Counseling for Couples

Your relationship isn’t over.

Let’s talk about rebuilding trust and intimacy to strengthen your bond.

It’s time to stop getting your relationship advice from Buzzfeed. If you want real strategies that actually work for restoring trust, deepening intimacy, and building confidence with your partner, you might be ready for couples therapy. This type of therapy can be helpful for all types of relationship situations, including but not limited to heterosexual relationships, LGBTQIA+ relationships, marriages, non-monogamous / open relationships, polyamorous relationships, and more. Further, River Oaks Psychology is committed to honoring the diversity of all people in relationships, holding space for the experiences of people who have partners of a different race, ethnicity, gender, ability, religion, or other difference.

Exploring the complex dynamics of your relationship in a non-judgmental space can be transformative for people because it often reveals inner truths, emotional needs, and the reasons why you feel stuck. You might be part of a long-term marriage or maybe you are dating and thinking about living together. You may be considering separation or trying to rebuild trust and heal from an act of unfaithfulness. You might be struggling with infertility or may be overwhelmed by parenting disagreements. There are endless possibilities for what you and your partner might be experiencing but the bottom line is that no relationship is perfect and sometimes professional support from an unbiased therapist is needed to strengthen your connection to each other.

Together, you and your therapist will discover what works well in the relationship, what’s not working, and how to develop solutions for even the most stressful life problems. We understand that life is not always easy and circumstances like job changes, loss, illness, addiction, finances, pregnancy, parenting, affairs, sexual concerns, trauma, and countless other stressors can diminish the “spark” that initially created attraction. We’re here to help you fall in love all over again.

Therapy can help couples by:

  • Developing solutions to problems that interfere with relationship trust and intimacy
  • Addressing problems related to interpersonal manipulation or controlling behaviors
  • Learning how to communicate or speak up in healthy ways to get your needs met
  • Addressing barriers to intimacy, such as sexual concerns or problems achieving a positive sex life
  • Understanding different “love languages” and how you give and receive love in the best ways
  • Exploring and resolving disagreements on the decision to have children or managing parenthood
  • Strengthening skills for problem-solving, decision-making, and the balancing of multiple roles
  • Exploring decisions to be married, to remain unmarried, or to be in an open relationship
  • Allowing for a consistent, non-judgmental space for both partners to express themselves
  • Addressing the self-esteem of one or both partners and how it’s impacting the relationship
  • Confronting situational problems impacting the relationship, such as finances or parenting stress
  • Processing thoughts and feelings related to unfaithfulness, broken trust, or forgiveness
  • Addressing problems related to domestic violence, harassment, abuse, or other harmful behaviors
  • Learning the differences between signs of a toxic relationship and signs of a healthy relationship
  • Helping one or both partners understand their struggle with alcoholism or substance abuse
  • Processing thoughts and feelings related to differences in each partner’s family of origin
  • Confronting issues related to the independent lives of each partner, including their work life or social life
  • Helping one or both partners understand how to support each other’s overall life goals
  • Allowing space for partners to explore difficult decisions, such as job changes, housing changes, and more
  • Assessing for early signs of emotional detachment, growing resentment, or long-term faithfulness
  • Learning how the attachment style of one or both partners may be impacting the relationship
  • Exploring relationship problems that surface due to major life changes, grief, chronic illness, and more
  • Discovering the patterns or underlying emotional stress that cause problems for one or both partners
  • Using specific tools like mindfulness, role-play, skill building, and others to help strengthen bonds
  • Building confidence in the strength of the relationship and restoring hope for a future together

We can help couples answer:

  • Why don’t we enjoy the things that we used to enjoy together?
  • Why does it seem like we can never get along anymore?
  • Why does it feel like my partner is pulling away?
  • How can I get my partner to understand me better?
  • How can I communicate my real feelings to my partner?
  • Why does it feel like we can never agree on anything?
  • Why does my partner always disagree or undermine my parenting?
  • How can I better support my partner experiencing anxiety or depression?
  • Why is it so hard for my partner to support my life dreams?
  • How can I get my partner to understand that I don’t want to have children?
  • Why does it feel like we can never achieve a positive sex life?
  • How can we build our confidence and self-esteem together?
  • How can we learn to accept each other for our flaws and differences?
  • How can my partner and I learn to give each other space when we need it?
  • How can I support my partner through alcoholism or substance use?
  • Why did my partner be unfaithful to me when we love each other so much?
  • What are the specific issues or recurring themes that cause us to feel unhappy?
  • How can my partner and I better understand our personality differences?
  • How can we cope with the differences among our families of origin?
  • How can my partner and I learn to forgive each other for our past mistakes?

