When He Says “NO” to Counselling - How to Deal with a Partner Who Won’t Go to Therapy

By Rebecca Lewis on October 05, 2012

Marriage breakdown, as one High Court Judge has said, is the most destructive scourges in UK. Just recently, a survey revealed that Britain has the highest divorce rate in EU.

Every relationship has its ups and downs, and twists and turns. While it always begins with a euphoric feeling, many things may come along the way and tear the relationship apart. One of the best ways to prevent breaking up is to seek professional help. But admit it – not everyone is comfortable with it. Not every couple would consider seeing a counsellor to try “work things out”.

Things get really difficult for a partner who is so trying to fix the problem but the other one wouldn’t dare to mind. What if one wants to see a counsellor but the other one refuses?

If you are in the very same situation, here is the first and MOST important thing to do – don’t give up.

Why he wouldn’t go counselling

But before taking steps to encourage your partner to seek professional help, there are some important things you should know. In most cases, some people refuse to attend counselling with their partners for the following reasons:

They are in denial that something is wrong. Of course, when a person thinks nothing is wrong, then definitely, he will find no reason why something should be fixed. Sometimes, resistance is none but a form of fear. It is possible that your partner is too afraid to admit that the relationship is in danger. Don’t ever think that just because your partner refuses, he is no longer interested to make your relationship better. Just like you, he is also hurt. But more often, this negative feeling is denied and the person shows his resistance by not participating at all.

They’re afraid of not being able to express themselves. Your partner may not be as confident as you are to state his case to the therapist. It really takes a lot of courage for some people to talk to someone they hardly know and talk about their personal views. Your partner may have refused because he feels extremely anxious just by the thought of speaking up and confiding with a therapist.

They worry that they might be put in blame. It is also possible that your partner thinks you are asking a professional to help him identify his flaws and shortcomings in the relationship. The fear of being blamed for the problem can be too overwhelming to handle that sometimes, a person would rather choose to keep silent and ignore seeking help.

There are many other reasons, including misconceptions about the role of counselling in fixing relationship problems, fear of being embarrassed in front of the counsellor, the cost, etc. Never assume that he refuses just because he does. For sure, there must be a reason.

What can be done?

If your partner refuses to see a counsellor with you, the first step is to know why. Whatever the issue is, it is always a must that you both sit down and talk about it. Take some time to discuss with your partner why he doesn’t want attending a relationship counselling. 

After understanding his side, express yours. Try to make your views specific without sounding too demanding. Explain some of the issues you are dealing within the relationship that counselling may be able to address. This stage is crucial because your aim is to influence his thinking and not dominate it. Don’t make him feel you are accusing or blaming him. Make him understand that you want the two of you to see a therapist together because you believe the problems would be fixed easier if both of you will work on them. Often, partners who realise that counselling is not about pointing fingers or knowing who the bad one is are encouraged to see a therapist.

Yet he refuses, now what?

If after all the trying he still doesn’t want, you can still go for counselling alone. Although you might feel it is so unfair that your partner appears to care less, seeing a therapist all by yourself can still benefit you in many ways. For instance, you may use the therapy to gain more awareness and understanding of your own personal issues that could be contributing to the worsening of your relationship. Too often, people are not aware of how certain behaviours could negatively impact or hurt someone else’s feelings. A good therapist will help you become a better person, and a better partner.

Sooner or later, you will see a big difference in your relationship. You are becoming in control of the relationship without your partner knowing it. It’s like dancing. When the other one shifts the rhythm, the other one unconsciously follows. Seeing a big change in you, your partner is likely to start doing his share in resolving the problems. Who knows? You might find him driving to the therapist office, with you.


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