What percentage of couples stay together after couples therapy?

The American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists reports an overall success rate of 98%. The success of couples therapy and other factors contribute to the decline in the divorce rate in the United States. There are many factors that contribute to the success rate of therapy, including the partner's level of involvement, their expectations, whether there has been physical or emotional abuse, and the type of therapy they seek. One type of marriage counseling is emotional-centered therapy.

According to the Chicago Emotionally Focused Therapy Center, approximately 50 percent of couples stay together immediately after therapy, and 70 percent reconcile within the next three months. However, other research suggests that couples counseling has a limited effect. US studies place the counseling success rate between 11 and 18%. Not only does it seem like it doesn't work for most people, but most people don't think about having it.

A BBC survey revealed that 75% of married couples with children had ever had serious problems in their marriage; of those, only 8% had sought counseling. Often, when couples seek help, their relationship is already in its throes. While it may not help with more thorny issues, research shows that relationship education can help couples improve their communication skills and levels of relationship satisfaction. But while you can benefit from going to counseling on your own, you can't do the work of couples counseling without your partner.

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. 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. 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. It will offer postgraduate degrees in counseling for couples and families and a master's program, and will emphasize research and the measurement of counseling outcomes.

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. If you're the only one who wants to save the marriage, couples counseling is likely to turn into divorce counseling. 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.

Keith Haggan
Keith Haggan

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