Segment 246 for Family Album
Topic: Reasons for Therapy
Written by Suzanna Smith
Welcome to another page in the Family Album and the snapshots of our changing
families. I’m Donna Davis.
When expressing “for better or for worse” in their marriage vows, many couples
have little understanding of the challenges they may face and how they will handle them.
Even when they struggle, only a small percentage of couples get professional help, and
those who do wait an average of 6 years after serious problems develop.
Why do couples seek therapy? A number of studies have found that common
reasons have to do with interpersonal difficulties (Doss, Simpson, & Christensen, 2004,
p. 611). Recent research with distressed couples conducted by UCLA psychologists
asked spouses to list the reasons they were seeking help. Major reasons included
communication problems and emotional distance, with nearly 60% listing these as
reasons for therapy. Over 40% of couples listed concerns about possible divorce or
separation, a desire to improve the relationship, and concerns about conflict such as anger
and arguing. About a third expressed concerns about the children, including wanting to
do better for their sake.
Only a small percentage of couples were looking for help for specific areas of
marriage such as financial decisions, life transitions, or in-laws. Instead of seeking help
for specific, recent events, spouses reported longstanding and general relationship issues
and how they resolve their problems.
Because communication is a major issue for both wives and husbands, many
couples may benefit from training on how to improve their communication skills.
However, spouses may also need to bridge the emotional gap so they feel connected,
valued, and happy in their marriage.
Listening, learning and living together, it’s the science of life. “Family Album” is
a co-production of University of Florida IFAS Extension, the Department of Family,
Youth and Community Sciences and of WUFT-FM. If you’d like to learn more, please
visit our website at familyalbumradio.org.
Doss, B.D., Simpson, L. E., & Christensen, A. (2004). Why do couples seek marital therapy?
Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 35, 608-614.