Should I do Individual or Couples Counseling?
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Should I do Individual or Couples Counseling?



Recent research from the Centers for Disease Control revealed that 19.2 percent of adults had received mental health treatment in the last year. Research from MidAmerica Nazarene University reveals that 49 percent of married couples have also sought out couples counseling.


Many people know that they need to seek help, but they’re on the fence about whether they need to go to couples counseling or work with a therapist on their own. For those who are in this situation, the answers to the following questions may clear things up.




I Have Problems in My Relationship, but also Personal Issues. How Do I Know Whether to Start with Couples Counseling or Individual Therapy?


Some people benefit from receiving individual counseling before going through couples counseling. Individual sessions with a therapist allow them to work on specific issues that might hold them back from making progress in couples therapy, such as anxiety.


A person may know for sure that they have personal issues. Thus, it can be beneficial for them to go to therapy on their own for a few sessions before they start going to couples counseling. They might even suggest that their partner sees a therapist on their own as well.


On the other hand, for those who are on the fence and nervous about individual therapy, beginning with couples counseling might be a better choice. A couples counselor can then let them know if they think individual therapy is needed.




What Issues Are Better Treated in Individual Therapy?


Certain issues, including mental health challenges, might be better treated in individual therapy.


For example, if someone is struggling with imposter syndrome, they may be better helped in individual therapy. Issues like anxiety, depression, substance abuse, or anger management issues also are regularly covered in individual counseling.




When Are Better Treated in Couples Counseling?


Couples face a wide variety of problems. This includes infidelity, a lack of communication, child-rearing of family-blending challenges, or sexual difficulties, couples therapists are often better equipped to help. Couples Counseling is also better for people seeking Premarital Counseling or Discernment Counseling.


These therapists will work with both partners to get to the bottom of their issues. Also, they’ll collaborate to come up with solutions that work for both partners.




What Happens if I Choose the Wrong One?


If, after a couple sessions, a person or couple feels that they’re not making progress, they can always switch therapists and start working with someone new. The American Psychological Association recommends using their search tools. This may streamline the search and find a therapist who seems like a good fit faster.




Is it Unethical for My Personal Therapist to Also Be My Couples Therapist (or Vice Versa)?


A personal therapist can also serve as a couples therapist, and vice versa. However, according to this report published by the Eastern Group Therapy Society, before someone decides to take this approach, they need to make sure that their partner is okay with it.


For example, consider a wife who has been meeting individually with a therapist. She then decides that she also wants to start doing couples therapy with her husband and that same therapist.


Both partners must then decide whether or not they can handle an imbalance of access. Will the wife continue seeing the therapist individually in addition to couples sessions? How does the husband feel about that?


For some partners, this may be frustrating or may cause them to feel ganged up on when they’re all meeting together. The therapist can minimize these feelings, though, by setting clear boundaries and establishing ground rules during the first session.




Can You Have Several Therapists?


For those who have trouble sharing a therapist, it may be smarter to work with individual therapists.


It’s perfectly okay to have several therapists for individual and couples counseling. In fact, it may even help certain people to progress faster.


Working with multiple therapists can get expensive. The average therapy cost ranges from $100-$200 per session. It’s important for those who are considering it to check with their insurance provider before doing so.


Man in therapy


Do I Need Both Individual and Couples Therapy?


For those who are not struggling with personal mental health challenges (anxiety, depression, etc.) but are dealing with issues in their relationship, couples counseling alone might be sufficient. If personal and relationship struggles are present, though, both individual and couples counseling may be more effective.





Disclaimer: ALL IN Therapy Clinic aims to improve people’s lives. We do this by providing effective mental health counseling by passionate professionals. Further, we make information for your own education. Also, our content is researched, cited, reviewed, and edited by licensed mental health professionals. However, information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Additionally, it should not be used in place of the advice of a qualified healthcare provider.




Written and reviewed by

Dr Kyle Zrenchik, PhD, ACS, LMFT

Dr. Kyle Zrenchik is the Co-Founder of ALL IN, the Creator of the Couples Erotic Flow model for treating sexual issues in individuals and couples, Designer of the Deep Dive programs at ALL IN, and is one of the most well-respected couples counselors in the Twin Cities.

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