A couples therapist helps people who have decided to live together indefinitely, although they may not be formally married. The fact that there is no legal contract between them can shift the emphasis in psychological issues. With legal restraints removed moral and personal issues take on a different hue. Conscience ends to supersede legal obligations.

There are medical associations with the word, 'therapy'. It is used in the context of treatments that are directed at the relief of physical and mental problems that afflict people. For example, massage and saunas are said to be therapeutic. For some people shopping seems to soothe troubled souls. When combined with 'couples' the word suggests the relief of problems that arise from relationships between two people.

A professional person tackling such problems needs training that develops tact, perspicacity and ethical discretion. Fundamental education in psychological theories should be followed by the ways in which such theoretical knowledge is applied in practice. As in other branches of the medical profession experience combined with theoretical knowledge is invaluable.

Issues that occur between individuals may take the form of violent outbursts or sullen disaffection that festers. The latter is probably worst. A cathartic outburst can relieve stress or precipitate a drastic solution. One way or the other symptoms of trouble that become manifest are best addressed sooner than later.

The ability to control minor irritations can have the downside that problems are not cleared away. Small mannerism and habits can annoy slightly in the early stages of a relationship and become more annoying the relationship continues. When one person becomes disaffected a small mannerism in a partner, perhaps as trivial as raising the eyebrows, can become an infuriating fetish that spawns hatred.

Chasms can open up in relationships that were once satisfying but have split apart. Individuals may go their own ways, unobtrusively at first. One may develop a successful career and another fail to find fulfillment in his work. They may grow apart and eventually find themselves on opposite sides of a wide divide. Efforts to contact each other mentally and physically may be difficult or even futile.

A couples therapist cannot succeed unless both of his subjects commit themselves to what can be a length process extending over many sessions. They must be prepared to listen, to admit to mistakes and be willing to change. Without these commitments from both parties the process is futile. With them two individuals may reach out to each other and find solace with the help of a couples therapist.

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Here is a good resource for more information of how a couples therapist can help.

Another great resource for everything you need to know about coping with infidelity.