May 7, 2024

What is the best type of marriage counseling?

Two stick figures sticked together by band-aids



  • ​​Traditional Marriage Counseling
  • Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)
  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Gottman Method Couples Therapy
  • Integrative Approaches
  • Online Marriage Counseling
  • Choosing the Best Type of Marriage Counseling
Married couple in therapy

Marriage counseling is an important tool to help couples couple navigate the challenges off married life while strengthening their relationship so they can have a happy and satisfying marriage. There are several types of marriage counseling and it can be confusing to know which one to choose and which type of marriage counseling is best. In this article, we’ll go over the pros and cons of the most common types of marriage counseling so you can choose the best type of marriage counseling for you. 

​Traditional Marriage Counseling

Traditional marriage counseling typically involves working with someone who is a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) who can help you communicate openly with each other while working on finding solutions to concerns bringing you to counseling. Many types of traditional marriage counseling involve promoting effective communication, healthy boundaries in the relationship and with others, and working through underlying relationship dynamics that may have even been passed down through generational family patterns. While traditional marriage counseling has many benefits, it doesn’t have as much research to support it as the more modern day couples counseling styles. 

Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) 

Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) focuses on helping couples work through difficult emotions that get triggered in relationship. The underlying theory is based on attachment, which prioritized helping couples build a sense of emotional security in their relationship. By sharing emotions which each other, people are able to let go of feelings of insecurity as they build up more confidence in their importance to each other. Communication skills are developed as couples work to understand and express their feelings effectively. EFT actually has the most research to support it and have a 91% improvement rate in clinical trials. (Learn more about the effectiveness of EFT.)

Couple reconciling at marriage therapy

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) as first an individual type of therapy tat began to be used with couples as well. The idea behind CBT is that people have negative thinking patterns in relationships which then impacts how they behave. The goal in this type of therapy is to change the way you are both thinking about the relationship and to also develop better behaviors which as coping skills or communication skills. If you just want some quick relationship tips and feel confident in your ability to implement new skills together, then CBT is a great option.

Gottman Method Couples Therapy

The Gottman Method Couples Therapy is rooted in extensive research–but not about it’s effectiveness. The Gottman’s put couples in a lab and studied the differences between “master couples” and couples headed for divorce. They created a type of therapy based on trying to help couples do the same things that the “master couples” did in their studies. The focus of this type of therapy is on building friendship, managing conflicts, and  developing skills to such as effective communication, empathy, and conflict resolution. It has many similarities as CBT couples therapy.

Integrative Approaches

People who have an integrative approach to marriage counseling often combine  different therapeutic techniques when it seems like it will benefit the couple. Integrative marriage counselors believe that no single method everyone and so they use multiple approaches as needed. While integrative counseling can be more flexible and customizable, it can also mean that that the therapist knows a little bit of everything but ma not be specialized enough to address your specific concern.

Online Marriage Counseling

With the use technology, and especially how frequently tele-therapy was used during the COVID pandemic, online marriage counseling has become increasingly popular. Online platforms offer convenience, flexibility, and the ability to connect with therapists from anywhere in the world. Online counseling can be an especially great option for couples with busy schedules or who live in more rural locations. Most off the approaches to couples counseling can be modified to fit an online counseling context.

Couples Therapy

Choosing the Best Type of Marriage Counseling

I will be transparent and state that my personal view is that Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy is the best type of marriage counseling. I am biased because I am an EFT couples therapist, and because it has the strongest research to support it.At the same time, you have to take into consideration several factors for determining what is the best type of marriage counseling for YOU. You will want to think about the preferences you and our partner both have, as well as the specific concerns you are wanting assistance with. It is important to also consider the training and experience of the therapist, and even if you like them or not! Across all types of therapy, it is important that you feel like it is a good fit to work with your therapist. Setting up initial consultation with the marriage counselor to determine if it will be a good fit can help you decide what type of marriage counseling may be best for you.

Marriage counseling can help improve our relationship, whether you choose traditional counseling, EFT, CBT, the Gottman Method, an integrative approach, or online counseling, the most important part is that you are investing in your relationship!

Looking for a Marriage Counseling?

Elizabeth Polinsky Counseling provides online Marriage Counseling, as well as weekend-long Marriage Intensives, throughout the states of Virginia, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Nevada. Click the button below to schedule a complimentary consult. ​

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    About Author

    Elizabeth Polinsky is a Certified Emotionally Focused Couple Therapist (EFT) providing EFT marriage counseling in the states of Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Nevada. She also provides EFT training and supervision to therapists looking to become certified in EFT Couple Therapy. As a military spouse, she has a special passion for working with military and veteran couples, and is also the host of The Communicate & Connect Podcast for Military Relationships.


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