Individual Relationship Therapy

Navigate your relationships

Sometimes a Partner Won't Come to Counseling With You

While a skilled therapist will avoid siding with one partner in individual sessions (for the most part), indeed, focusing solely on one perspective might not give the full picture. It's important to remember that individual counseling is often a stepping stone towards more effective couples therapy when both partners are ready. Many men are more comfortable with a male marriage counselor. Many women say their partner won't go with them to marriage therapy but can still benefit from working on the relationship and themselves on their own. Individual relationship counseling is NOT for bashing your partner. It is for working on parts of the relationship that you can change yourself. When clients go to individual counseling to talk negatively about their partner, they are actually more likely to get divorced or break up. This is because the therapist only hears one side of the story and typically naturally sides with the only perspective they hear.

Individual Counseling for Relationships Can Be Helpful

Even the usually happy fictional Ted Lasso needs therapy.

“If that’s a joke, I love it. If not, I can’t wait to unpack that with you later.”
Fictional Ted Lasso on Apple TV

Some individuals may have decided the relationship is over, do not want to talk about trying to save it, and instead, want to talk about the most painless way to end things. Individuals may want guidance in finding a divorce attorney or figuring out the best way to split assets without an attorney. Individuals may wish to discuss concerns over the custody of their kids. While therapists can’t provide legal advice, individual relationship counseling can equip you with the emotional clarity and communication skills to make informed decisions about legal matters within your relationship. It can also help you explore support options and navigate the emotional challenges that often accompany legal processes.

While secrets are not encouraged to create healthy relationships, maybe you want to discuss how to disclose and repair an affair but aren’t quite ready to have your partner present. You may want marriage or couples therapy, but just not yet. Even members of extremely high-functioning couples often need help, even if mostly for their partner’s sake. Individual counseling to help relationships is most effective when the focus is on what the client can do differently or improve upon.

Everyone Wants Options

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Even though couples counseling is ideal, there are significant benefits to individual counseling even if your spouse isn’t on board:

  • Focus on Yourself: Therapy provides a safe space to explore your emotions, past experiences, and anxieties that might be impacting the relationship. You can work on self-improvement and develop healthier coping mechanisms.

  • Communication Skills: A therapist can equip you with better communication tools. You’ll learn to express yourself clearly and listen effectively, which can benefit all your relationships.

  • Setting Boundaries: Individual counseling can help you identify and establish healthy boundaries, both within the marriage and in other areas of your life.

  • Decision-Making Clarity: Therapy can provide a space to gain clarity on your thoughts and feelings about the relationship. This can empower you to make well-informed decisions about your future.

  • Improved Overall Well-Being: Working on yourself through therapy can lead to a more positive outlook, reduced stress, and increased self-esteem, which will benefit you in all aspects of life.

While individual therapy can’t fix the relationship on its own, it can be a powerful tool for positive change. You can approach your relationship with a healthier perspective and better communication skills, which might even encourage your spouse to reconsider couples counseling in the future.

Common Objections

The following are common objections or questions.

Can it be harmful to see a counselor without my partner?

Yes. When the primary focus is on bashing your partner instead of working on what you control, that can be harmful. We don't do the former as a main focus.

Can I see one counselor at another location individually and come to you as a couple, or vise versa?

Yes, just make sure the person you see individually isn't overlapping the work or content and is focused on helping you.

Can we see you individually and as a couple?

Sometimes I see individuals for an appointment or two in the context of couples counseling. I typically recommend seeing a separate long-term individual counseling if that is what you need. If I see individuals its to focus on the relationship and I see each person alone equally. If one person wants to see me individually other than for a brief session, I no longer see the couple together (to avoid building a stronger relationship with one person and to act ethically).

Why Choose Aaron Engel of Cardinal Point Counseling?

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There is nothing wrong with getting training in one method of couples therapy. One can become a real specialist. Multiple methods may work great for some and not very well for others . Having the training and experience to integrate multiple models and tailor to your experience is my preferred approach.

Read my bio and see if I sound like a good fit. This website has a wealth of information, but you may also schedule a free 15-minute consultation.

Clients often say I have a calm manner and way about my self that makes them feel safe and puts them at ease. With experience treating individuals and couples, I know how to talk about relationships individually or with a couple. I’m always willing to collaborate with another counselor if the client(s) give permission. Make sure another counselor is willing to as well (if appropriate and you consent).