Chapel Hill Couples Therapy

Couples Therapy in Chapel Hill, NC—Relationship Help from a Couples Therapist

The VH1 show Couples Therapy follows six celebrity couples each season as they work on their relationship. A staff of highly trained couples counselors leads them through different exercises. The reality show focuses upon the drama—which couples will stay together and which will split. In many ways, couples therapy is very different than the show, but in some important ways, it is the same. The show has highlighted the fact that all couples struggle. It is normal to disagree, conflict, and struggle in a relationship. The show also highlights how it is important to reach out for help.

“Nobody can predict the future. You just have to give your all to the relationship you’re in and do your best to take care of your partner, communicate and give them every last drop of love you have. I think one of the most important things in a relationship is caring for your significant other through good times and bad.”
—Nick Cannon

Many times, giving your all to the relationship looks like asking a therapist or counselor to guide you and your partner through rough waters. Couples therapy can be a safe place for partners to grow personally and within the relationship. It may also be a place where couples can transition their relationship to a friendship in a peaceable and amicable way.

The counselors and therapists at Thriveworks Counseling in Chapel Hill work hard to make couples therapy a safe place for each partner. Many couples have found our staff an invaluable aid as they explored their relationship. No one can predict the future, but the professionals at Thriveworks have helped many couples grow stronger as individuals and as partners.

Couples Therapy and 4 Relationship Problems

Psychologist Dr. John Gottman famously studied couples and whether their relationships would persist. In his decades of research, he identified four relationship problems that are particularly toxic. The called these The Four Horsemen, and they are criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling. When these are present in a relationship, the couple will often end their relationship. Here is what they look like in a relationship:

  • Criticism — Partners can voice a complaint or a critique in a respectful way, but criticism attacks the person. For example, a respectful complaint would be, “I felt nervous when I saw money had been withdrawn from our account, and I did not know what the money was used for.” A criticism looks like, “you are so irresponsible with our finances. Do you want to ruin us?” Can you hear the difference? It is the difference between partners solving a problem together, and partners being on opposite sides of a conflict.
  • Defensiveness — When a partner uses excuses to answer a respectful criticism, then this is defensiveness. Instead of accepting responsibility for one’s actions like an adult, defensiveness puts responsibility upon circumstances and other people. For example, when one partner asks another whether they have scheduled an oil change for the car, the partner responds with defensiveness when they say, “This day has been terrible. How can you expect me to take care of that now?” Instead, a humble response would say, “I told you I would take care of that errand, and I did not. I’m sorry. It will be my priority tomorrow.”
  • Contempt — Being mean and disrespectful to a partner is acting with contempt. When one partner communications that they are smarter or better or richer or anything more than their partner, this is contempt because it also communicates that the partner is less than. In real life, contempt looks like sarcasm, eye-rolls, put-downs, mocking, and more. Dr. Gottman identifies contempt as the most dangerous horseman to any relationship.
  • Stonewalling — Denial, minimization, and withdrawal are all signs of stonewalling. When partners remove themselves from conflict instead of working together, this is stonewalling. Partners may not respond to each other, honoring each other’s needs and requests.

If you recognize any of these horsemen in your relationship, know that couples can change. They can learn new, healthier ways to relate. How?

Why Start Couples Therapy?

Skilled therapists can help couples identify the toxic patterns in their relationship and teach them coping and conflict skills they need to relate to each other in a healthy way. Here are a few of the ways that counselors may help couples:

  • Building Appreciation — Couples can learn to see their partner for who they are and appreciate their strengths.
  • Accepting Personal Responsibility — Strong couples are made of strong individuals. Each person needs to accept responsibility for their own choices, actions, and attitudes.
  • Self-Care — When each partner learns when they need breaks and how to care for their unique emotional and physical needs, the couple often flourishes.
  • Use “I” Statements — Instead of attacking a partner, explain one’s own experiences with “I” statements. For example, “I was scared… I was disappointed… I was frustrated.”

Scheduling Couples Counseling at Thriveworks in Chapel Hill, NC

If your relationship is going through a challenging time, know that you are not alone. Many couples face difficult seasons, and many couples come through those seasons stronger as individuals and as partners. Many partners lean upon a couples therapist during that time. The counselors at Thriveworks offer couples therapy, and they have appointments available. When you call our office, you and your partner may have your first appointment the following day. We offer evening and weekend appointments, and we accept many forms of insurance.

Let’s work for a healthier relationship. Call our office today.

Thriveworks Counseling Chapel Hill

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Overall Rating: 5★★★★★ based on 9 5 1 9 reviews. See all reviews
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Ariel is a compassionate, reliable, supportive counselor. The work she has done with foster children, birth families and foster families has been amazing to witness. She brings so much light and hope to the children and families she works with. She is truly a gift.
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Professional review

Ariel Harris is an excellent therapist. I have worked with her in professional settings and she is kind with clients. She has worked with a variety of clientele from all areas of life, and is knowledgeable in many topics. She is supportive of her clients and genuinely cares about helping them reach their goals and be successful. I would highly recommend her to anyone looking to improve their life.
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Counseling experience

She did an exceptional job as a counselor. She asked great questions and knew how to get to the root of the problems. Thanks!
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Cindy Goulding

Cindy Goulding is a very accomplished and experienced therapist. For Cindy, being a mental health professional is a calling not simply a job. She cares deeply about the success of her clients and makes them feel comfortable with her grounded and non-judgmental approach. Cindy is highly compassionate as a person. This is not a skill for her; it's who she is at her core. Her relentless pursuit to understand the experience and perspective of others is unmatched. Most people want a competent therapist they can trust with their most vulnerable fears, stories and relationship struggles. Cindy Goulding is a top notch choice!
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Topnotch Counseling

Cindy Goulding is a topnotch counselor. I have worked with her professionally and referred patients to her for both her personal training and her counseling skills. She has written a very nice book on how to manage weight family style.
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Exceptional character

Cindy is a very caring, honest and responsible person. She is very understanding and compassionate. Her skills are exceptionally sharp, and she has high integrity. She is very thorough and always thinking of how to resolve difficult situations. She is open-minded, non-judgmental and an asset to anyone working with her.
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Great Therapist

I am very pleased with my therapist. She provides insights to my emotions and behavior. she helps me explore new ways of thinking that helps me turn away from negativity. She helps me understand the origins of some of my behaviors. I look forward to continue working with her to help me attain a more fufilled and happy life.
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A partner through a journey

It’s difficult to say how someone can impact your life. In a short time Donna has impacted my life and helped me see there is a journey. Although the journey is not clear to me, Donna listens with a compassionate heart and deep intent. She is truly engaged and seeks to help you understand as you tell your story. It is the telling of the story that is more important than the words, a wise person told me. Donna very much wants to hear your story. I’m lucky and grateful to have found her.
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Thriveworks Counseling

Meeting with my counselor has been quite helpful to my understanding of a family member's mental health diagnosis. Her ability to clarify behaviors and share her knowledge has been epic, especially related to high-functioning autism, and to proposing different ways that I can work through challenges, all the while ensuring my own self-care.
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Thriveworks Counseling

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  • 1516 E Franklin St Suite 200
    Chapel Hill, NC 27517

  • Mon-Fri:7AM-9:30PM

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