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March 21, 2024

Definition of couples therapy

Hey there! So, you and your spouse are considering seeking help for your relationship, but you’re not quite sure where to start. Should you investigate couples coaching or couples therapy? What are the crucial differences between coaching for couples and couples therapy sessions?  Well, let’s break it down for you. In this article, we’ll explore the distinctions between couples coaching and therapy, helping you determine which option might best suit you and your partner.

Key Takeaways

  • Couples therapy and couples coaching are both resources for emotional wellbeing and life satisfaction. 
  • Couples coaching is about helping you and your partner improve communication, learn to resolve conflict, set goals, and work together toward a better future.
  • Couples therapy is more helpful for couples who are dealing with deeper emotional wounds, unresolved issues from childhood, or past traumas that are affecting their relationship. 
  • Choosing the right coach or therapist for you is critical to the process. 


A quick look at couples coaching and couples therapy

Couples coaching and therapy both aim to help couples improve their relationships, but they have different approaches and focuses. Couples coaching typically focuses on helping couples set and achieve goals, improve communication, and work towards a better future together. On the other hand, couples therapy often delves into past traumas, unresolved issues, and deeper emotional wounds that may be affecting the relationship.

Importance of seeking help for relationship issues

Both couples coaching and therapy can be valuable tools for couples facing relationship challenges. Couples coaching may be beneficial for couples who are looking to improve specific aspects of their relationship and work towards achieving specific goals. On the other hand, couples therapy may be more suitable for couples who are dealing with deeper emotional wounds, unresolved personal issues from childhood, or past traumas that are affecting their relationship.

Ultimately, the best option for you and your spouse will depend on your individual needs and goals. It’s important to carefully consider what you hope to achieve through seeking help for your relationship and choose a professional who aligns with those goals. Whether you opt for couples coaching or therapy, taking the step to seek help is a positive move toward strengthening your relationship and building a healthier future together.


What is Couples Coaching?

Definition of couples coaching

Let’s start with couples coaching. What exactly is couple’s coaching? Well, think of it like having a personal trainer for your relationship. Couples coaching is all about helping you and your partner set goals, improve communication, and work together towards a better future. It’s like having a guide by your side to support you in making positive changes in your relationship. A couples coach will help you identify areas where you want to grow and provide you with tools and strategies to achieve those goals. It’s a proactive approach to strengthening your bond with your partner and creating a more fulfilling relationship. Unlike a therapist, your coach will often share personal experiences and stories to inspire and encourage you.  So, if you’re looking to make specific improvements in your relationship and work towards a brighter tomorrow together, couples coaching might be the way to go!

Focus on improving communication and problem-solving skills

Alright, let’s talk about one of the key aspects of couples coaching: improving communication and problem-solving skills. We all know that communication is essential in any relationship, right? But sometimes, we may not be communicating as effectively as we think we are. That’s where couples coaching comes in.

  • During couples coaching sessions, you and your partner will learn how to communicate more openly, honestly, and effectively with each other. You’ll work on understanding each other’s perspectives, expressing your needs and desires clearly, and listening attentively without judgment. Your coach will provide you with tools and techniques to enhance your communication skills so that you can navigate conflicts and disagreements more constructively.
  • Additionally, couples coaching will also focus on developing problem-solving skills. You and your partner will learn how to work together to find solutions to challenges that arise in your relationship. You’ll learn how to navigate disagreements, make decisions together, and collaborate effectively. By improving your communication and problem-solving skills, you’ll be better equipped to handle conflicts and challenges in a healthy and constructive way, ultimately strengthening your bond with your partner.
  • You will be able to consolidate your individual life goals in a way that is complementary to your future goals, whether they are career goals, personal goals, or other life goals.
  • Another key focus of couples coaching is building trust Trust is the foundation of any healthy relationship, and couples coaching can help you and your partner strengthen that foundation. Through exercises, discussions, and activities, you’ll work on rebuilding trust if it has been damaged, creating a safe space for vulnerability and honesty, and fostering a deeper connection with each other.
  • Couple’s coaching can also help you enhance intimacy in your relationship. Intimacy goes beyond just physical closeness; it’s about emotional health, understanding, and support. Your coach will guide you in exploring ways to deepen your emotional connection with your partner, reignite the spark in your relationship, and create meaningful moments together. By focusing on building trust and intimacy in your relationship, couples coaching can help you and your partner feel more connected, understood, and supported.


