Couples Counseling: A Therapists Guide to Success

Couples counseling can be a transformative experience for both partners, helping them navigate the ups and downs of their relationship and build a stronger, more fulfilling connection. As a therapist, guiding couples through this process can be incredibly rewarding, but it also requires skill, patience, and a deep understanding of the unique challenges that couples face. In this guide, we’ll explore the principles and techniques that can help therapists facilitate transformational couples counseling and support their clients on the journey to a healthier, happier relationship.

What is couples counseling?

Couples counseling, also known as marriage counseling (you will also like to read this “How Marriage Counseling Can Restore Your Relationship“) or couples therapy, is a type of psychotherapy that is designed to help couples resolve conflicts and improve their relationship. Couples seeking counseling can be beneficial for relationship challenges, as it can aid in rebuilding and strengthening the relationship. This task is typically conducted by a licensed counselor that specializes in working with couples. 


What counseling methods are used for couples in telehealth?

Online couples counseling is a growing trend in modern therapy. It is a convenient and flexible option for couples who may not have access to traditional face-to-face therapy due to location, time, or other barriers. While each therapist may vary in approach and technique, three therapy techniques are primarily used to help couples improve their relationship.

The most popular technique used is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT focuses on identifying and challenging negative thought patterns and behaviors that may be causing problems in the relationship. This technique is often used in online sessions because it can be easily adapted within the virtual environment. CBT is highly effective in addressing specific relationship issues, such as communication problems, trust issues, and conflict resolution. Another primary use of CBT is it helps couples identify negative patterns. In return helping each individual develop more positive and effective ways of interacting with each other.

Another technique used in the virtual setting is Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT). EFT is a form of therapy that focuses on the emotional connection between partners. It aims to help couples improve their emotional bond by fostering a sense of safety, security, and trust in the relationship. EFT is often used during online sessions because it can be effective in addressing issues related to intimacy. By helping partners understand each other’s emotions and needs, EFT can help them develop a deeper, more fulfilling relationship.

A third technique used in online couples counseling is Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT). SFBT is a goal-oriented therapy that focuses on identifying solutions rather than dwelling on problems. This technique is often used because it can be effective in addressing specific issues and promoting positive change. SFBT can help couples identify their strengths and resources and develop strategies for overcoming obstacles in their relationship. By focusing on solutions rather than problems, SFBT can help couples achieve their goals and improve their relationship in a relatively short period of time.

While each technique has its strengths and limitations, the goal of online couples counseling is to help couples develop effective strategies for addressing their unique challenges and building a stronger, healthier relationship. Online couples counseling is a viable option for couples who are seeking to improve their relationship. Your therapists will use a range of techniques and tools to help you address specific issues.

Who is the best therapist for couples counseling near me?

About Megan Corrieri

MS, LPCC, LPC, NCC – Rated Frisco’s Best

Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor / Therapist, Nationally Certified Counselor

As a trained therapist with over 15 years of experience, I am dedicated to helping couples improve their relationship and achieve their goals. With my personalized approach and focus on building trust and communication, I can help you and your partner develop a stronger, healthier bond. Contact me today to schedule your first session and start your journey towards a better relationship.

Appointments available online via telehealth. Frisco, TX 75033


How does relationship counseling work?

Relationship counseling is a type of therapy that aims to help couples improve their relationship and resolve any issues or challenges that they may be facing. It is typically conducted by a licensed therapist like Megan who specializes in working with couples. During couples sessions, the therapist will work with both partners to identify problem areas and develop strategies for addressing them. This may involve exercises and techniques to improve communication, develop conflict resolution skills, and build emotional intimacy.

Improving communication

One of the most important aspects of relationship counseling is improving communication. A therapist will work with you as a couple to identify your specific communication styles and patterns. We have found that by taking an individualized approach to communication with the help of known therapeutic strategies like CBT. You as a couple will develop more effective ways of communicating with each other. By focusing on your strengths as a couple, we can together build a stronger, more positive relationship.

