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When to go for couples therapy?


It is estimated that 18 percent of married couples live struggling to save the relationship and overcome their differences, which mostly appear by money management or bed problems. A good part of these unions cannot survive. According to figures from the Superintendency of Notaries and Registry, divorces in Colombia have increased 30 percent since 2014, and it is estimated that for every three couples who marry in Colombian notaries, one separates. Because of this, many are asking about the effectiveness of couple therapy, an intervention that consists of sitting down and talking to the two spouses in front of a third party.

Experts say it is helpful. Talking to a third person trained in these issues “opens the rigid mentality in which everyone is,” says therapist David James Lees. In addition, you can remind both of you why you came together. In these encounters we seek to reach the root of resentment, and from there we draw the tools to build a new relationship. For as they say, you cannot change what you do not understand.

But to be successful it is necessary to follow certain guidelines. The most important is to go in time, that is, at the slightest sign of dissatisfaction and before they exploit resentment and anger. “When they no longer feel at ease, they stop sharing things they used to do together or that brought them closer or feel a bit of annoyance for the other,” says psychologist Lorena Rico. The problem is that most only come when it is too late and the problems have advanced. In these circumstances the psychologist has to “act more like a firefighter than a therapist,” says Castrillon.

It is also negative to go with hidden agendas. There are cases where a spouse wants to convince the therapist that his point of view is the right one and play the role of the good cop. Others only go so that later they do not say that they did not try it. “In their heart they do not want to be there, but neither do they want to end up as guilty,” says Castrillon. The therapy does not work when there is no love or one of the two is not interested in regaining the relationship. That is why; in the first meeting Castrillón asks each one separately if he is really interested in that process. Even when infidelity removes the foundation of the relationship, therapy can help. It will take a lot more time because you have to regain confidence.

It must be taken into account that couples therapy not only serves to save a marriage, but also to make more bearable the eventual divorce. “Most come to fix, but that is not the only alternative,” says Diego Castrillón. “Another possibility is to stay under one roof, but without doing so much damage. There is also the option of achieving a break as traumatic as possible. ”

It works if…

They go in time: they should ask for help when the first symptoms of problems arise and not when they are no longer supported.

They go without agendas: many want to persuade the expert that they are the victims or that they are right. But the most successful attitude in therapy is listening.

They tell the truth: lying or keeping secrets will limit the success of the exercise. Lying to impress the therapist is also not a healthy attitude and will only deepen the problems.

They arrive willing: to attend the therapy to please the other or to be well does not help. They must arrive with the open mint and the idea that some profit will take, if only to understand the situation better.

They do not set time limits: some only require six sessions to get back on track, but others take more. It is key to stay and be disciplined in the task of regaining the relationship.


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