What is Couples Therapy?

Definition of couples therapy

Couples therapy, also known as marriage counseling or relationship counseling, is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on helping partners to heal from past hurt and traumatic experiences. It is designed for those experiencing mental health challenges.  These experiences have often cause emotional walls to be built by one or both of you and which prevent you from freely loving and trusting one another.

  •  Couples therapy is typically conducted by licensed therapists or counselors who have specialized training in working with mental health issues and emotional disorders. 
  • The focus is on addressing underlying issues and past traumas in couples therapy.  In couples therapy, the therapist will work with you and your partner to explore the root causes of your conflicts,
  •  A good therapist is adept at identifying and treating mental health conditions.
  • As a rule, therapists will not share their personal stories or life experiences with you, and most of the time will not be as directive with their comments. 

 Goals of couples coaching vs goals of therapy

When it comes to couples coaching, the goals are all about building and enhancing your relationship skills. You’ll focus on improving communication, problem-solving, trust, and intimacy with your partner. The idea is to strengthen your bond and create a more harmonious and connected relationship.

On the other hand, the goals of couples therapy are centered around healing past hurts and traumas that may be affecting your relationship. Therapists aim to help you understand and address underlying issues that are causing conflicts between you and your partner. The goal is to work through these challenges in a safe and supportive environment to promote healing and growth.

Differences between therapists and coaches

  • Therapists, as a part of their therapy practice, treat mental illness and coaches build mental fitness. 

The biggest difference is that therapists are trained to address mental health conditions and work on healing past hurts, while coaches focus on building mental fitness and enhancing relationship skills. So, if you’re looking to tackle deep-rooted issues from your past, effective therapy might be the way to go. But if you want to work on improving communication, trust, and intimacy with your partner, and developing your emotional skills, life coaching could be a better fit for you.

  • Both life coaches and therapists are invested in helping you to achieve long-term change and to create healthy relationships and a healthier life and can be viewed as healthcare professionals with ethical standards. 
  • Therapists, as mental health professionals, generally have more education and credentialing, having a degree in counseling and having passed a licensing board. 
  • Most coaches, while not providing mental health care, are trained and certified professionals who provide effective strategies and a distinct service for their clients. Most have been through certification programs and received a coaching certification. 
  • Research and, if possible, interview the coach or therapist that you are considering and make sure that they are a fit for you and your spouse.

Get Help Now

If you and your partner are struggling in your relationship, don’t wait until it is too late to get help. Ultimately, the key difference between couples coaching and therapy is the focus: coaching is more about building skills and improving your relationship dynamics, while therapy is about mental health treatment- healing and resolving deeper emotional issues. Both can be beneficial for couples seeking to strengthen their bond and create a healthier, more fulfilling relationship.

If you would like to discuss your situation and explore Love Recon life coaching services and our coaching strategies, call the number below and schedule a free, 30-minute session with one of our coaches.  We can also share with you the special resources for our coaching clients in our coaching program.


About the author 

Cliff Poe

Cliff Poe is Founder and Lead Coach for Recon Coaching. He and his wife, Jeani, are Master Coaches and their passion is to help individuals and couples form healthy, lasting and satisfying relationships. Cliff has a M.Div. in pastoral counseling and ministry. He enjoys writing and coaching as well as his family which includes 2 adult kids and their spouses, 6 grandchildren and a fur family composed of a Golden Retriever and a Mackerel Tabby.

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