Relationship counseling can be for anyone facing relationship challenges or wanting support in strengthening a relationship. It can also be used as prevention to learn communication methods and other skills to avoid conflict. For example, people anticipating a challenge or transition such as retirement or children leaving home may benefit from preventive relationship counseling.6
Reasons to consider relationship counseling include:
Wanting to strengthen a relationship
Facing a challenge in a relationship
Considering a change in relationship status (marriage, separation, or divorce)
Wanting to improve the ability to parent children together
Who May Consider Relationship Counseling?
Relationship counseling isn’t just for romantic partners. Other people who may wish to seek relationship counseling include:
People who parent children together
Parents and their children
Any combination of two or more family members
Two or more friends
How It Works
Relationship counseling is a communication-based method that addresses issues between two or more people to improve their interactions and build more healthy relationship dynamics.1 This means it involves conversations between the people receiving the counseling and the mental health professional providing the counseling. After talking, the provider can determine what else may be needed, such as education or skills training.
Each person, relationship, and situation is different. The success rate of relationship counseling depends on the specific type of counseling, the people in the relationship, and what is needed. Even so, different techniques and types of counseling have been evaluated for effectiveness.
Here are some statistics of the efficacy of relationship counseling:
Premarital counseling has been shown to increase the success rate of marriages by 30% for couples considering or planning marriage.7
Emotionally focused therapy, also called EFT, is a commonly used method in relationship counseling that has been shown 70%–75% effective.8
About 90% of people who receive marriage and family therapy find that it improves their emotional health.9
About 75% of parents who go to counseling for a child notice improved behavior in their child.9
What to Expect
What to expect at relationship counseling depends on the people receiving the counseling, the provider, the type of counseling, and what is needed. It is generally short term, with a set number of sessions. For example, emotionally focused therapy is generally eight to 20 sessions.10 Premarital counseling tends to be shorter, with five to seven sessions.
Relationship counseling is counseling for two or more people who have a relationship together that is conducted by a mental health professional. Some examples include couples counseling, marriage counseling, premarital counseling, and family counseling. It can be used to address issues or challenges that impact the relationship, learn skills such as better communication, or prevent future conflict.