Help: My partner won’t come to therapy!

IMPORTANT: This blog is not a substitute for therapy, but provides evidenced-based education for the purposes of self-help, or to compliment the therapeutic process. ​ ​This blog is non-monetized.

In my clinical and coaching practice,  I often hear this complaint or concern from clients:  they often say that their partner feels counselling will be a waste of time or they don’t want to discuss their feelings without concrete solutions.  As well, some clients say their significant other will show up just to make their partner happy, but there’s no way they’re going to be told what to do by some stranger (the counsellor).   To give the benefit of the doubt to the client’s partner, perhaps they don’t understand the value of therapy, or even how it works.  

In any event, no one can be forced to participate in counselling, and it must be remembered, willingness is the key factor for change. 

What to do?

The short answer is, you can start couples counselling on your own.

​Take the initiative to assume the lead for your partnership.  Sometimes we simply just cannot wait for the other person to get started.  This can be your opportunity to learn how to better communicate and resolve conflicts and better connect with your other half.   Ideally, you can restore your relationship for you and your partner and other loved ones in your family circle.  Yes, it can be argued that it would be ideal to have two people engage in the process; however, having one person in the counselling is still better than none.

Why it’s important

First of all, taking care of you becomes our number one priority.  

When we get to the point of the relationship needing an intervention, emotions have long since flared up and have taken over.  This is the very time to take care of how you are coping and feeling.  Second, by taking care of you the relationship can shift in a positive direction; working through our emotions and shifting our perspective changes how we interact with our partner.  Third, with this shift in the dynamic comes more open communication that can open the door to revisit the idea of couples counselling.

How it works

I use the G.P.S. System to support you, the client.  This is a simple way to describe how couples counselling for individuals works:

  • G = Gain Clarity
  • P = Process experiences
  • S = Strategies & tools
Image of a man on a hike holding out a compass

G: GAIN CLARITY

Consider that in some ways all relationships, happy or conflicted, are essentially a dance between two people.  Our objective is to first gain clarity and make sense of what’s actually happening in the dance between you and your partner.

In other words, we want to work together to figure out the root cause of what’s triggering the conflict, the miscommunication, and disconnection.  This necessary insight will give us direction as to what needs to be worked through emotionally and mentally, and how we will proceed with strategies to support you in your relationship.

P: PROCESS EXPERIENCES

Let alone anxiety and frustration, there are often scars and wounds that need healing in order to be able to move forward constructively.  Beneath the layer of anger and worry, we often have feelings of hurt, guilt, shame and despair that need to be processed.  

​In addition, self-defeating and negative thoughts need to shift in order to gain a new perspective.  This enables us to then move forward with solution-focused strategies that can take time and patience.  By feeling better and shifting our perspective, we can become more resilient and keep striving for a better relationship.

S: STRATEGIES AND TOOLS

There are two primary goals at this point: being calm and gaining mindfulness, so that you can more easily manage how you react too and navigate through conflict.  This includes learning how to communicate and negotiate needs, wants and expectations of each other within your relationship.  You will learn valuable tools to enable you to re-connect and re-kindle a happy relationship with your partner.

Ultimately, the goal is to go beyond conflict management and to create a more meaningful, satisfying, and secure relationship.

Image of a happy couple embracing in a field

In closing, your relationship can benefit greatly by couples counselling even when only one person decides to attend.  The key is to take care of yourself in order to be able to take care of your relationship.  This powerful act of leadership using the G.P.S system can make all the difference in restoring your most important relationships.


If you’d like a free consult with John to discuss your own unique situation, email John directly to see if it’s the right fit. Get the support you need today. ​

Learn more about couples therapy at Dig A Little Deeper, and see John’s YouTube clips, check out our Couples Therapy page. 


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John Foulkes

John is a Psychotherapist & Coach at Dig A Little Deeper, Psychotherapy & Counselling in Caledon, ON.

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