An Important Decision

The decision to seek therapy or counseling for one's personal "problems" and concerns calls for careful consideration. It is one of the most personal and important decisions we can make as we face the many challenges we confront as individuals and as partners in a relationship. We live in a culture that places a high value on needing no one to help us resolve personal issues. It can therefore be experienced as weakness and cause feelings of embarrassment or shame to reach out for professional help.

Anyone considering counseling or therapy should be aware of some commonly held opinions before going forward. First of all, especially if one has doubts about the value of a venture like therapy; it can be helpful to talk with others who have benefited from the experience. It is also important to speak with one or more therapists, not only to understand better what you could expect from being in therapy with them, but also to determine whether they feel like someone you can trust and relate to comfortably. There are many misconceptions about what it means to reach out for this kind of help, and it is therefore important to get as much information as you can before making a final decision.

Research has established that couples often put off therapy for as much as seven years beyond the time when it was clear that they were struggling and unsuccessful in working through the differences (on their own) that were leading to more and more conflict and discord. By the time relationship counseling is brought into the picture, so much "water has gone beneath the bridge" that the damage is difficult to repair and reverse. Marital discord is like cancer; the outcome is more optimistic when treatment begins early after onset.