This blog addresses the question: couples therapy or individual therapy? You and your partner may be trying to answer this yourselves. Or, you’re the one trying to figure this out through research. However, you know that you’re needing one form or the other.
There are certain circumstances where the answer to this is clear cut. Other times, it ultimately depends upon your and your partner’s needs, goals, and level of commitment to therapy. By speaking with an intake coordinator, you can get a better understanding of the direction to go.
This blog will hypothetically ask you three questions. One important question is whether there is a history of domestic violence in the relationship. The second question is whether all partners are open to therapy. The third is asking what your goals of therapy are, or what issues you want to address.
Couples Therapy or Individual Therapy?: Is there current or past history of domestic violence?
This question is important, as it can help determine what form of therapy is best for you at this time. No matter if the domestic violence occurred several years ago, or is ongoing, we always recommend that you and/or your partner participate in individual therapy.
In couples with a history of domestic violence, it is not always appropriate to start couples therapy without both of you making progress in individual therapy first.
This is because violence is not something your therapist should normalize or validate. It can be tricky to balance both partner’s needs, or establish appropriate couples goals, when one partner is behaving aggressively or violently.
Therapists typically will want to see progress toward anger management, impulse control, and significant periods of stability without domestic violence occurring before beginning couples treatment.
These goals are best achieved in an individual setting, as it allows you time to address your own areas for improvement and accountability.
Furthermore, if you are a survivor of domestic violence, it may be pertinent to establish outside sources of support and build feelings of empowerment. Intimate partner and domestic violence are not limited to physical violence; many people suffer from emotional or psychological abuse as well. It is important that you have your own, dedicated space for working through these issues and exploring your own sources of power.
In other words, the traumatic effects of abuse and violence are complex. They may be best processed in an individual therapeutic setting before beginning couples treatment.Consider starting individual therapy in Simi Valley with one of our trauma informed therapists, today. Make sure to read this blog on How to Know if You’re in an Abusive Relationship.
Couples Therapy or Individual Therapy?: Are all partners open to therapy?
Having the conversation about couples therapy can be uncomfortable. You’re not sure how your partner will receive it. Going into it without casting blame or judgment, and being honest about your feelings, is the best way to start talking about it.
You may be at a point where couples counseling feels like your last hope to mend issues. Or, you notice some things that you both need support on. Whether this is early in the relationship, or after some time has passed together.
Here are some quick questions and answers that may help you:
- Your partner agrees that there are issues they’d like to mutually resolve in therapy. They also have goals for session, and feel motivated to give it a try. > Do couples therapy.
- Your partner expresses that they are not open to therapy at this time. They don’t believe it’s necessary or beneficial. They feel set on not wanting to get started. > Do individual therapy.
- Your partner has been bouncing back and forth between being open to it and then not wanting to do it. They are not fully committed to the idea, and still need some time to consider it. > Do individual therapy.
- Your partner is open to meet with a third party and possibly continue after one session if it feels right. They agree it’s worth exploring, and want to try it out with you > Do couples counseling.
Signing you and your partner up for therapy, when they aren’t open to it, is not okay. Here at New Leaf, we make sure that both partners are committed and comfortable moving forward with sessions.
Why do individual counseling sessions when you want couples therapy?
Because you can still address relationship issues in your individual sessions. Rather than receiving no support for the issues, you will receive all of the support. Although you may want your partner present to hear or speak about things, this can be equally as healing.
In time, you may notice significant changes in your own behaviors or mental health. There are opportunities for you to heal from traumas prior to this current relationship. You may also feel more confident in making decisions about this relationship you’re in now.
Individual counseling in Simi Valley, CA gives you a space to be heard, understood, and validated. Make sure to read our blog on 3 Ways to Trust Yourself More!
Couples Therapy or Individual Therapy?: What issues are you looking to address?
What kinds of issues are you looking to address in session? Are there clear goals that you’d like to work towards? Maybe you aren’t sure yet, but you just know you want someone else to talk to. Don’t worry, our therapists will help you identify and establish these!
Some goals for couples therapy can include:
- Understanding each other’s love languages (and how to meet them).
- Learning how to create and maintain boundaries with each other.
- Improving communication issues.
- Working through infidelity to strengthen the relationship.
- Better understanding what your future can look like together.
- How to support each other better in times of need (past trauma, depression, etc).
It may be that you have individual goals for yourself. You notice yourself struggling with issues such as anxiety, depression, trauma, grief, or more. Maybe you know that you carry trust issues from a previous relationship into this current one – and you want to heal from that.
Some goals for individual therapy can include:
- Understanding your attachment style to others.
- Healing from past trauma.
- Gaining and strengthening coping skills or strategies to self-regulate or cope with mental health struggles.
- Having a space to talk about issues bothering you in the relationship.
- Having a space to grieve relationships, losses, or aspects of your own life.
Whether you’re seeking out couples counseling or individual therapy, we’re just a call away for a free consultation.
In-person therapy in Simi Valley is ideal for those seeking a separate, safe space from their home. Check out our blog on Online Therapy or In Office Therapy to understand what format is best for you. Another great blog to read is ours on if you need Therapy or Medication to address your issues.
By seeking out support, you can begin your journey to feeling relief. You don’t have to go through finding the right level of support alone, either.
Consider calling our therapy group at (805) 774-1506 for a free consultation on how you or a loved one can get started today!
Seek out a validating, safe environment with us today. We will help you get to where you want to be. Our therapists provide trauma therapy, teen therapy, individual adult therapy, LGBTQIA+ therapy, anxiety therapy, depression therapy, family therapy, and more in-office in Simi Valley, CA.