What is the difference between marriage counseling and couples counseling, and do I need to seek help?
A quick answer to the first part of the question is marriage counseling means a marriage is in place. Couples counseling refers to couples who have a commitment, but the commitment has not led to a formal marriage. Children may or may not be present in both relationships. Both marriage counseling and couples counseling focus on a relationship and the individuals in that relationship. Relationship counseling is different from individual counseling.
Marriage counselors and couples counselors help the clients discover the territory – the problem, help the clients discover the destination – the goal, and help clients develop a map – showing the key moves to make moving to the destination. Change occurs in therapy when a professional counselor manages the clients’ emotional experiences.
The second question focuses on whether the relationship is healthy or unhealthy. A healthy relationship supports an environment of respect, sharing, communication, support and trust. Both partners are equal, and power and control are equally shared. Both people benefit from a healthy relationship, and both people have their needs met. An unhealthy relationship supports a lack of respect, sharing, communication, support and trust. There is verbal, physical and emotional abuse and an unequal balance of power where only one person has his/her needs met.
Another way to look at healthy and unhealthy relationships is:
Healthy vs. Unhealthy
Equality vs. Control
Honesty vs. Dishonesty
Physical Safety vs. Physical Abuse
Respect vs. Disrespect.
Comfort vs. Intimidation
Sexual Respectfulness vs. Sexual Abuse
Independence vs. Dependence
Humor vs. Hostility
In your relationship do you feel any of the above unhealthy effects on a recurring basis? If so, seek help from a qualified professional counselor like Dr. Elsa Orlandini located in South Beach. Her training and experience have prepared her to help you recognize and react to an unhealthy relationship.