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All About Marriage Counselling

Updated: May 21, 2021

Wedding rings on wood - marriage counselling

It’s plain to see that many people are more stressed than ever – and this can make things difficult, even in strong relationships. It’s almost a cliché at the moment to point out that many marriages are experiencing hard times, but the truth is that all marriages take some element of work, even under the best circumstances.

Marriage counselling is not as taboo as it once was, and is a fairly common outlet for couples going through a rough patch. Here are some of the most common questions we get about how it works and who it applies to.

What Does Marriage Counselling Do?

Marriage counselling helps identify and isolate problematic systems and patterns in relationships, which are often hard to see when you’re in the middle of them. It relies heavily on research and evidence-based practices. The presence of a neutral third-party witness often helps people see their relationship from a different perspective.

Marriage counselling offers a way to better resolve conflicts and strengthen foundations, so that future conflicts are resolved more quickly and with a lessened negative effect. Often, it helps couples feel more connected, and many report that they understand each other’s values and opinions much better.

When Should We Seek Marriage Counselling?

This definitely varies for each couple, but some common recurring themes are decreased sexual interest or infidelity; an increase in fighting without resolution; difficulty communicating current and future needs and plans; perpetual gridlock on certain issues; difficulties in parenting; loss of friendship within the couple dynamic; an erosion of interests or values; and negative behaviours, like addiction or gambling. If something is interfering with marital happiness, counselling may be the solution. You can even start with a simple quiz like this.

Is Marriage Counselling Worth It?

They say that falling in love is easy, but staying there is hard. When you get married, you are choosing to commit to someone, through the best (and the worst) parts of the rest of your life – but nobody teaches you how to go through those things together. Marriage counselling is important because the relationship is a lifelong commitment, and you want it to be mutually positive for many years to come. It’s not a business arrangement that ends after an agreed time.

A lot of clients say that they don’t really know what’s happening in the sessions, but once they get home, things are generally better and easier to manage. Like a sudden magic trick. Often, they stick with it to ensure those results stay.

Is Marriage Counselling Covered By Insurance?

Yes! As we’ve mentioned before, we are registered professionals – which means most insurance plans cover our services. Depending on the company, you can direct bill (as we do), but otherwise you can submit the receipts to your insurance provider.

Is Marriage Counselling Free?

Unfortunately it is not, but the costs are usually covered by insurance. Read more on our blog about benefits.

Is Marriage Counselling Tax Deductible?

This is a bit of a grey area, as it depends on what province you live in. In Alberta, psychologist services are considered a tax-deductible medical expense, but someone who is solely a marriage and family therapist is not. Follow the information on the Government of Canada site for more information.

How Many Marriage Counselling Sessions Will Be Needed?

This varies quite a bit from one couple to another. If the sessions are in response to a big crisis, they will need more than if it is simply some maintenance issues. It’s very difficult to give even a ballpark figure.

Will Marriage Counselling Help Save My Marriage?

The key word here is “help”. Counselling is just one part of a marriage success strategy that involves additional effort on the part of both spouses. If you are willing to put the work in, take the counsellor’s advice, and make things better, you will have much different results than if you have already made up your mind beforehand about ending the relationship. We do good work, but we can’t perform miracles!

Why Does Marriage Counselling Fail?

The biggest reason that people don’t get the results they want is that they don’t put in the necessary effort, but it may also come down to a lack of financial resources, or a complete disconnection of goals and communication on one side of the relationship. Mutual respect and motivation are minimum requirements for success. You can read more about getting the most out of therapy sessions here.

How Does Marriage Counselling Work?

The process typically starts with an assessment of the relationship, either informal or formal. One of our favourite methods for this is the Gottman Relationship Checkup, based on the work of Drs. John and Julie Gottman. They have a high focus on building foundations for strong marriages, and the Checkup includes an interview with both members of the couple and a psychologist, as well as an online assessment.

Next is when the therapist meets with each person individually, if they would like to do that. This includes getting information on previous relationships, and some family history in order to build a better context database.

Step 3 is where we roll up our sleeves, in order to work on skills-based content that has been discovered during the previous assessment phase. After that, it’s time to enter into more active treatment, based on any “red flags” we’ve found – this entails heavy work in those areas, leading to corrections and, hopefully, lasting changes and a healthy relationship.

If you would like to talk to us about Marriage Counselling (or any other therapy in Calgary) then reach out today.

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