Identity Counseling Psychology is a counseling and psychotherapy practice in Ann Arbor, Michigan offering therapy services for couples, families, children, adolescents and adults. The therapists at IDENTITY specialize in both individual counseling for relationship issues as well as couples therapy, also known as marriage counseling or relationship counseling. Danielle Nicholls-Slovinski, LMSW, IMH-E(IV) is the only IDENTITY clinician providing couples therapy at this time. To learn more about Danielle and her background, or to schedule a couples therapy appointment, check out Danielle’s clinical profile, or contact us today.

What Is Couples Therapy?

Couples therapy is a form of psychotherapy that supports people in romantic relationships. This form of counseling involves both partners meeting together with a licensed mental health professional, such as a therapist, counselor or psychologist, with a background and training in working with couples. The goal of couples therapy is to help couples gain insight into their relationships, work through issues, resolve conflicts in a healthy way, improve communication, and develop a better understanding of their partner. 

Couples therapy is typically a short-term form of treatment, but the amount of sessions can vary depending on both the approach of the therapist and the needs and goals of the couple. The focus in counseling sessions is the relationship itself, rather than each partner individually. However, each partner also works on self-improvement and self-awareness throughout couples therapy treatment, allowing them to become a better partner. 

Who Is Couples Counseling For?

Couples counseling can be beneficial for any romantic partners who are looking to function better as a pair. Any kind of relationship can be worked on in couples therapy, regardless of the label, level of commitment, sexuality, age, race, or religion of those involved. Couples counseling can be effective to treat both long-term and short-term problems. 

Relationship therapy patients could be…

  • An engaged couple
  • A married couple
  • Life partners
  • Two people who are seriously dating 

Couples may seek counseling because…

  • They would like to maintain a healthy relationship
  • They want to avoid future issues
  • There is a serious conflict that they need to work through
  • They are going through a period of transition
  • They are going through a period of increased stress
  • They are considering separation
  • They have already decided to separate and want to end their relationship on respectful terms

Issues worked on in couples therapy might include…

  • Anger management
  • Chronic health problems or adjustment to illness 
  • Communication
  • Emotional distance
  • Financial problems 
  • Frequent conflict or arguing 
  • Gambling
  • Infertility 
  • Infidelity
  • LGBTQ+ relationship related concerns 
  • Major life changes
  • Parenting 
  • Power struggles
  • Religious differences
  • Sexual difficulties 
  • Stress
  • Substance abuse and addiction

What to Expect From Couples Therapy

Couples therapy is generally held once a week, and usually begins with interview questions regarding the family, background, and values of each partner, as well as the history of the relationship. If the couple comes to therapy in the middle of a crisis, the therapist may decide to use the initial sessions for crisis intervention. If there is no clear focus issue, the therapist will then assist the couple in identifying the issues that will be explored in treatment, creating a structured plan and goals. 

During treatment, the therapist will help the couple gain insight into their relationship dynamics, making sure each partner understands their role in dysfunctional interactions and patterns. Then, the therapist will work with the couple to change negative behaviors and communication styles. Homework may be assigned so that couples can practice applying the skills and tools learned in therapy in their daily lives.

In therapy, couples may work on…

  • Discussing differences in a rational way 
  • Identifying and understanding sources of conflict 
  • Perceiving the relationship in a realistic way
  • Pinpointing problems without assigning blame
  • Problem-solving 
  • Acknowledging the good and bad parts of the relationship 

A good couples therapist will…

  • Have a background in working with couples
  • Not take sides
  • Help couples develop a plan
  • Show compassion to both partners
  • Allow each partner to speak without interruption
  • Maintain control during intense moments or arguments
  • Encourage open communication
  • Make sure both partners feel comfortable and heard
  • Share evidence-based tools and techniques 

What Are the Benefits of Couples Therapy?

Couples therapy has proven to be an effective and beneficial tool for many couples who are both struggling in their relationships or looking to maintain their healthy relationships. Couples counseling tends to be the most helpful when both partners are committed to improving their relationship and dedicated to sticking to their treatment plan. 

For more serious issues like domestic violence or abuse, couples counseling may not be adequate, and contacting emergency or crisis support, such as the police or a local shelter, may be a better option. If both partners are motivated to seek professional help for issues in their relationship that are not urgent and for which neither partner is in fear for their safety, couples counseling is a great option to pursue. 

Couples therapy can help partners…

  • Address expectations for the relationship
  • Become better listeners 
  • Better understand each other
  • Develop healthy communication skills
  • Develop effective problem-solving skills
  • Gain insight into relational patterns
  • Grow individually and as a pair 
  • Identify positive qualities in one another 
  • Increase emotional expression and vulnerability 
  • Increase respect for one another 
  • Live in the present moment 
  • Regain a sense of excitement in the relationship
  • Restore feelings of closeness 
  • Strengthen bonds 
  • Support one another 

How Can IDENTITY Help?

Identity Counseling Psychology is a counseling and psychotherapy practice in Ann Arbor, Michigan that offers both individual therapy and couples therapy for relationship issues. If you live in the Ann Arbor area and are struggling in your relationship, you may benefit from the help of a mental health professional who is experienced in working with couples. Danielle Nicholls-Slovinski, LMSW, IMH-E(IV) offers couples therapy at our Ann Arbor practice and is passionate about helping couples work through conflicts, communicate effectively, and reach their relationship goals. Check out Danielle’s profile to learn more, and contact us today to schedule an intake.