When you choose to go to therapy, you have opened a door to a myriad of possibilities for growth. You get to have control in your therapist’s office; you can talk about whatever you want, and work through the issues that you decide are important. For a lot of people in therapy, the conversations turn toward resolving relationship issues. Having quality relationships can make a difference in improving anxiety and depression, achieving personal goals, and cultivating greater meaning and gratitude in one’s life. Unfortunately, a toxic relationship doesn’t provide these benefits and can send you into a downward spiral of negativity and self-doubt.
How Therapy Helps Relationship Issues
Perhaps your relationship isn’t toxic, but it’s not as fulfilling as you would like it to be. If you’ve ever wondered how therapy can help relationship issues, try considering these points:
- Your therapist can provide feedback as an objective third party. When you love and care for someone deeply, it’s difficult to see the relationship clearly at times. Processing the relationship in therapy can lead to greater self-awareness of the issues you need to work on.
- Considering your relationship values. This is something I often process in therapy sessions with people. Your values ground you; try making a list of what you value in a relationship, then reflect. Does your partner practice these values? Do you practice them yourself? (For example, don’t expect good communication if you can’t reciprocate).
- Developing effective communication skills. Communication issues are common in relationships. If you don’t take time to process your communication patterns, it can be difficult to notice where you and your partner are going wrong. Maybe you know exactly what the problem is, but you don’t know how to resolve it. Therapists are trained to help—I teach specific techniques to use to improve communication in relationships.
- Discovering what your vulnerabilities are in the relationship. Your vulnerabilities are difficult to talk about. You may be unaware of what they are, or you are unwilling to talk about them. Therapy can help with this. Maybe you have difficulty with trust and opening up authentically, which is halting the growth in your relationship. Maybe you believe you “aren’t good enough,” and it makes you unable to ask for what you need in your relationship. Whatever the issue is, it can be improved upon!
- Processing intimacy and sex in a safe space. Intimacy and sex are difficult topics to discuss. They are 100% okay to bring up in therapy. Trust me, your therapist has probably heard it before and wants to help you. Not interested in sex? Have a partner who’s not interested in sex (for months, years, etc.)? Unable to orgasm? Unable to connect emotionally, and can only express intimacy physically? We can help!
- Venting toward growth. I remember recently sitting in Perks Café on Elmwood Ave in Buffalo with a friend. We were both doing a little healthy venting about our relationships, which is perfectly fine. However, I remember going home and not doing anything to change my circumstances. This is a common issue called “triangulation,” which is when you talk to a third party about all of your relationship issues, soothe that anger/anxiety, and then continue on in your relationship without making any progress on those issues. You are consistently talking to a friend about your relationships issues instead of talking to your partner. Venting to a therapist can be different than venting to a friend because you can make a solid plan for growth in your relationship afterward. Therapists are also trained in ways that friends are not; and we won’t just tell you what you want to hear, which friends often do (out of love, of course!).
- Creating goals for the future. It can be hard to find balance while thinking about the future in a relationship. It’s important to work on staying present in the relationship, while also making goals for the future, and recognizing that these goals may change as your relationship matures. Therapy is a safe place where you have the time to think, process, and see yourself moving forward.
Explore What’s Next Can Help With Relationship Issues
It’s also important to note that all therapists are different, and some may not specialize in certain relationship issues. At Explore What’s Next, every therapist can work with you on relationship issues. You can set up a complimentary initial consultation and see if the therapist you are considering fits your specific needs.
Christine Frank, LMSW
Christine understands what it’s like when you’re trying your hardest and an invisible hand is holding you back. It doesn’t mean you’re weak, or stupid, or unworthy of good things—it just means you could use some help. It helps to connect with someone who knows that your stories are worth listening to. Christine will hear your story. She’s a great listener.
Christine is easy-going, friendly, empathetic, non-judgmental. She’s funny and real in a down to earth way. She loves working with pre-teens, teenagers, and young adults to help them move through those difficult life transitions where a person can feel lost.
With Christine’s guidance and encouragement, you can take the first step to a happier, healthier life.
716.430.4611 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo of Morro Bay Rock and Beach By: Stephen O’Bryan