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  • Writer's pictureStacy Taylor, LCSW

Does Couples Therapy Work?

Jake and Jan have been married for eight years, and have two children. But for the last couple of years, they have bickered almost nonstop. They've tried on their own to communicate better, but to no avail.

Jake and Jan should see a couples therapist, right?


According to a number of studies, proceed with caution when it comes to couples therapy. Yes, it can help sometimes. But, according to one study, couples therapy usually makes problems worse.

Why would this be? It's mainly because therapy can stir the pot. The couple can be asked to relive arguments and fights. Even if the couple is getting along, the session can get both parties angry at each other all over again.

But the study imparts some hope. If the therapy is geared towards problem solving and communication, it can help alleviate couple problems. Skill building might give the clients to have more tools in their toolbox.

However, couples therapy where the therapist sits back and allows clients to vent and argue endlessly? Not so helpful. Or allowing clients to continually bring up past bad behavior and grudges? Also a rabbit hole of misery.

So if you decide to embark on couples therapy, try to find a therapist who is interactive, engaged and will lead you in the right direction. But don't wait too long. The study also found that couple therapy can fail if one person is halfway out the door.

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