Thoughtful mature woman drinking tea in cafe - Individual v Couples Therapy - Sandra Harewood

Deciding: Relationship Help – Individual vs. Couples Therapy

As someone deeply committed to providing relationship help through the transformative power of counselling, psychotherapy, and therapeutic coaching, I’ve witnessed firsthand the remarkable changes that unfold in individuals’ lives over my 15 years of working with clients.

It’s truly awe-inspiring to see how understanding their emotions and freeing themselves from past burdens can lead to profound transformations.

Having experienced counselling, psychotherapy, and coaching from both perspectives—as a practitioner and a client—I’ve learned that not all therapeutic approaches are equally effective, especially when navigating marital challenges.

Today, in this blog post, we’ll explore when couples therapy becomes a beacon of hope during your marital struggles. We’ll discuss the best strategies to enrich and strengthen your relationship.

Overcoming Relationship Pitfalls

In my role as a therapist, guiding clients on their relationship journeys has provided me with profound insights and revelations.

Witnessing firsthand the remarkable transformations these paths can facilitate has been enlightening.

However, what has become evident to me is that not all ways to help a relationship are the same.

Each experience has taught me that different therapeutic techniques, skills, and tools are necessary to address unique needs and circumstances.

It’s comparable to sewing—just as the needle used to mend a delicate silk dress differs from one needed for a woollen jumper, our therapeutic approaches must vary depending on the intricacies of our clients’ situations.

Deciding: Relationship Help - Individual vs. Couples Therapy - senior couple on an autumn walk in countryside together - Sandra Harewood

Balancing Personal Growth and Relationship Dynamics

In my experience as a couples therapist, I’ve observed a common challenge that many couples encounter: the tendency to prioritise their relationship over their individual growth. This inclination often emerges, particularly in the early stages of a relationship.

During this phase, couples may overlook the fact that emotional well-being is intricately linked to personal development. Our thoughts shape our perceptions, our feelings guide our decisions, and our interactions with the world have both immediate and lasting impacts.

However, couples frequently find themselves overly focused on their partnership, sometimes neglecting personal growth. They may invest all their energy into the relationship or become excessively absorbed in meeting their partner’s needs, inadvertently neglecting their own.

Over time, especially in midlife, after being in a long-term partnership, they may begin to feel a sense of emptiness or lack of fulfilment, leading them to consider personal therapy as a means to address these emotions and seek relationship help.

The Role of Individual Counselling in Relationship Challenges

At this point, seeking individual support often feels important.

Individual counselling, often hailed as a journey of self-discovery, provides valuable insights into our inner thoughts and emotions. However, this solitary focus may prove insufficient when confronted with relationship challenges.

Individual therapy naturally centres on the individual, serving its purpose effectively. Yet, it may fall short when grappling with the complexities of a relationship.

While exploring self-care, boundaries, and self-assertion remains crucial, these revelations often lack integration into the broader relational context.

There’s a risk in individual therapy of becoming trapped in a cycle of negativity, where the therapist’s empathy inadvertently reinforces pain.

Acknowledging its limitations, individual therapy excels in fostering self-reflection but may overlook the intricate dynamics of relationships. This singular focus can impede addressing issues affecting both partners.

Therapists navigating couples counselling must skillfully adapt, guiding both individuals toward mutual growth.

Deciding: Relationship Help - Individual vs. Couples Therapy- happy interracial couple senior couple on the beach - Sandra Harewood

Nurturing Relationships through Couples Counselling

Unlike individual counselling, couples therapy explores the dynamic between two people, going beyond individual feelings. For couples therapists, mental health revolves around the relationship between individuals.

In couples counselling, the relationship itself is considered the client rather than focusing solely on the individuals involved.

Couples therapy takes a unique approach, moving beyond individual focus to nurture growth within the relationship itself. It aims to strike a balance between independence and interdependence, fostering a healthier dynamic between partners.

When the relationship is in distress, prioritise heealing the relationship itself. Addressing individual concerns alone won’t lead to progress

With this broader perspective, couples therapists guide individuals toward personal growth and the development of a more fulfilling partnership.

This comprehensive approach enhances current relationships and equips individuals with skills to navigate connections in various aspects of life. These acquired skills translate into successful interactions with family, friends, colleagues, and the wider community.

Paradoxically, couples’ work can offer just as much opportunity to deepen self-awareness and understand both intrapersonal and interpersonal dynamics as typical individual counselling.

You can learn:

  • How to differentiate: Maintaining individuality while staying connected.
  • Self-Care: Preserving self and partner’s well-being together.
  • Communication skills: Expressing needs, wants, and desires clearly.
  • Self-Awareness: Recognising personal needs and desires.
  • Progress: Embracing challenges for growth
  • Relationship skills: Developing skills for navigating relationships.

Seeking Support: Navigating Relationship Challenges Alone

Sometimes, it can feel disheartening to realise that we need to address our relationship challenges alone, especially when our partner isn’t yet ready to join us on the journey of couples counselling. It’s a difficult situation to navigate, and it’s okay to feel overwhelmed or unsure about where to turn next.

If you’re considering individual counselling or relationship coaching in this situation, I want to offer some guidance and support.

It’s essential to seek out therapists who are well-versed in couples or family dynamics and can offer the appropriate relationship help you need.

These specialists understand the complexities of relational dynamics and can provide invaluable insights and support as you navigate this challenging time.

Remember, you’re not alone in this journey. Seeking help is a brave and proactive step towards healing and growth. While it may feel daunting at times, know that there are professionals out there who are dedicated to supporting you every step of the way. Take your time, be gentle with yourself, and know that brighter days are ahead.

Tailoring Therapy for Personal and Relational Growth

In conclusion, while individual therapy is indeed a cornerstone of personal development, it’s crucial to acknowledge its limitations when navigating complex relational dynamics.

The path to emotional well-being isn’t one-size-fits-all, and choosing the right therapy can significantly impact your journey.

So, as you embark on this path, remember that each situation requires a tailored approach. Venturing into couples therapy can unlock transformative outcomes that extend far beyond the individual.

Over To You

Are you seeking relationship help and unsure whether to opt for couples or individual support? If you’re ready to explore what’s the best support for you, reach out to book a Marital Clarity session. I offer secure online video sessions for your convenience.

Or call me today on 07535 864836.

Leave a comment below; I’d love to hear from you.


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© Sandra Harewood 2024

About Sandra Soul-centred couples therapist, counsellor and Jungian Shadow Work coach Sandra Harewood specialises in working with women and couples stuck at a crossroads in their marriages. Relationships are precious; this is your chance to begin a new journey and experience the connection and intimacy you most deeply desire.