Therapy used to be a word and situation of which some people were afraid. More recently it seems many people are “in therapy” and it’s probably a really good and healthy thing. So whether it’s your marriage that is in a tough place, you’re wondering if you’re doing the right “things” to help your children, or you have a special needs family and you feel like you’re floundering; consider therapy to get “life” in order. And if you’re not sure how that looks, please continue reading:
Some people THINK therapy is simply talking about your problems to a therapist. And in part that is true. But there is so much more to it and in a very brief summary, we’d like to share some thoughts that might have you thinking, “I could use a little help by going to therapy.” So let’s ever so briefly share why you might need therapy and how it might help:
What therapy ACTUALLY is:
1-Talking about your problems to a therapist.
CONSIDER IF YOUR ISSUES (marital, personal, family, emotional, etc.) ARE
- HARD ISSUES
- SOFT ISSUES
(At our website you can learn how to secure a therapist that is good for you and will be helpful: https://cindiferrini.com/index.php/when-your-marriage-needs-help/)
WHEN YOUR MARRIAGE/LIFE NEEDS HELP!
We get questions each week from folks who have deeper “hard marriage/life issues” than we can handle. We are not certified counselors and want to make sure you get the help you need from those trained to help. Those who have “soft marriage issues” will possibly benefit from mentoring. Please read below to find the help you need:
HARD MARRIAGE ISSUES often need COUNSELING THERAPY (and often one is interested in help but not the other):
- Abuse – emotional, physical, verbal
- Addictions – Sexual, drugs, alcohol, etc.
- Lack of intimacy – sexually
- And there are more….fill in YOUR blank_______
Also at the link above we have book recommendations for these and other issues…
If you’ve decided you have hard marriage issues, then find a counselor to help you.
Find a counselor who is a certified COUNSELOR for your area of need. (Some counselors specialize. Are they drug counselors? Marriage counselors? Family counselors?) Ask others where they’ve had success. Be sure the counselor can handle the topic with which you are dealing – interview them. Tell them your main issues and seek someone who can speak to these issues. Being specific helps them to know where to send you. Otherwise, you risk of not being able to get to the root of the problem for a long time. Don’t waste time and money. SEARCH to find a good fit.
(We have suggestions how to find one on our website at the link shared above.)
ANY COUNSELOR WHO TELLS YOU AFTER 3 VISITS THAT YOU SHOULD DIVORCE IS NOT WORTH GOING TO. FIND SOMEONE WHO WANTS YOUR MARRIAGE TO WORK AND WILL DO THE WORK WITH YOU TO MAKE IT FOR THE LONG HAUL! The same goes for any issue you’re dealing with. Quitting after 3 visits isn’t long enough to really know.
REMEMBER: The longer you wait the more isolated you’ll become. Don’t wait. Divorce is NOT the only option.
SOFT MARRIAGE/LIFE ISSUES often need MENTORING:
Mentoring can happen when BOTH spouses want to move forward and who are BOTH making progress in a forward direction and whose issues are more in line with what we call “soft marriage issues,” like:
- learning to communicate better
- feeling like you’re not on the same page but want to be
- needing to learn how to talk nicely or being a better listener
2-Psychological Education=mental, emotional, social, and spiritual health
- HEALTHY Relationship building
A HEALTHY MARRIAGE (according to counselor/author Leslie Vernick) is MUTUALLY honest, MUTUALLY respectful, and MUTUALLY caring. You need all 3 for your marriage to be healthy. If just ONE is missing, you have a UNHEALTHY marriage.
- Assessing PROBLEMS you’re having
- Setting goals to a healthy marriage
3-Tasks and actions to take between sessions
(It’s not just FINDING a reason for your problems, like “ANGER” but learning HOW to handle it and what to do with it. Identifying it is part one; doing something about it is part two.)
- Being mindful – acknowledging
- Being intentional – to work at it
- Journaling about how it’s going (what works/what doesn’t)
- Get out of your comfort zone to work on things
- Learning compassion
- Recognizing and acknowledging your feelings and owning them
- Developing a helpful daily routine to work on things
- Practicing things you’re learning
4-Building Awareness of your thoughts – “what are my needs? Safety? Purpose?”
- Is the situation abusive? (Threatening? Harmful? Controlling?)
- Are adjustments needing to be made? (Less stress, for example)
- Anxiety levels (what is causing it? What can make it better?)
- Depression (Identifying it specifically.)
5-Making Changes to your thoughts and behaviors
- Am I selfish?
- Am I prideful and don’t want to change?
- Am I stubborn and don’t want to change?
- Am I easily offended?
- Am I able to make good decisions? Is my decision making good?
- Am I impulsive?
6-Learning and practicing coping strategies
- Like stress (from trauma; PTSD)
- Do I have supportive relationships (not just telling you what you WANT to hear.)
- Do I need to lower my expectation? Do I need to “up” what my responsibilities are?
- Learning to ask other so help.
- Do I know how to problem solve well?
- Where does my faith based life fit in?
- Taking breaks to unwind? (ex: away for the news)
- Taking care of myself (diet, health) NOT being selfish!
- Drugs and alcohol….are not healthy coping strategies. (Medicines for mental illness or health management may be needed.)
While this is a start, it isn’t comprehensive and starting therapy will be the first step to getting the help you want and need. Don’t wait. Get started now! Feel better sooner and have a meaningful direction that is helpful and healthy!
Dr. Joe and Cindi Ferrini share their newest book: Love All-Ways: Embracing Marriage Together on the Special Needs Journey (order at www.cindiferrini.com). They are authors, speakers, and bloggers for several blogging sites on marriage, family and special needs. They spoke nationally for FamilyLife Weekend To Remember Marriage Get-a-Ways for 20 years, authored *Unexpected Journey – When Special Needs Change our Course, and have been interviewed on Focus on the Family, FamilyLife Today, Janet Parshall at “In the Market”, Chris Brooks of “Equipped” and various other radio and television venues. Connect with them at:
and via social media at: