The American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists reports an overall success rate of 98%. A look at recent statistics on the success of couples therapy can give you an idea of what's possible. Although there are no guarantees that couples therapy will prevent their partner from falling apart, 75% of couples who had it considered that they were better off having received therapy. In addition, 65% of couples said the improvement was significant.
Up to 50% of couples kept those improvements for at least two years. Research on the effectiveness of online therapy for individual clients has been promising, especially research on the effectiveness of video counseling sessions (such as these studies from 2002 and 2011), but couple counseling is more complex and introduces more variables into the equation. But while you can benefit from going to counseling on your own, you can't do the work of couples counseling without your partner. Ever since Consumer Reports tried different types of therapy in the 1990s and discovered that marriage counseling was the least effective of all, couples counseling has been treated with skepticism in the press.
Couples therapy is so different from individual therapy that they're much less likely to help you if you don't see a counselor who has been specifically trained in couples counseling techniques. It turns out that there are clear differences between couples who benefit from marriage counseling and those who don't. Most couples go to marriage counseling when it's too late to save their marriages, and most marriage counselors are the kiss of death for marriages. In some cases, marriage counseling works by convincing the couple that they are not in a healthy relationship and by giving the couple the encouragement they need to end their relationship.
If you and your partner know that you need to see a counselor, but there are no couples counselors within driving distance of you, or you can't afford local marriage therapy fees, it might be worth trying online couples counseling instead of just giving up. If you don't have the option of seeing a couples counselor for in-person counseling sessions and you find that online marriage counseling isn't the right choice for you, consider taking a relationship education course locally or online. For some couples, marriage counseling is really divorce counseling because they've already thrown in the towel. If you're the only one who wants to save the marriage, couples counseling is likely to turn into divorce counseling.
Even if you've read that modern marriage counseling now helps 70 percent of couples who receive it, you may still be worried about being one of the 30 percent who don't get help. According to The Chicago Tribune, one of the main reasons marriage counseling doesn't always work is that a significant number of counselors who offer counseling for couples don't know how to do it. Research not only shows that many methods of counseling for couples are effective, but it also shows how and why couples counseling works and what factors increase the likelihood that it will help you. There's a good reason most marriage counseling doesn't work, because couples therapy can be the most difficult form of therapy and most therapists aren't good at it, according to an article by William Doherty in the professional journal Psychotherapy Networker.