You have been in a troubled relationship for a long time, and finally you decide to seek couples counselling – but your partner refuses to go with you.
What can you do?
If you are stuck in the situation where you argue about attending counselling, it is likely that you feel rejected and frustrated. In therapy, clients often ask why their partner refuses to attend counselling – and what they can do about it.
Common Reasons your Partner Refuses to see a Counsellor
Some of the most common reasons why partners won’t come to therapy include:
- Fear of admitting relationship problems;
- Fear of being blamed by you, or the therapist;
- They feel uncomfortable about speaking for themselves;
- They want to end the relationship.
Understandably, most individuals find seeing a therapist is a difficult decision. They may not be emotionally ready for rebuilding the relationship.
The good news is that starting the process does not necessary involve two of you. Research shows that an individual approach to couple problems is as effective as a joint approach*. For example, many people find individual counselling helpful, as a psychologist can help them better manage their stress and improve interactions with their partner.
How Counselling Can Help When You Decide To Do It Alone
There are many ways in which relationship counselling can help, even if your partner won’t come with you. For example, you will likely:
- Identify which current problems you have at least some influence over (eg communication or anger problems). This way you will feel more hopeful and confident in making differences in the relationship.
- Understand the effects of communicating “hard” feelings such as anger and resentment and “soft” feelings such as hurt and vulnerability. Distressed couples are likely to express their hard feelings when they intend to solve their problems. Unfortunately, this way of communication can often cause further problems in the relationship. This explains why couples feel so discouraged, despite having great intentions to work on their relationship.
- Have the opportunity to practice the new skills and strategies, so that you are confident in applying those skills in challenging situations. Positive changes in your attitudes and behaviours can be a powerful message to motivate your partner to work on the relationship.
- Help you go through a transition to separation, when the relationship can’t be saved.
So your partner refuses to come with you to see a counsellor? Don’t let that hold you back – even visiting on your own can be beneficial to your relationship!
Author: Claire Pang, B Psych (Hons), M Clin Psych.
Claire is a Brisbane Clinical Psychologist with training in relationship counseling. She has a special interest in helping individuals to understand how the patterns of interpersonal difficulties, contribute to individual’s emotional and behavioural struggles.
To make an appointment try Online Booking. Alternatively, you can call Vision Psychology Brisbane on (07) 3088 5422.
- Leavitt, J. (2010). Common Dilemmas in Couple Therapy. Taylor and Francis
- Webster, M. (2003). Individual Counselling and Relationship Problems. Institute for Emotionally Focused Therapy.