Common Misconceptions about Relationship Counselling – Part 1

My name is Danny and I am a Registered Clinical Counsellor with a Masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. I thought it might be helpful to share a list of common misconceptions around relationship counselling that can prevent people from getting the help they need. Stay tuned for part 2!

Misconception 1: Relationship counselling is only for when things are really bad.

Relationship counselling is something that can be helpful even early in relationships. In fact, it can prevent negative patterns from developing into deep ruts that are more difficult to escape. No matter the stage of your relationship, counselling is a chance to explore and deepen the bond between you and your partner(s).

Misconception 2: Going to counselling means our relationship is failing.

No relationship can survive without outside help. Sometimes, friends and family are really good supports. Other times, we need more assistance. Think of your body – sometimes when you get hurt, all it needs is a band-aid, whereas other times you need specialised help. You’re not failing if you need to see a doctor; the same is true with counselling.

Misconception 3: Relationship counselling is just about getting advice.

While relationship counselling will involve the therapist giving some guidance, it is more about exploring the relationship dynamics and practising new ways of being with each other than simply receiving advice. There are a few common ways of doing relationship counselling, and many have decades worth of research to back them up (e.g. Emotionally-Focused Therapy [Johnson, 2019], The Gottman Method [Gottman, n.d.]). As well, relationship counselling is an investment – deep, healing work often takes at least 12 sessions.  

Misconception 4: Going to counselling alone is enough to fix our relationship*.

Relationships are hard work, whether they’re going well or not. Counselling is one way of helping your relationship, but we only see you for a very small percentage of your week. Therapists may assign reading or homework to do between sessions to support the work you’re doing. It’s up to all of you to take an active role outside of counselling in implementing what you learn in session.

Gottman, J. (n.d.). Research. Retrieved from: https://www.johngottman.net/research/

Johnson, S. M. (2019). Attachment theory in practice: Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) with individuals, couples, and families. Guilford Publications.

*Some of these misconceptions are inspired by https://taylorcounselinggroup.com/blog/misconceptions-of-marriage-counseling/

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