When to start relationship therapy?

Relationship therapy is one of the kindest gifts you can give to your relationship. Relationships require care and nurturing, and seeking therapy with your partner(s) can be an incredibly helpful way to ensure the longevity and happiness of your relationship. Many partnerships wait until their relationship is "no longer working" or filled with resentment, hostility, contempt and conflict. 

What many therapists have known is that partners should seek therapy way before they think they "need" to. Pre-martial therapy is becoming more popular and hopefully the way we culturally think about individual and relationship therapy is shifting. 

Additionally, relationship therapy can be more effective and enjoyable when when your relationship is not in crisis and possibly dealing with a symptom such as infidelity.  Getting into treatment earlier can increase the ease of changing dynamics and patterns, and can reduce the amount of conflict and hurt that we process in treatment.

At G&STC, we believe relationship therapy can be effective within the first 2-4 years of relationship and even earlier if you see fit. We decided on that number based on when many of our relationship therapy clients report the origins of realizing there were some bumps in their relationship. By not coming to therapy until 5-6+ years into their relationship those small bumps turned into major obstacles and conflicts. Often, either one, two or more partners felt "it was too early to be needing therapy." This outlook on therapy shows that we look at relationship therapy with judgement, something only to seek when in crisis or major conflict and, unfortunately, not one of the many ways to nurture a relationship. At G&STC, we hope that relationship therapy can be viewed less as a solution to a crisis or major conflict, and more like one of the many activities relationships can do to ensure the health and connectedness of relationships much like sex and going on dates.

Check out the recently published CNN article that explores some frequently asked questions about relationship therapy, such as when to start and what to expect.

Additionally, check out the G&STC Director's previous blog about foundations to effective communication.

Note: The CNN article says "couples therapy," but at G&STC we are affirming of consensually non-monogamous relationships and believe "relationship therapy" is more accurate and affirming.

Blog authors all hold positions at the Gender & Sexuality Therapy Collective (G&STC). For more information about our therapists and services please contact us.