapy that can deter people from seeking help or prevent them from gaining the most out of the experience.

Here we list some common couples therapy myths and debunk them:

1. Couples Therapy is a Weakness: Seeking therapy is a sign of strength and vulnerability, not weakness. It takes courage to acknowledge issues and work on them together with a trained professional.

A few years into our dating relationship, we had hit a roadblock in our relationship, and we struggled with communication, both of us were not feeling heard and seen by the other. We were both hesitant to try couples therapy, but we really wanted to make our relationship work and we were determined to make improvements, even if it meant inviting the help of a therapist. We went to two different therapists initially to find the best fit for us. We were able to find someone who even though not our perfect idea of who we wanted was able to teach us to better show up for one another.

2. Couples Therapy is Only for Failing Relationships or a Last Resort: Couples therapy is often seen as a last resort for couples in crisis, but this doesn’t have to be the case. One of the most prevalent myths is that couples therapy is only for people on the verge of divorce or in serious trouble. The truth is, engaging in couples therapy can be beneficial before reaching a breaking point and can help couples deepen their sense of connection and understanding at any stage of a relationship. Couples therapy doesn't have to be a last resort; rather, it can be a preventative measure to help strengthen communication, build/repair trust, increase understanding, and enhance connection. Couples therapy is an opportunity to learn new relationship skills and strengthen or rekindle the bond. It can also be used as a support when embarking on the next stage of a healthy relationship such as moving in together, marriage, or parenting. When it comes to exploring changes in the relationship we’ll dive into each of this in later blogs.

When we began couples therapy it was early on in our relationship. We were grateful we did couples therapy when we did. Our therapist at the time said “I’m glad you are here with a 'young love' sometimes couples come in with years of damage to one another thinking something magical will happen without their forgiving or understanding of one another” We were able to take accountability and heal from our past difficulties with communication and understanding that our conflict was often not about each other but often about our histories and past relationships. We were also able to learn proactive tools for how to manage challenges in the future and overall strengthen our bond. We recommend couples therapy to anyone at any stage of their relationship. You don’t get a manual on how best to navigate relationships –couples therapy can help provide guidance and support. It is also okay to return to couples therapy over time. We have clients take breaks and return to therapy when it feel necessary.

3. Therapy is Only for Fixing Problems: While addressing and resolving conflicts is an important aspect of couples therapy, therapy can also be a space to enhance understanding, improve communication, and build a stronger foundation for the relationship. Imagine a world where you both get to communicate, connect, and be understood in ways that felt impossible before. It may sound daunting at first, but it is actually catered to help each individual emotionally grow while having the unique understanding of their partner’s feelings, experience and point of view. With counseling sessions tailored specifically around your relationship strengths and weaknesses. We get to create a space for passionate discussions with the guidance of an experienced professional.

Couples therapy helped us strengthen our understanding of each other and deepen our bond. In couples therapy, we learned tools to understand the origins of our conflicts and what was happening for each of us at a deeper level. We were then able to proactively choose how to proceed in conflict--take a break, come back to the conversation with structured communication techniques, or repair if we experienced ruptures. It taught us how to “keep the main thing the main thing” and identify our “ugly dace” or the core wounds that seemed to be at the center of every argument whether we knew it or not.

4. The Therapist Will Take Sides: A skilled couples therapist is neutral and unbiased. In couples therapy, the partnership is the focus of the therapeutic process. The therapist's intention is to gain a holistic understanding of all partners' points-of-view and to assist in facilitating constructive dialogue between all the members of the relationship. Showing preference towards one party would be detrimental to the therapeutic journey.

Our therapist was deeply knowledgeable in attending to our individual worries and discerning both of our viewpoints. Through their guidance, we learned how to articulate our worries, to lend an ear to the other, and to expand our understanding of each other. It is also important to name therapist are not able to read minds and might get it wrong from time to time; however, good therapist are open to receiving feedback and we are here truly to help.

5. The Therapist Will Tell Us Whether to Stay Together or Breakup: A therapist's role is not to make decisions for the couple. Instead, the therapist will help the couple explore their feelings, thoughts, and concerns, empowering them to make informed decisions about their relationship and what is best for each partner. It’s important to note that there are no guarantees in therapy. Couples therapy depends on the commitment and effort both partners put into the process, the love and forgiveness both still have for one. another. Breaking up can be at times the healthiest choice for a relationship.

In our experience, it's not that all of your problems or conflicts will go away after couples therapy. Conflict in relationships is normal, we would argue even healthy. However, couples therapy can give you the tools to better handle conflict. It can teach you how to “fight fair” and communicate your needs while creating space for the needs of your beloved. For us the tools we learned in couples therapy will serve us for the rest of our lives. After we finished, we also agreed that we could return to couples therapy at any time in the future if needing a “tune up” or wanting to learn new skills. A few years after couples therapy, because of the improvements in our communication and the deepening of our bond and understanding of one another, we decided to commit our lives to each other and get married.

Some take home messages, each relationship is unique and couples therapy can be a great resource when you feel stuck in your relationship and can’t move forward. Couples therapy can enhance communication, deepen understanding, and improve overall satisfaction in a relationship. It’s helpful to keep an open mind and be willing to actively participate in the process. You will only get what you put into the relationship.

If you feel that something is not working for you and/or your partner, it’s important to communicate to your therapist what’s not working. If you feel that it continues to not feel like you are making progress and/or the therapist is not a good fit, it is okay to look for another therapist or ask for a referral. We are not all the same and finding the right fit can make the world of difference in your experience.

If you are considering couples therapy, we hope you try it! We will be releasing a blog per month on couples and love. So, see you soon. Meanwhile we hope this has been helpful in deciding if couples therapy is right for you and challenging some of the myths we often hear as providers.