Counseling is only helpful if the person/people participating is/are really interested in making changes and/or supporting their partner in their changes.
Having said that….. I think almost ANY issue would be able to be resolved with good counseling. Sometimes, though, the *resolution* isn’t always what you wanted it to be when you began counseling.
*Couples* or relationship counseling is a bit different than *individual* counseling…. in that relationship counseling doesn’t necessarily assign “blame” on one person. It looks more at the dynamic of the *relationship* and how to make the *relationship* meet the goals of the couple. *Individual* counseling will help ONE of you make decisions, change behavior in order to determine if you can/should stay in the relationship (or whatever you are looking at that led you to seek counseling). So, for example, in the case of an angry teen (easiest example) individual counseling would work with the teen on HER responses to people and HER feelings about whatever. Family counseling would look at how she interacts with her mother (or whomever) and would try to coach EACH of them to be more effective in how they communicate. Which means that EACH person has to do some of the *work* even though to look at the teen, she is mouthy and moody. make sense?
How it works……for couples counseling typically you will go in and give some history. What brought you there, what are you goals for the relationship, what do you think you are doing to help the relationship, what concerns do you have? That kind of thing. If there is a specific issue that let you to seek counseling you should disclose that at the first session.
Then, the counselor should meet with each of you individually. They’ll go a little bit more in depth with each person.
Then you meet again as a couple. At that session (so it would be the 4th session) the counselor will sortof give an overview of what they think would be the most effective path. They’ll ask for input and if you guys are willing to do that.
From there…. the success of counseling is really up to the couple. Are you ready to do the work? Are you ready to look at YOUR OWN behaviors and how you help/hurt the success of the relationship. Effective *couples* counseling should NEVER be about getting one person to change. Even if the *issues* are skewed (ie – physical abuse or drug use) the other person has been functioning in that dynamic…. so they have as much (if not sometimes more) WORK to do to change they way they have reacted so that a healthy dynamic can begin to develop.
I will say, for me, couples counseling was not effective for THAT relationship (the one I was in when we sought counseling). However, it has made a world of difference in my life and my current relationship. It enabled me to look at ME, which is the only part that I can control, and that has given me the ability to understand how to look for a partner (of any sort) that is healthy and complements me rather than continuing dysfunctional cycles.