Is Your Valentine's Day Looking Bittersweet?

Valentine’s Day can present a challenge to anyone who is struggling in his or her relationship. There may be heightened pressure to focus on how the relationship compares with an ideal, when what it really may need is help moving past its less-than-ideal characteristics. If you would like to improve your current relationship, now may be the perfect time to seek couples counseling. Staff Therapist Ryan Crawford, MS, LMFTA, believes that every couple can benefit from therapy.

Couples counseling often is beneficial because it allows the individuals within the relationship to get the perspective of a third, relatively unbiased party. A licensed therapist can help improve communication and teach people how to be more productive in dealing with existing problems, as well as how to address new problems that may arise. Therapy can be structured around specific problems and goals, or it can start with a general desire to improve things. The reasons people seek couples counseling vary, from communication problems, parenting disagreements, lack of acceptance by extended family, financial stress, dealing with life changes, health issues, sexual problems, substance abuse issues, etc.

“Building healthy relationships can be especially difficult for members of our GLBT communities because many of us grew up without positive relationship role models,” says Crawford. “Many of us learned how to have relationships through trial and error.” The process is made even more difficult when GLBT relationships are not accepted and affirmed by mainstream society. As the primary mental health provider of Houston’s GLBT communities, our experienced therapists can help.

Couples counseling varies from individual therapy because its goal is to improve the relationship, although it often involves addressing the individuals’ problems too. “Couples counseling gave me a new way of seeing my issues and the problems that I needed to work on. My partner and I have been doing much better now, and when we do have problems, we work on them with respect towards one another. We have grown closer and wiser because of the services we received from MCC,” says one client.

Crawford suggests that couples seek counseling as soon as possible after identifying problems within a relationship. “Often, the sooner a couple seeks help, the more beneficial counseling can be,” says Crawford, “Most people don’t see the need for therapy until they experience long-term problems for which they haven’t been able to find solutions. However, counseling can also benefit new relationships because it can help people learn about each other, work through past relationship issues, break unhealthy patterns, and just generally start off on the right foot.”

For more information about couples counseling, or to start the process by scheduling an intake appointment, please call 713.529.0037.