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Common Issues in Couples Therapy – Sound Familiar?

It’s a common myth that couples therapy is only for relationships that are falling apart or for marriages heading for divorce.

Couples counselling is actually better used to stop your relationship getting to such a point in the first place, and the issues most raised in the therapy room might be more familiar than you expect.

common issues couples bring to the therapy room

1. You are having a difference of opinion.

Common issues in couples counselling involve disagreements around:

Sometimes in relationships it’s all too easy to become entrenched up in your own perspective and feelings. The more you talk about things, the more you repeat the same circle of conflict.

issues in couples counselling

By: U.S. Army


The counsellor acts like a moderator, helping you through the process of seeing both sides. They don’t tell you what to do. They just guide you in exploring your feelings in a safe and calm way, recognising background issues that are behind what is going on, and really hearing each other for the first time so you can see new ways to move forward.

2. Something bad has happened and you are both struggling with it.

Common life challenges that lead couples to therapy include:

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When life throws a curve ball it would be ideal if our partners could be totally available to support us. But challenges are things we all respond to differently. You might be an emotional sort and your partner a withdrawer, for example. These differences during times of duress can lead to you feeling distant from the very person you hoped to feel closest to.


The couples therapist creates a secure environment for you to discuss the issue openly. He or she can help you avoid pitfalls that shut down connecting around the issue, such as judging or blaming each other, or projecting your own feelings onto your partner.

3. A fear that something bad will happen is affecting the relationship.

This might be any of the following:

  • fear of becoming parents
  • fear of committing
  • fear of settling down
  • fear of buying a house
  • fear of moving in together
  • fear of death and loss.

Anxiety and fear can be like a roadblock in a relationship. And it can stop you from sharing, as you just don’t want to feel even more anxious. Or perhaps are worried your partner just won’t understand.


A couples counsellor can help you see what is really driving your fear. It’s often something totally different than you think, such as another fear you are ashamed of, or even a childhood trauma that is still affecting you. The therapist helps you feel safe and supported in identifying and dealing with the real root of your anxiety.

4. A big life change has come between you.

Common issues in couples therapy that involve life change are:

When life changes for one person and not the other, there can be a sense you are suddenly living different lives. Even if you both experience the change, you might feel differently about it. Judgements and conflict can come into play, and you can drift apart. One partner might blame the other for the change even.


A couples counsellor can help you voice your opinions about the change in a helpful and constructive way. He or she can help you ask yourselves good questions about what is going on. This might lead to new perspectives and ways forward you just couldn’t see on your own.

5. You are having sex and intimacy issues.

There are many ways sex and intimacy issues can lead to couples counselling, including:

It’s easy to say such a thing shouldn’t be enough to ruin a relationship. But the tension from not talking about sex and intimacy issues can cause conflict over other things, or leave one partner feeling bitter or neglected.


Sex and intimacy issues are often a symptom, not a cause. A therapist can help you look at the thoughts and feelings that might be the real reason for your roadblocks in the bedroom. It could be a life change that has one partner so stressed they can’t connect, for example.

6. You just can’t seem to communicate anymore.

This can look like:

  • no longer sharing your feelings
  • worried your partner has secrets
  • feeling unable to trust your partner
  • hiding something from your partner and suffering guilt
  • worried that you are drifting further and further apart.

Not communicating is the cause of many other problems in relationships. And it’s quite hard to see what is going wrong by ourselves. It’s that old adage, ‘cant see the woods for the trees’. You might be:


Often if you are not communicating effectively it is because you are stuck in a strong pattern you can’t see. A therapist is trained to spot self-defeating pattern.

An example is the ‘pursuing/withdrawing’ pattern. In this pattern, if you face a difficulty then want assurance from your partner, who doesn’t understand the upset, they might think you want to much or even feel you are attacking them with your need for attention. So the more you pursue them, the more they withdraw. A therapist helps you change this to a healthy pattern that pulls you together, not apart.

Do these issues sound familiar?

If they above sounds familiar, why not try a session with a couples therapist? Harley Therapy offers highly trained and experienced couples counsellors in three London locations.

Have a question about couples therapy we have not answered? Post below.


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Blog Topics: Going to Therapy, Types of Therapy

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    Dr. Sheri Jacobson


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