Purging negative patterns

Another important aspect of relationship counseling is to change the views of the relationship. Often, couples get stuck in negative thought patterns or beliefs about their relationship. Couples counseling works to break down these patterns and negative beliefs. By doing so, it helps couples reframe their thoughts and attitudes about their relationship. This is absolutely necessary to obtain a more positive and fulfilling relationship.

Finally, relationship counseling can help decrease emotional stress. This is done by providing a safe and supportive environment for couples to work through their issues both individually and together.

What can I expect from couples counseling?

The concept of couples counseling may seem straightforward, with a married couple seeking a therapist’s help to resolve their problems. However, the reality is far more complex than simply sitting on a sofa and airing grievances about one’s partner to a counselor. Expect to have active participation, openness, and dedication. This is a requirement of both partners in couples therapy to achieve meaningful and lasting outcomes. In truth, a successful relationship requires hard work, and couples counseling can be a valuable resource for developing the tools and skills needed in fostering the growth and development of a healthy relationship. Some of the exercises you may be asked to do in session:

  • Communication exercises are essential in helping couples improve their communication skills. Examples of these exercises may include role-play scenarios where each partner listens and responds to the other’s concerns, using “I” statements instead of “you” statements when expressing thoughts or feelings, and actively listening to each other without interrupting or assuming what the other is saying.
  • Role-playing exercises involve couples taking on different roles and practicing how to handle difficult situations in a positive and effective way. For instance, the couple may role-play a scenario where one partner expresses their emotions about a particular issue, while the other partner listens actively and validates their feelings. The exercise helps to promote effective communication, active listening, and empathy.
  • Problem-solving exercises may involve couples working together to identify solutions to specific issues or challenges that they are facing in their relationship. For example, the counselor may guide them through a process of brainstorming potential solutions, evaluating the pros and cons of each, and creating a plan to move forward. This exercise helps to promote effective problem-solving, compromise, and collaboration.
  • Emotional awareness exercises may involve helping couples identify their emotions and learn how to express them in a healthy and constructive way. For example, the counselor may guide them through exercises such as mindfulness meditation, deep breathing, or journaling to help them become more aware of their emotions and how to regulate them. This exercise helps to promote emotional intelligence, self-awareness, and self-regulation.
  • Trust-building exercises may involve couples engaging in activities that help build trust and deepen their emotional connection. For example, the counselor may guide them through exercises such as sharing personal experiences or feelings, practicing vulnerability, or engaging in activities that require mutual trust and cooperation. This exercise helps to promote openness, honesty, and a sense of safety and security in the relationship.
In addition to exercises done during counseling sessions, a couples counselor may also assign exercises for couples to do in between sessions. These exercises are designed to reinforce what was discussed during counseling sessions and to help couples practice new skills and behaviors. Here are some examples of exercises that a couples counselor may assign to a couple in between sessions:
  • Homework assignments: The counselor may assign homework to help the couple practice new skills or behaviors that were discussed during the counseling session. For example, the couple may be asked to practice active listening or expressing their emotions in a healthy way.

  • Communication exercises: The counselor may assign communication exercises for the couple to practice at home. These may involve activities such as writing love letters to each other, taking turns to talk and listen to each other, or practicing nonverbal communication.

  • Journaling: The counselor may ask the couple to keep a journal to document their thoughts and feelings about their relationship. This can help the couple gain insight into their relationship and can be a useful tool for tracking progress.

  • Date nights: The counselor may suggest that the couple plan regular date nights as a way to strengthen their relationship. This can involve engaging in activities that they both enjoy, such as cooking together or going for a walk.

  • Practice relaxation techniques: The counselor may suggest that the couple practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or mindfulness, to reduce stress and improve emotional regulation.

Overall, the exercises assigned by a couples counselor in between sessions are designed to help couples practice new skills and behaviors, reinforce what was discussed during the counseling session, and ultimately improve their relationship.


Does couples counseling really work?

