Couples Counseling: Signs It’s Not Working

Couples Counseling: Signs It’s Not Working

In the face of relationship challenges that range from communication issues to lost intimacy, couples are encouraged to seek marriage counseling in Raleigh, NC. Yet, what happens when you have a feeling that the couples counseling isn’t getting you anywhere? Despite the effort, time, and money you invested in counseling trying to fix your marriage, you feel that it’s not working. How do you know if your marriage counseling is not addressing the problems in your relationship?

Well, there are some more or less clear signs that couples therapy is not working. But before we go through them, let’s talk a bit about the key reasons couples counseling might not be working for you. While there are many reasons for that, there are a few basic elements that make therapy success difficult for some couples.

1.    One partner is insisting on counseling and forcing the other one against her/his will

This is a serious one. If someone is forcing you into something, there can be no success, and that’s that. I need both of you to be fully committed to couples therapy in order for it to be effective!

2.    The couples therapy plans and goals are not clear

One of the essential conditions of successful marriage counseling is clear treatment plans and goals. How can you know when you get to your destination if you don’t even have a destination? Some therapists don’t set goals with their clients because they assume the goals are implicit. Also, some clients tend to set either too high or non-challenging therapy goals for themselves. Setting no goals, or setting the goals that are either too demanding or non-challenging usually keeps the problems in the relationship and creates the impression that your couples counseling sessions are a waste of time.

3.    The Couple Isn’t Comfortable

Okay, sitting in a room discussing your deepest and most intimate details with a stranger definitely is not the most comfortable situation. However, most people overcome this initial uneasiness in a few sessions. Yet, self-conscious couples or couples who are very private (or those who do not disclose everything to the therapist) sometimes find it very hard to overcome this discomfort, which becomes one of the main obstacles in counseling success.

4.    The Therapy or Therapist is a Bad Match for the Couple

Your therapist is a person too. Despite all their knowledge, experience, and credentials, sometimes a therapist and you as a couple just don’t fit. To ensure your couples counseling success, take time to do a research and find the best match for your needs. Before you go into counseling, find a good therapist, evaluate their credentials, visit their website, read their blog posts, watch their videos (if they have any) and ask yourself whether you feel that your therapist is a good fit for you and your issues.

A lot of therapists, including myself, spend a lot of time creating useful blog posts and videos on their website for this exact purpose- so that clients can get a “feel” for my. personality and decide whether they feel confident and comfortable with my style, personality, and approach.

The Signs Couples Counseling is Not Working


1.     You Feel Like Your Couples Therapist Doesn’t Get You

It is important that you feel heard and supported during your counseling sessions. However, you and your therapist might not have the same goals. For example, if your marriage counselor thinks you should repair the relationship, but you are seeking help in the transition process of a divorce, have an open conversation with him/her about this and clarify that you have the same goals.

2.     You Don’t Like the Therapist

Therapists won’t always tell you what you want to hear, because they won’t always agree with you. And that’s totally normal. However, you do not want to confide in someone who comes across as judgmental. So, if your gut is telling you that your couples therapist is not the best match for you and your needs, this could be a sign that you should break up with your therapist.

3.     You Don’t Know How to Apply What You Learned

You have no idea how to apply what you learn in a therapy session in your real life. Let’s say you are learning positive communication skills during your couples counseling sessions, but when you get home, you still carry on with the old, inefficient communication patterns because you don’t know how to apply in your everyday life what you learned in therapy.

4.     You Don’t Feel Like You’re Getting Anywhere

It’s been weeks since you’ve begun marriage counseling and you don’t see any progress towards the goals you set in the beginning. If you have been in therapy for a long time, but you don’t see any improvements, bring this up to your marriage therapist. If you feel there is no progress, it may suit you to find another professional to talk to.

5.     The Trust is Totally Lacking

If one of you has cheated, this can break the trust in your relationship. If you want to fix it and seek marriage counseling in Raleigh, NC, the person who broke the trust in your relationship needs to be ready to tell the truth, accept the responsibility, and give up some privacy until the truth is recovered. If you or your partner are not willing to commit to this, your couples counseling may fail.

6.     You or/and Your Partner are not Motivated to Make It Work

One of the first questions I ask my clients is, ”Do you want this relationship to live?” It is as simple as that. You need to be honest and come clean about your feelings, needs, and expectations.  Some people bring their spouse for couples therapy just to break up with them because they’re either afraid to hurt their partner’s feelings or they fear an angry or violent response and they are looking for a third person’s protection.


During the therapy process, you can spot the red flags that couples therapy is not working for you. Not all the therapies and all the therapists are a good fit for you, your partner, and your relationship. And that’s okay. Good news is that there are tons of amazing couples therapists out there, and I am confident you will find the one for you and your spouse.

I hope this information helps you on time recognize the signs that your couples counseling is not working and what you can do to make it succeed. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to call at (703)-347-3200 for your free of charge 15-min consultation and/or to schedule an appointment in my Wake Forest office or online.


Irina Baechle,LCSW is a founder, owner, and a licensed therapist at IrinaBaechleCounselingLLC. She specializes in helping distant couples and anxious singles build truly connected and meaningful relationships. She currently offers online and in-home counseling services to residents of Virginia and North Carolina (and most countries abroad). Click here to schedule your free 15 min consultation. Follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Youtube for useful tips and resources.

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