Couples Counseling and the Myth of a Standardized Timeline

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There seems to be a myth surrounding the idea of couples counseling and a standard timeline, suggesting that if you go for “X” amount of visits, then your relationship will be healed and restored. Therapy doesn’t work that way, though. Sure, it is designed to try and get you and your partner talking and communicating in a healthier way, which can be typical for many couples. However, there are many issues with this idea that counseling can be so standardized.


One of the significant issues with standardization in therapy is that every couple is unique. While different couples may share some of the same problems, they will still likely require different treatments. For example, two couples seek therapy due to infidelity. One pair expresses the husband cheated because he felt like he didn’t have a place in his home. The other couple explains that the wife cheated, but that it was a side effect to the erratic behavior caused by a medical condition. While both couples express infidelity as a significant barrier in their relationship, each couple should not be treated the sam


The problem that occurs through standardization and generalization is bias, which is something most therapists strive to avoid. For example, look at the couples above. If a therapist had a strong bias that all couples should be treated the same, then both spouses above would likely go through treatment to understand why they cheated. While that may be OK for the cheating husband, the wife in the second example had no control over her decisions. Therefore, why should both undergo the same treatment?

Prescription Mindset

Suggesting that therapy can be set to a standard timeline also creates the illusion of treatment as a magic pill; if you take it as prescribed, then you should feel better in six sessions. While there is likely a standard of care, there can never be generalized treatment or a predictable timeline. Every couple is different, and their problems are unique in situation and context. Unfortunately, relationship problems are not a bacterial infection, and they cannot be treated with antibiotics.

Couples counseling can be an effective treatment as long as both parties are committed to seeking change. However, that change will take as long as it takes, and each person must be willing to explore their emotions truthfully and vocally. If you are interested in couples therapy, then contact a local couples counselor, like a couples counselor in Palatine, IL, and set up an appointment to assess your relationship and goals.

Thanks to Lotus Wellness Center for their insight into the myths associated with couples counseling.