Do Couple Therapists Take Sides?

Couples Counseling and Marriage Counseling

Yes and no. A good couples counselor will sometimes take sides, the side of your relationship. It is challenging and occasionally irresponsible to try and make two people who are sometimes at odds happy all of the time. Sometimes, one person needs to be called out for something like being verbally abusive. A partner who has had an affair has apologized and is sick of talking about it anymore may need to allow their partner to ask any questions until they feel a sense of closure for the relationship to move forward. It is all about your particular goals for the relationship and what will help your relationship grow or meet the goals you have set out for couples or marriage counseling. Your dreams may also not be the same, requiring the counselor to help you try to compromise and reach shared goals.

In couples counseling, the relationship is the client. No one person is of greater or lesser value to the relationship, and there are two sides to every story. Members of a couple may prefer a counselor of the same gender as themselves for fear that someone of a different gender will side with their partner. Hopefully, this would not happen in a session with any counselor. Men, in particular, are often reluctant to see a female marriage counselor. In those cases, working with a male marriage counselor who can be objective may be beneficial.

A marriage therapist should also allow each member to speak and not judge any member of the couple. Pointing out, for example, that a partner is being rude to their spouse in a session would not be a form of judgment but a way to help the relationship. It may be important to point out that a couple’s goal is to be out of debt, but one person keeps spending. If a couple is planning to get married, premarital therapy may be what they need and may need a nudge to try that route. All actions taken on behalf of the therapist should have the goal of helping the relationship, even if they don’t feel good at the time. It is usual for both members to go to couple counseling to have the counseling “change their partner.” For those who are afraid of a counselor taking sides, consider individual therapy for your relationship first. Still, there are always two sides to every story, and it can be imperative for each member to focus on whatever they can do to improve the relationship. If there has been a physical affair or an emotional affair, a counselor may need to put pressure on the guilty partner to fully and honestly explain what happened. Check out the frequently asked questions page for more on this topic.