Couples Therapy For Anxiety: Is It Worthwhile?

If you or your spouse struggles with general anxiety disorder, you have a wide variety of options for treatment, including medications, light therapy, and counseling. Counseling can be effective one-on-one for the person diagnosed with anxiety, but couples' therapy can also be useful. If you want to support your spouse as they learn to live with anxiety, here are some reasons to consider couples' therapy as well as one-on-one counseling sessions. 

1. Learn more about anxiety triggers. 

Anxiety is triggered by many different experiences, and these can vary by person and by the stage of life they are in. If your spouse struggles to identify their triggers, you might feel like you're always treading on thin ice. When you go to couples' counseling, you can both speak to the counselor about times where anxiety has caused problems in the past and help pin down things that might cause anxious episodes in the future. 

2. Practice communication styles to help during anxious episodes.

You can support your partner during times of intense anxiety better if you know and practice what to say. Sometimes, the fear a person experiences is not rational, and it can be hard for a partner to take it seriously. A couples' therapist is there to teach you ways to communicate to your spouse during times of heightened fear and emotion. You might learn strategies such as motivational interviewing, using calming phrases you come up with together in a session, and using touch instead of words to help reduce anxiety. 

3. Learn ways to strengthen your relationship.

Anxiety can be a burden on any relationship. You might feel like you don't know how to move forward with your goals as a couple because mental health problems are holding you back. Talking with a counselor about arguments, stressors, and other sensitive points in your relationship can help you to work through them so that you and your spouse are less stressed on a daily basis. You can also make goals for intimacy, for spending time together, and for prioritizing work and home life for more balance. 

4. Create a safe space to talk about how anxiety in your spouse affects you.

Anxiety doesn't just affect your spouse; it affects you. You may feel worn out, strained, or frustrated because you can't do more to help. Couples' therapy is a space where you can speak freely about those emotions without making your spouse feel guilty or ashamed. Your therapist can recommend ways for you to preserve your own mental health while your partner works through theirs.