Contempt in your relationship will destroy it.

Marriage In Trouble? How To Decide Between Couples Therapy vs. Individual Therapy

You are fighting, yelling and arguing about everything. You can’t agree on anything and are tired of having the same fights over and over again. You may be asking yourself, “Is my marriage in trouble?” What are the benefits of couples therapy vs. individual therapy? Where do you turn? and Who do you call?

You may google “marriage help” or “marriage in trouble what do I do?”, trying to find something or someone to point you in the right direction.

In the past, you read articles and watched videos to help resolve the fighting, but nothing really helped or resolved the issue.

You may be reluctant to think about couples therapy based on past attempts to find a couples therapist or hearing about a friend’s bad experience. You may not want to attend couples therapy because when you previously attended couples therapy, the therapist sided with your spouse. In addition, you may want to try to resolve the issue on your own because you do not want to have to ask for help or believe that if one partner attends individual therapy the relationship will improve.

You may feel uncertain about discussing your personal and private information with someone you don’t know, even though they are trained as couples therapists.

Whether you are feeling desperate or know the benefits of therapy, you now need to decide the benefits of couples therapy vs. individual therapy.

Couples Therapy vs. Individual Therapy

When an individual attends Individual therapy for a relationship issue research indicates that clients will divorce or leave their partner at a higher rate than if they attended couples therapy. Bill Doherty, founder of Discernment Therapy, states that clients should avoid in individual therapy assessing, diagnosing or labeling their partner’s, who is not in the office, motives or actions.

If you are looking to leave your partner, then attend individual therapy, but if you want to consider working on the relationship pick couples therapy.

Couples therapy helps the couple address the issues and resolve them. Many times if one partner attends individual therapy for relationship issues one of two things happen: 1. The partner in therapy blames him/herself for all the problems; or 2. The partner blames the missing partner for all of the problems.

If Your Marriage Is In Trouble, The Differences Between Couples Therapy vs. Individual Therapy:

Individual Therapy
Individual therapy, like the name suggests, is for individuals seeking help with issues, but not limited to, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, mood issues, self esteem and addictions. Individual therapists will work with you to address these issues and use modalities specific to your issue.

When you contact a therapist you may be wanting to discover if your marriage is in trouble, so you want to find someone who can address and validate your concerns and resolve the issues.

As a licensed counselor, these are 3 typical scenarios of someone seeking therapy and the typical conversations that happen in the couples therapist vs. individual therapist office.

The Benefits And Challenges Of Couples Therapy vs. Individual Therapy:

Problem: Husband cheats on wife.

Individual Therapy Solution: Wife is angry about being cheated on and discusses how horrible her husband is for cheating on her. The therapist will validate the client’s anger and pain, but there is little to no discussion (because the partner is not in session) why and how the cheating occurred and understanding the dynamics of the relationship.

Couples Therapy Solution: Couples therapy will help the couple address feelings around the cheating from both parties, help the partner who cheated ask for forgiveness and repair the betrayal and sometimes discusses whether or not to remain married or decouple. Together they can discuss how to improve and strengthen their marriage so it never happens again.

Problem: Woman is trying to decide if she should get married to her boyfriend.

Individual Therapy Solution: She talks about the pros and cons of getting married to this man. She learns skills and tools to have a good marriage and work together as a team, but he is not present to learn any of these skills and tools.

Couples Therapy Solution: The couple discusses the strengths and challenges in their relationship. They work together to decide what the best decision is and discuss the purpose of marriage, love, commitment, and values. Together they learn skills to improve their communication and work together as a team.

Problem: Woman wants to improve her communication with her boyfriend or husband.

Individual Therapist Solution: The woman blames herself or him for the problems in communication.

Couples Therapist Solution: They attend couples therapy, and learn how they miscommunicate, misunderstand and mis-attune to each other. They become knowledgeable of communication skills they can both use to understand, empathize and validate each other. They learn how to deescalate arguments and have fewer fights.

These scenarios are generalizations of what actually occurs in therapy and are not suggestive of every type of individual or couples therapy.

Couples therapists are prepared and trained to address relationship issues and are best suited to help the couple decide the course of their relationship.

You need to decide whether to seek counseling when your marriage is in trouble and decide how couples therapy vs. individual therapy will benefit your relationship. Whatever you decide, if you want your relationship to improve and thrive, pick the option that will support and nurture the couple and relationship-Couples Therapy.

Additional reading to support your relationship as you explore options for couples therapy and healing:

What Causes Resentment In A Marriage (Plus How You Can Heal Resentment In Yours)

How To Discuss Relationship Problems Without Fighting

How To Communicate With A Man That Won’t Communicate

How Often Do Couples Fight And Should You Be Concerned?

ADHD & Relationships

How To Let Go Of Resentment So You Stop Focusing On Old Hurts & Past Pain

Stuck In A One-Sided Relationship? Here’s How To Talk About It So Resentment Doesn’t Take Over


Lisa Rabinowitz

Lisa Rabinowitz, LCPC is a certified Gottman therapist working with couples in the US and internationally. Lisa has worked for many years with couples who have both diagnosed and undiagnosed ADHD. Her certifications and experience uniquely qualify her to support couples with relationship challenges that often feel insurmountable. Please reach out for a free 20-minute consultation with Lisa today.

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