The number of couples therapists has grown enormously in recent years: ‘Working with your relationship is less taboo’

210 percent. This is the increase in the number of couple therapists over the past 9 years, according to figures from the Chamber of Commerce. Therapists and experienced experts believe that this is because couples therapy is less and less taboo.

There used to be a taboo about working on your relationship, but that seems to be a thing of the past. And couple therapists respond to this: In recent years, more and more have joined.

become more normal

Relationship therapist Mirjam Beekman from Naarden sees ‘incredible growth’ in her environment. “During corona, I lived abroad for 2 years. I came back, and then there were thirty relationship therapists in Het Gooi. You can see that there is a big market for it. It used to be smaller,” she says.

“I think the taboo is gone. The search for psychological help in general, or for example a coach, has become much more normal. And you can also see that in couples therapy now.”

Difference between young and old

It is primarily the younger couples that this change is visible to therapist Maan Ballemans. She more often feels the discomfort of the somewhat older couples. “Partly because of their upbringing, the idea prevails among them: ‘we have to solve it ourselves’. If it doesn’t work, it can give a feeling of failure and shame, so that help is asked for later or too late.”

Young people think differently about that, notes Ballemans. “I have this idea that asking for help is just less taboo for this generation. Like wanting to get it right.”

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Many more relationship therapists

In 2013, 1,209 relationship, family and system therapists were registered with the Chamber of Commerce. Now, in 2022, the counter stands at 3,762 registered therapists. That is a growth of 211% in 9 years.

Doubt at first

Joshua (30) and Naomi (26) are such a young couple. Following guidance from their own psychologists, they decided to go to couples therapy to work on their relationship.

They were skeptical at first. Naomi: “When they said do you want couples therapy? I was really like, oh shit. People only say that when they’re going through a divorce. I was like, are we at that stage yet? But I was happy to find out that it’s not at all. the first thing that happens when you go to couples therapy.”

‘They are there to argue’

“If you look at the image that the media, especially films and series, paint of couples therapy, you see that it is used as a kind of dramatic element. They are there to argue and everything goes wrong. But that is completely wrong .not the case,” says Joshua.

The therapy was a relaxing experience for the couple. “In our experience, the therapist was a very nice older lady with whom we could have a cup of tea and have a pleasant conversation,” says Naomi. “After which we came home and thought: God, she has said very precise things.”

Source: Naomi van den Hooff

Naomi and Joshua

Strengthen the relationship

From the start, they were open about going to couples therapy. “I’ve shared it with everyone on social media,” says Naomi. “Some responded very positively, but others also said, ‘Huh, couples therapy? But you’re doing well, aren’t you?'”

For Joshua and Naomi, the therapy was primarily a way to strengthen their relationship, not “save it,” Naomi explains. “I hear that a lot in my surroundings. I think you should go to couples therapy when there is no serious fight yet.” Joshua: “Our ways of communicating were different, so we didn’t understand each other very well. Naomi has autism and I have a brain that moves quite quickly, which is not bad at all. Through therapy, our relationship has become so much stronger and we now know how to communicate with each other.”

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Preventative look

Strengthening your relationship instead of saving it, that’s exactly what relationship coach Veronne van der Meijs and her sister and remedial educator Fleur are responding to with their newly founded Bureau Lovers. Their motto: keep working on your relationship even when things are going well. There is always room for development and it is a gift to yourselves and each other. Take a preventive look: How do we keep it together?

Their workshops, especially aimed at young couples with children, are fully booked. “We started in January and we have now helped about fifty parents,” says Veronne.

Bigger taboo than divorce

“Young parents go through a vulnerable phase in relation to their relationship, and so all help is more than welcome. Because when you work on your relationship, you don’t learn it anywhere.” And that annoys Veronne. “Love doesn’t work like we see in Hollywood movies.”

That the taboo has been completely removed from couples therapy is not yet the case, says Veronne. “There’s always a group of people who see working on your relationship as a bigger taboo than getting divorced. So there’s definitely still work to be done.”

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Example

For Naomi and Joshua, it is a reason to share their good experiences with couples therapy. By telling their story, they hope to help other couples as well. Naomi: “I tell everyone we’ve been in couple’s therapy. Also to encourage people not to be afraid to ask for help when something small happens in the relationship.”

Joshua: “You come out stronger together in the end. It should be normal to go to therapy because you learn to understand each other and how to talk to each other. That’s the most important thing. When people go into it through us, it seems is really nice. We want to be an example for others.”

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