Couples therapy has undergone significant changes over the past few decades. In the past, many marital counseling approaches had a success rate of less than 50%. With improvements in relationships often being short-lived, this was not very effective. However, with the emergence of new approaches to marriage counseling, such as the Gottman Approach, couples are now achieving much better results. An overall success rate of 98% is documented for those who complete up to date couples therapy programs. As a result of the success of couples therapy and other factors, the divorce rate, which peaked in 1981 in the United States has been steadily decreasing. This demonstrates that couples counseling really does work and can indeed save and strengthen a marriage.

What are the main issues couples counseling solves?

At Northstar Counseling & Therapy, we believe that couples therapy is an opportunity for partners to discuss and resolve issues related to various aspects of their relationship. The reasons why people seek couples therapy can vary greatly, but some of the most prominent reasons couples split are:

  1. Infidelity or affairs
  2. Communication breakdown and conflict
  3. Financial difficulties
  4. Growing apart over time
  5. Issues with sex and intimacy

Other reasons why couples seek therapy include:

  1. Family issues, such as conflicts with in-laws or blended family dynamics
  2. Health issues, either physical or mental, that put stress on the relationship
  3. Relationship roles and responsibilities, such as differing expectations for household duties or parenting styles
  4. Beliefs and values, including differences in religious or cultural backgrounds
  5. Work-related stress, such as long hours or conflicting schedules

When couples seek therapy, they often do so to address one or more of these issues, with the goal of improving their relationship and preventing a break up. Receiving counseling together can and will address each of these issues. 

What prevents couples counseling from being effective?

First and foremost, counseling can only be as effective as the individuals will for it to be effective. The old saying, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.” is a very good analogy to effectiveness of counseling with an unwilling individual. In order for therapy to be effective, you have to be willing to see and want the change. Other reasons couples counseling can be doomed from the start are:

  • Lack of commitment: Couples who are not fully committed to the counseling process may be less likely to make progress. If one partner is not willing to participate or makes little effort to engage in therapy, it can be challenging for the couple to make meaningful changes.

  • Poor communication: If communication patterns within the relationship are particularly negative or ineffective, it may be challenging for partners to express themselves clearly or understand one another during counseling sessions.

  • Unresolved issues outside of therapy: Couples may struggle to make progress in therapy if they have unresolved issues outside of the therapy room that are impacting their relationship, such as addiction or mental health issues.

  • Unrealistic expectations: Couples who enter therapy with unrealistic expectations may be disappointed when progress is slow or when issues continue to arise within the relationship. It’s important for couples to understand that therapy is not a quick fix, and that meaningful change takes time.

  • Lack of chemistry with the therapist: If one or both partners feel uncomfortable or untrusting of the therapist, it may be difficult for them to fully engage in the therapy process.


How do I get started with couples counseling?

If you and your partner are interested in starting couples counseling, here are some steps to get started:

  • Schedule an initial consultation: Northstar Counseling and Therapy offers a free 15 minute initial consultation or “meet and greet” session for couples to get to know their therapist and ask any questions they may have about the counseling process.

  • Discuss your goals: During your initial consultation or first therapy session, be sure to discuss your goals for couples counseling. This can include specific issues you would like to address or general goals for improving communication and strengthening your relationship.

  • Create a plan with your therapist: Based on your goals and needs, your therapist will work with you to create a customized plan for your couples counseling sessions. This may include specific exercises or homework assignments to help you work through your issues.

  • Attend counseling sessions: Regular attendance is important for making progress in couples counseling. Plan to attend each session with an open mind and a willingness to actively participate in the therapy process.

  • Continue working outside of sessions: To make the most of your couples counseling experience, be prepared to do you homework as requested by your therapist.

Remember that couples counseling can be a valuable tool for strengthening your relationship, but it may take time and effort to see results. Be patient and committed to the process, and don’t hesitate to speak with your therapist if you have any concerns or questions along the way.

Schedule your free relationship consultation online.

Northstar Counseling & Therapy offers a free 15 minute consultation. You will get a chance to meet your therapist and ask any questions you may have at that time. It’s time to increase the understanding, respect, affection, and intimacy between you and your partner.

Megan Corrieri

Megan Corrieri

Owner, Clinician, Wife & Mom


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