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Couples counseling, also called couples therapy, is a type of psychotherapy. Couples counseling helps couples of all types recognize and resolve conflicts and improve their relationships. Through couples counseling, you can make thoughtful decisions about rebuilding and strengthening your relationship or going your separate ways.

Couples counseling is often provided by licensed therapists known as family therapists. These therapists have graduate or postgraduate degrees — and many choose to become credentialed by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT).

Couples counseling is often short term. Couples counseling typically includes both partners, but sometimes one partner chooses to work with a therapist alone. The specific treatment plan depends on the situation.

Why It's done

Couples counseling can help couples in all types of intimate relationships — regardless of sexual orientation or marital status.

Some couples seek couples counseling to strengthen their partnership and gain a better understanding of each other. Couples counseling can also help couples who plan to get married. Premarital counseling can help couples achieve a deeper understanding of each other and iron out differences before couples.

In other cases, couples seek counseling to improve a troubled relationship. You can use couples counseling to help with many specific issues, including:

  • Communication problems

  • Sexual difficulties

  • Conflicts about child rearing or blended families

  • Substance abuse

  • Anger

  • Infidelity

Couples counseling might also be helpful in cases of domestic abuse. If violence has escalated to the point that you're afraid, however, counseling alone isn't adequate. Contact the police or a local shelter or crisis center for emergency support.

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