What if My Partner Doesn’t Want to Go to Counseling?

Romantic relationships can feel endlessly complicated at times. Sometimes, it can feel like a third party perspective would be very helpful to untangle issues and move forward. A common resource is couples counseling, which is intended to increase understanding between you and your partner. However, it's not uncommon for one partner to be resistant to counseling. If you’re the one pushing for couples therapy, a reluctant or refusing partner can feel like a nail in the coffin. In this blog post, we will explore how to approach this delicate situation and provide guidance for individuals whose partners are resistant to the idea of couples therapy.

Find out why

When your partner is reluctant to attend counseling, it's crucial to empathize with their perspective. Approach them calmly and ask them why they don’t want to go. Some common reasons for resistance include: 

By understanding your partner’s concerns, you can address them more effectively. Do not downplay or belittle their feelings; try to work through them together and give them what they need to feel comfortable with couples therapy.

Highlight the benefits of counseling

Your partner may feel like couples therapy is a punishment. Emphasize the positive outcomes that couples counseling can bring. Improved communication, deeper emotional connection, and effective conflict resolution are just a few of the potential benefits. Express excitement for reaching a deeper level of connection and intimacy. Share success stories or research findings that demonstrate the positive impact of counseling on relationships. If you think that your partner is viewing it as a punishment for their behavior or as a means to “fix” them, make sure they know that you want to attend couples therapy so that you can be a better partner too.

Choose the right time and place

Selecting an appropriate time and setting to discuss beginning couples counseling is crucial. Avoid bringing up the topic during heated arguments or tense moments. Screaming “this is why we need to be in couples therapy!” during an argument is sure to make it feel like a punishment! Instead, find a calm and private moment where both of you can engage in an open conversation.

Propose a trial session

To ease your partner into the idea of couples counseling, suggest a trial session. This approach allows them to experience the process firsthand without committing to ongoing therapy. A single session may provide them with a better understanding of how counseling can benefit your relationship.

If nothing works

If, after all of the above, your partner is still adamant that they do not want to attend couples therapy, don’t feel like you have to call it quits just yet (unless you want to).

There are some alternatives to therapy that you can try:

The main thing to remember is this: as long as you are both committed to trying something and putting time and effort into the relationship together, it doesn’t have to be over - even if you don’t go to couples therapy.

Taking care of yourself

You can respect your partner’s decision to forgo couples counseling and continue to focus on your well-being. There is nothing stopping you from going to individual therapy to help you process your feelings and gain clarity about your own needs and desires. By attending therapy on your own, you can learn new communication and coping strategies that may contribute to improving the relationship. And if you and/or your partner do decide that the relationship is over at some point in the future, having an established therapist will help you navigate the transition.

Individual and couples therapy in CA & NV

Navigating a partner's resistance to counseling can be challenging, but with patience, understanding, and open communication, progress is possible. Individual growth is just as valuable as couples therapy, and seeking help when needed is a sign of strength. Regardless of the outcome, prioritize your mental and emotional well-being, as this lays the foundation for a healthier and more fulfilling relationship.

If you are located in California or Nevada and are in need of individual or couples therapy, Medens Health has a diverse team of caring professionals who can see you virtually or in-person. Reach out to us by phone or text at (833) 624-5400, send us a message using our online contact form, or to register as a new client get started here.


The information provided in this blog is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Reliance on any information provided in this blog is solely at your own risk. Always seek the advice of your physician or a qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding your medical or mental health. If you don’t currently have a therapist, we can connect you with one who is qualified to give you safe, professional, and ethical advice regarding your mental health.

If you or someone you are responsible for is experiencing a medical emergency, is considering harming themselves or others, or is otherwise in imminent danger, you should call 9-1-1 and/or take them to the nearest emergency room.