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Marriage counselling, also known as couples counselling, relationship counselling, or couples therapy, is a form of therapy that supports people in intimate relationships. Therapy may be helpful for partners considering separation or seeking improved intimacy and understanding. While the relationship itself is the focus of marital counselling, each partner is expected to pay attention to self-improvement and self-awareness.



The purpose of couples counseling is to help partners learn more about each other and acquire healthy problem-solving skills. The marriage counsellor or LMFT may interview both partners, together or individually, during the first few meetings. Afterwards, they may provide feedback. The couple may set therapeutic goals with the guidance of the therapist and develop a plan for therapy so each person knows what to expect. In couples therapy, positive results often depend on the couple’s motivation and dedication to the process. 


As treatment progresses, each partner may become a better listener and communicator. Partners also often learn to support each other in new ways. It is not uncommon for conflict to arise in therapy sessions. An ethical marriage counsellor will remain neutral and avoid taking sides. Some marriage counsellors offer supplemental individual sessions to each partner as a standard part of treatment. Others may offer individual sessions upon request.  


Relationship counselling is generally held once a week. The schedule can vary depending on the couple’s goals and whether each partner is also attending individual or group therapy sessions. Couples counselling is offered in a variety of settings, including private practices, university counselling centres, and group practices. 


Marriage counselling is often short-term, though healing a relationship may take more time. Ultimately, couples therapy will continue for as long as the couple is committed to completing the treatment plan or until they reach a resolution.


Any couple with a history together may benefit from relationship counselling. Couples may seek counseling to resolve relationship issues, gain insight into the dynamics of their relationship, strengthen their emotional bonds, or find amicable ways to bring their relationship to an end. Premarital counseling is available for individuals who are engaged to be married. 


  1. Christensen, A., Atkins, D.C., Baucom, B., and Yi, J. (2010). Marital status and satisfaction five years following a randomized clinical trial comparing traditional versus integrative behavioral couple therapy. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 78, 225-235.

  2. Gurman, A. S., and Fraenkel, P. (2002). The history of couple therapy: A millennial review. Family Process, 41(2), 199-260. Retrieved from

  3. Premarital counseling. (2014, November 25). Retrieved from 

  4. Seldon, L. (2013, July 8). Premarital counseling: The pros and cons. Retrieved from

  5. Tasker, R. (n.d.). 9 best couples counseling techniques and why you should try them. Retrieved from

  6. Weil, Elizabeth. (2012, March 2). Does couples therapy work? The New York Times. Retrieved from

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