Pregnancy can put strain on a relationship in a number of ways. In some cases, a pregnancy highlights problems that already existed between a couple, whereas in others, it's the pregnancy itself which is the source of the conflict. When preparing for childbirth, it's important to have a certain degree of harmony between yourself and your partner, if indeed he will be your birth "coach" when the time comes. So if you are experiencing any conflict or problems in your relationship, it would probably be best to address them now, before the process of labor and delivery begins. A healthy way to do this, which would hopefully avoid arguments and added stress during your pregnancy, would be to attend couples counseling.
You can visit the website of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy for more information on premarital counseling and relationship counseling. You don't have to be married to attend counseling sessions with a relationship therapist. The job of the counselor is to take on a supportive role in helping you get to the source of your relationship problems and seek out solutions - he or she will not judge you for not being married, for not being happy, or for being pregnant and in a relationship that is not "stable." Counselors offering couples therapy are professionals in the area of mental health, who have specialized in psychotherapy and family systems. This allows them to treat emotional problems and mental health issues within relationships and families - including pregnancy-related issues. Studies have found that counseling does help couples to resolve their problems and stay together in the long term.
Costs Of Couples Counseling
The spectrum of prices charged by marriage therapists in the United States is very wide. Most counselors charge per session, and the price can be anywhere between $75 and $200. The sessions will include a mixture of "couples" sessions with the therapist as well as individual sessions, which partners attend separately. In many cases, and particularly when working with low income families, therapists will charge an income appropriate rate. The wealthiest clients generally pay the highest prices. There are some couples counselors who will accept health insurance to cover the costs of their services.
Couples Counseling Techniques
The techniques used by marriage counselors are primarily aimed at improving communication between two partners. There are a number of ways to do this, and each counselor has his or her preferred methods, which are usually methods that have had success with in the past. A good counselor is prepared to adapt his or her strategy to the needs of the couple in question, and may therefore use a combination of several different techniques.
Here are a couple of examples of techniques you might encounter in a couples counseling session.
The Empty Chair
Each partner performs this exercise separately (i.e. the other partner is not present at this session). He or she sits opposite the empty chair and imagines that the partner is sitting in it. He or she then "talks" to the partner, communicating his or her feelings about the issues in question, and then role plays the partner's response. This technique can help people to understand their own feelings about a certain situation, and creates empathy with the partner's feelings.
In an effort to improve communication, a therapist may encourage the couple to brainstorm, in a non-judgmental way, for ideas on how to improve their relationship and rectify negative external problems that are affecting it. The therapist acts as a mediator during this process. This helps to improve talking and listening skills, even if not all the ideas the couple comes up with are effective in the end.
Online Couples Counseling
The internet has changed how we communicate in many ways, and one of these changes is the phenomenon of online couples counseling. If you search the internet, it's easy to find sites offering such services. Generally, you have to sign up and provide some background to your situation. The counseling sessions then take place via Skype or a similar software program that allows you to talk using a web cam via the internet. This means that you can see and hear the therapist and he or she can see and hear you during the sessions. Some couples prefer this type of counseling because they have busy schedules and it means they can attend counseling in the privacy of their own home. On the other hand, some therapists do not approve of online counseling. They believe it isn't possible for a therapist to establish a healthy and trusting relationship with his or her clients over the internet.