How do we know if we need couples therapy?

For most people, the decision to begin couples therapy derives from the unhappiness of one or both partners. Yet, many people in couples therapy report that their unhappiness began several months – or years – before they actually reached out to us for an appointment. This leads us to wonder, why wait? We want all couples to know that you don’t have to wait until you hit “rock bottom” before beginning couples therapy. In fact, many couples view therapy as a preventive health measure to deepen their intimacy or to guard against stress from upcoming life changes.

We want you to remember that therapy is controlled by you – it is your time, your space, your session, and your opportunity to use the support from your therapist in whatever way feels most helpful. Sometimes there is no identified “problem,” in which case couples therapy can be a space for learning more about each other, better understanding each other’s needs, discussing sensitive topics in a safe place, or learning new skills to enhancing empathy and compassion toward one another.

Therefore, if you are debating whether or not therapy is necessary, remember there is no need to reach a certain unhappiness threshold in order for therapy to be helpful.

Some signs that may indicate a need for counseling include:

  • Frequent fighting or ongoing arguments among each other with little hope for resolution
  • Constantly moving through cycles of breaking up, getting back together, breaking up, etc.
  • Ongoing feelings of jealousy, panic, anger, or resentment toward each other
  • Experiencing unfaithfulness (cheating, having an affair, or otherwise being unfaithful)
  • Noticing more and more disconnection and emotional detachment from each other
  • Frequent criticism among each other or instances of disrespect, hostility, or lack of empathy
  • Feeling anxious, depressed, irritable or generally upset about the relationship
  • Making quick decisions on the relationship without fully exploring thoughts and feelings
  • Socially withdrawing from friends or family due to problems in the relationship
  • Continuing to feel like the relationship is causing stress in your life without a clear plan for solutions
  • Reconsidering your role in the relationship or beginning to wonder whether the relationship will last
  • Trouble sleeping, feeling abnormally fatigued, generally drained due to the relationship problems
  • Unable to tolerate the emotional pain caused by the relationship which is interfering with forgiveness
  • Reduced ability to solve problems in the relationship or feeling incapable of moving forward
  • Frequently talking negatively about each other or making threats about leaving one another
  • Struggling with balancing responsibilities that are negatively impacting the relationship
  • Disagreements on parenting styles, family conflicts, the decision to have children or to get married
  • Patterns of manipulation, distrust, reduced vulnerability, lack of intimacy, or sexual problems
  • Alcoholism or substance use disorders that are impacting the health of the relationship
  • Any signs of domestic violence, abuse, harassment, or desires to hurt one another
  • Feeling emotionally overwhelmed by any kind of stress that is causing friction in the relationship
  • Missing the “spark” that initially created attraction among each other and wanting it to be restored

Couples and Telehealth

We love telehealth and list many benefits on our page, Why Online Therapy.

But there is another advantage of telehealth specifically for couples:  you and your partner do not need to be in the same location to both participate in video sessions with your therapist.  Our secure video therapy platform allows multiple people to access the video sessions from separate digital devices. Therefore, it’s not necessary for you and your partner to be sitting on the same couch sharing one digital-screen together. This is perfect for couples who are taking a break from living together, couples with opposite work schedules, or couples who simply prefer to sit alone during sessions.

How does Informed Consent work for couples?

For couples therapy, both partners will need to electronically sign our Informed Consent document. However, to comply with clinical record protocols, we can only list one partner as “the patient” in our documentation. If using insurance, the partner serving as the patient will provide their individual insurance plan information. We are unable to split treatment costs between multiple people or multiple insurance plans.

Please note that it’s common for therapists to hold a “no secrets” policy between two partners in couples therapy. This means that one partner in the relationship cannot reveal information privately to the therapist and ask for that information to be hidden from the other partner. Most therapists feel this undermines the process and does not lead to effective outcomes.

In addition, neither couples therapy or family therapy is appropriate when there are problems interfering with the process, such as intentional hostility or abuse, untreated addictions, or other concerns directly interfering with therapy. While arguments or intense emotions are allowable and may occur in couples therapy, both partners should be interested in treatment and demonstrate a willingness to cooperate together.

Most importantly, your therapist can talk to you more specifically about their therapeutic style and what will work best for you and your partner.