Benefits and Purpose of Couples Therapy

Addiction is often referred to as a family disease because it doesn’t just impact the person using drugs or alcohol; it can have a far-reaching impact on the entire family unit.1 The effects of active addiction can dysregulate and disrupt family dynamics, especially between couples, and it is often necessary to relearn how to effectively communicate and co-exist as partners and a family as part of the recovery process.

Couples counseling can be an important part of your treatment plan. We’ll discuss couples counseling, including its benefits, how it works, how it is used in addiction treatment, and the treatment options available to you.

What Is Couples Therapy?

Couples therapy is a form of therapy that involves two people in a committed relationship, and therapy addresses the conflicts between the people and within the relationship itself.2 Couples counseling can be used to address mental health challenges, communication problems, addiction, and other issues that can negatively impact the functioning of a relationship.2

In a couples therapy program, both people in the relationship are considered to be the “client” and are treated equally.2 Each partner may have sessions individually, especially during the beginning of treatment, but for most of the course of treatment the couple will in session at the same time.2

How Does Couples Therapy Work?

Couples therapy is a structured approach that can be used as part of an overall treatment plan for substance use disorders.3 At the beginning of the therapeutic process, you can expect your therapist to obtain a history of the relationship between you and your partner. Together, you, your partner, and the clinician will work to establish goals for therapy that will be included in your treatment plan. These goals can include things like reestablishing trust with each other, establishing healthy boundaries, and improving communication.

Once your goals have been identified, your therapist will identify appropriate interventions to help you and your partner work toward them. In couples therapy in addiction treatment, your therapist will first incorporate substance-focused interventions to strengthen abstinence, then incorporate relationship-based interventions once abstinence has been achieved.3

Couple therapy sessions are highly organized and structured. During each session, the couples therapist works to:3

  • Review relationship problems and substance use.
  • Present new skills and concepts.
  • Assign homework that includes skills application.
  • Review the homework from previous sessions.

Couples Therapy in Addiction Treatment

Depending on your needs and recovery goals, couples therapy may be an important part of your treatment, especially if you, your partner, or both are struggling with addiction. Addiction therapy can include a variety of interventions, such as individual behavioral counseling, couples counseling, medications, and self-help groups.

Substance use and addiction can contribute to dysfunction in many areas of life, including your health, behavior, and decision-making, and can negatively impact your relationship. Impulsive and erratic behavior as a result of substance misuse leads to relationship instability, conflict, and stress.3 Couples counseling seeks to utilize the support of your partner to eliminate substance use by using positive reinforcement to encourage abstinence.3

Why Is Couples Therapy Important?

It may not seem like couples therapy is an important part of recovery, but it actually is. Relationships can be both a risk factor for the development of addiction and a key element in the process of recovery and prevention of relapse.1 Couples therapy is important in addiction and recovery because it:1

  • Helps motivate partners to begin and complete substance use treatment.
  • Motivates partners to maintain abstinence.
  • Helps partners reduce substance use.
  • Improves problem-solving and communication skills in the relationship.
  • Addresses issues that arose as a result of addiction.
  • Helps to restore and rebalance healthy family dynamics between the partners, husband, wife, children, or other family members.

Benefits of Couples Therapy

There are several benefits of couples therapy in addiction recovery. These include: 1

  • Improving the couple’s problem-solving skills. 1
  • Improving communication skills, like learning to express emotions in a healthy manner, using empathy, and negotiating effectively. 1
  • Recognizing enabling behaviors and finding a way to replace them with healthy and adaptive behaviors.3
  • Relapse mitigation. 1
  • Strengthening continued abstinence efforts. 1
  • Improving the outcome of addiction treatment. 1

How Effective Is Couples Therapy?

Research has demonstrated the effectiveness of couples therapy in general and as part of addiction treatment.

While more research is needed, existing studies show that:

  • Couples-based interventions for alcohol use disorders (AUDs) result in higher rates of abstinence than individual interventions.5
  • Relationship satisfaction significantly improves.6
  • Couples therapy led to a significant decrease in partner violence and other adverse consequences of addiction after 1 year.7
  • Couples counseling leads to an improvement in relationship commitment.6

Find Professional Addiction Therapy Treatment at Oxford

If you are struggling with addiction, help is available to you at Oxford Treatment Center. Contact our compassionate admissions navigators by calling 662-635-8289 to get more information about inpatient addiction treatment, rehab admissions, and the different levels of addiction treatment available to you. Our trained and caring navigators can help answer questions about drug and alcohol rehab insurance coverage or other rehab payment options.

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