A couple sitting on a couch during a therapy session, looking at the therapist, engaged in the session. This image represents the importance of couples therapy and the benefits of seeking professional help to improve a relationship.

Why Do Some Couples Succeed in Therapy While Others Don’t?

Posted by Mara in Couples Counseling, The Right Therapist Posted on: 09 Mar 2023

Working with a trained therapist to address relationship issues and improve communication and intimacy is what couples therapy is all about. The goal is to help couples understand each other better, resolve conflicts, and create a stronger, healthier relationship. However, not all couples who seek therapy achieve these results. Some couples make significant progress and enjoy long-term benefits, while others do not.

It is natural to be skeptical of therapy for your relationship if you are considering it. In this article, we will look at why some couples succeed in therapy while others do not, as well as what you can do to improve your chances. We will talk about the factors that contribute to successful therapy, the challenges that couples may face, and strategies for increasing your chances of reaching your therapy goals. You will have a better understanding of what to expect from couples therapy and how to make the most of your experience by the end of this article.

Factors that Contribute to Successful Therapy

While each couple’s therapy experience is unique, research has shown that certain factors are consistently associated with positive outcomes. Understanding these factors can help you and your partner go into therapy knowing what to expect and how to get the most out of your experience.

Willingness of Both Partners to Participate Fully

The willingness of both partners to fully participate in the process is one of the most important factors in successful therapy. According to research, couples who are committed to attending therapy sessions on a regular basis and actively participate in therapy activities are more likely to have positive outcomes. This includes communicating openly and honestly with their therapist and with each other, as well as accepting responsibility for their own behavior and actions within the relationship. Furthermore, couples with strong communication skills are better equipped to collaborate in therapy toward common goals.

Active listening and other communication skills are also important in therapy. The ability to express your thoughts and feelings in a clear and respectful manner can help you and your partner better understand each other and work toward common goals. Accepting responsibility for your own actions and reactions can also aid in the development of trust and accountability within the relationship.

Compatibility between Therapist and Couple

The compatibility of the therapist and the couple is another significant aspect in successful therapy. Because not all therapists have the same approach or style, it is important to find a therapist who is the right fit for your relationship. The therapist should be able to build trust and rapport with both partners in the relationship.

It is also imperative to match the therapist’s style to the needs of the relationship. For example, if the couple is looking for a therapist to help them with communication challenges, they should find a therapist with experience in this area who uses evidence-based strategies to strengthen communications. Confidence in the therapist’s abilities is also essential for success, as couples must feel confident that their therapist can help them achieve their goals.

The Nature of the Relationship

Finally, the nature of the relationship itself is an important factor in successful therapy. Identifying underlying issues, setting individual and couple goals, and balancing individual and couple needs are all crucial for success. Therapy can help couples identify patterns of behavior that may be contributing to conflicts, and work towards breaking those patterns and creating healthier ways of relating to each other. Understanding and respecting each other’s needs and goals is also crucial for success, as it helps to build a stronger, more resilient relationship. With the right mindset and a willingness to heal and improve, most couples can overcome the challenges of couples therapy and experience significant growth and healing in their relationship. While understanding the process of therapy can be daunting for many couples, a commitment to working collaboratively with the therapist can lead to positive outcomes and a stronger, more satisfying relationship.

Challenges to Successful Therapy

While couples therapy can be highly effective, there are also challenges that couples may face in their journey towards improving their relationship. It’s important to be aware of these challenges so that you can prepare for them and address them as they arise.

Resistance to Change

One of the biggest challenges in therapy is resistance to change. Change can be difficult and uncomfortable, especially when it involves breaking old patterns of behavior and creating new ones. Fear of the unknown and the need for consistency can also make it difficult to embrace change. In therapy, couples may need to explore new ways of communicating, problem-solving, and relating to each other, which can be challenging and require effort and patience.

External Stressors

Another challenge that couples may face in therapy is external stressors, such as financial difficulties, family conflicts, and work-related stress. These stressors can make it difficult to focus on therapy goals and may even exacerbate existing relationship issues. In therapy, couples may need to address these external stressors and develop strategies for coping with them in a way that supports their relationship goals.

Mental Health Issues

Mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse can also be a challenge to successful therapy. These issues can impact the relationship and make it difficult to engage fully in therapy. In some cases, couples may need to address individual mental health issues before they can effectively address relationship issues. In other cases, therapy can be a helpful tool in managing and improving mental health symptoms and supporting overall relationship health.

It’s important to remember that challenges in therapy are normal and expected. It’s not uncommon for couples to experience setbacks or for progress to be slower than expected. What’s important is to remain committed to the process and to work with your therapist to find solutions to challenges as they arise.

Tips for Improving Your Chances of Success

While there are challenges to successful therapy, there are also things you can do to increase your chances of achieving your therapy goals. Here are some tips for making the most of your therapy experience:

Prioritizing Therapy

Make therapy a priority in your life by scheduling regular sessions, sticking to therapy goals, and being open and communicative with your therapist. Consider therapy a valuable investment in your relationship and commit to attending sessions regularly.

Maintaining Positivity

Celebrate progress, find joy in your relationship, and avoid negative behaviors that can undermine progress in therapy. Focus on what is working and what you appreciate about your partner and your relationship.

Being Open-Minded

Be open to trying new approaches and considering your therapist’s perspective. Allow room for mistakes and view them as opportunities for growth and learning.

Remember that therapy is a process and that progress can take time. Be patient with yourselves and with each other, and continue to work towards your goals together. By prioritizing therapy, maintaining positivity, and being open-minded, you can increase your chances of success in couples therapy.


Couples therapy can be an extremely beneficial tool for improving communication, resolving conflicts, and developing a stronger, healthier relationship. While some couples may be able to achieve these objectives through therapy, others may struggle. The willingness of both partners to participate fully, compatibility between the therapist and the couple, and the nature of the relationship itself are all factors that contribute to successful therapy.

Resistance to change, external stressors, and mental health issues are all obstacles to successful therapy. Couples can improve their chances of success in therapy by prioritizing therapy, remaining positive, and remaining open-minded.

If you are thinking about going to couples therapy, you should go in with realistic expectations and a commitment to the process. Remember that therapy is a process, and that progress can be slow. Working together with your therapist and with each other, you can create a stronger, more resilient relationship that will last.

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