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Individual or Couples Counseling: Which is Right for You?

Amanda Gregory, LCPC, EMDR Practitioner

You’re ready to participate in counseling, but you’re not sure which type of counseling would best meet your needs. When you’re experiencing both individual and relationship issues, it’s difficult to know whether to choose individual or couples counseling. Consider the following points when making your decision.

Individual Counseling

You may benefit from individual counseling if:

  • You want to participate in counseling, but your partner does not.
  • You need to be your counselor’s main focus. You can address any and all relationship issues in individual counseling, but all counseling goals are on focused on your needs—not the needs of your partner.
  • You have individual needs that must be addressed in order to improve your relationship with your partner. A few examples of issues that could be addressed in individual counseling are anxiety, depression, anger, trauma, stress, grief and loss, eating or body image, alcohol and drug problems, attention/hyperactivity, self-esteem, work-life balance, and life transitions.
  • You are already participating in couples, family, or group counseling and you want a counselor to focus more on your individual needs. In this case, inform your current counselor, who can provide you with a referral to an individual counselor if needed.
  • You need your own counselor, separate from your couple’s counselor, so you can discuss confidential issues and feel safe in the counseling relationship.

Couples Counseling

You may benefit from couples counseling if:

  • You and your partner are both willing to participate in couples counseling.
  • You need your relationship with your partner to be your counselor’s main focus. Individual needs can be addressed in couples counseling, but all counseling goals are focused on the relationship.
  • You need to address specific couple issues, such as trust, communication, intimacy, infertility, infidelity, newlywed adjustment, pregnancy, parenting, adoption, divorce, and family financial stress.
  • You or your partner need to learn about the other partner’s mental health needs or understand how to support a partner who has specific mental health needs, or one partner needs emotional support from the other during the counseling process.
  • You and your partner understand that you’ll both be required to make changes—not just one of you—as the relationship involves you both. If only one person needs to make changes, then individual counseling should be considered.

Individual and Couples Counseling—the Best of Both Worlds

Good news! You don’t have to choose. You can participate in both individual and couples counseling if that’s what you need. Many people decide that they need both, and they have two separate counselors who provide each service.

Here’s a couple of things to consider if you wish to participate in individual and couples counseling:

  • Would you like your two counselors to communicate? This could benefit your treatment, as it allows the counselors to create a comprehensive treatment plan. It’s not automatic, however, and you will need to sign a release before any communication can occur.
  • How frequently will your funding source (insurance, Employee Assistance Program, etc.) cover sessions? Some will cover two sessions a week, so clients can choose to attend individual and couples counseling in the same week. Other sources will cover one session a week, so clients attend individual and couples counseling every other week—seeing one counselor one week and the other the next. It’s worth discussing this with both your funding source and your counselors, as some agencies have self-pay and sliding-scale options for additional sessions that are not covered.

Which would best meet your needs—individual or couples counseling? Or both? Symmetry Counseling provides individual and couples counseling and supports clients who wish to benefit from both services. Symmetry Counseling also provides self-pay and sliding-scale options. Contact Symmetry Counseling to schedule your first individual or couples counseling session today.

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