Posted on: July 8, 2020 | Julie Rael, LCSW, CCO Valley Behavioral Health People tend to think about couples counseling as a last-ditch effort to save a marriage, rather than a healthy premarital activity. Couples counseling before marriage is like offering a life raft before a couple enters the sea. The alternative is to wait for a couple to begin drowning and then toss them a floatation device at the last minute. Prevention is key, and it can mean the difference between a well-adjusted healthy couple or a couple who is unprepared and blindsided by the challenges of marriage. The benefits of couples counseling before marriage far outweigh the risks. Get Premarital Counseling Today Why Couples Counseling Before Marriage Helps There are a multitude of reasons for why couples counseling before marriage works. Most of the reasons counseling is so important for couples prior to marriage is the opportunity to learn more about one another, build communication and problem-solving skills and identify any expectations that may be unspoken. Couples counseling before marriage also offers the benefit of an outside perspective on your relationship. When couples are able to openly share their thoughts and feelings in a safe, confidential environment, the counselor can share observations about the relationship and offer insight into areas that may need exploration. Seemingly small issues that a couple may try to overlook during the early stages of a relationship are likely to become larger problems as the relationship progresses. When couples participate in marriage counseling before marriage, it can help uncover these issues so that resolutions can be found before they turn into major problems that may cause distancing. In a country where 787,251 divorces took place in 2017, it is wise for couples to fully examine their relationships prior to tying the knot. Unfortunately, couples counseling has a stigma associated with it that prevents many people from participating. The truth is couples who invest time, effort and energy into their relationship through the use of counseling demonstrate a level of commitment that is likely to pay off for years to come. When couples dare to examine their relationship and talk about their challenges and strengths, it brings them closer and can head-off potential challenges in the future. Couples who fear premarital counseling may have underlying doubts that they are unwilling to examine, and this may be a red flag for future issues. Some couples may fear that a counselor will take sides, but this fear should be allayed as therapists are trained to sit with clients objectively and assist couples in building greater understanding rather than casting blame. It is important to remember that counseling is a safe, confidential setting that can help couples build connection and greater understanding of one another’s needs. What Can You Do? If you are in a committed relationship and you’re thinking about marriage, consider counseling prior to the big day. You may be surprised at how beneficial counseling before marriage can be. The professional therapists at Highland Springs Clinic are prepared to help you embrace the positive aspects of your relationship while working on the areas that may need assistance. Highland Springs therapists and counselors are well versed in evidence-based treatment modalities and have years of experience helping couples reach their greatest potential. Couples counselors at Highland Springs are skilled at assisting couples in exploring the areas of the relationship that need work, while maintaining professional skills and boundaries. Ethical, caring and professional treatment is at the forefront of Highland Springs’ mission, and people who seek treatment at the facility are treated with respect and compassion. Marriage is a big step and couples owe it to themselves to honor that commitment with the attention and intention it deserves. Let Highland Springs Clinic help you build a marriage that will last with skills that will improve your relationship for years to come. Contact Us Today Julie Rael, LCSW, CCO Valley Behavioral HealthMs. Rael earned her Bachelor’s degree in psychology and her Master’s degree in social work with a substance use treatment certificate at the University of Utah. She began working at Valley in 2005 and is a licensed clinical social worker. Prior to obtaining her Master’s degree, she worked as a case manager in a homeless shelter connecting individuals to occupational and housing resources and as a social service worker teaching vocational and psycho-educational skills to youth, refugees, and adults with mental health and substance use difficulties. Ms. Rael enjoyed seeing the participants gain more skills and the confidence to move on to employment and further education. After completing her Master’s degree, she worked as a therapist providing individual and group psychotherapy with individuals with substance use and mental health difficulties. After obtaining her LCSW license, she transitioned to a team lead position that provided intense community treatment and outreach services for individuals needing more than traditional outpatient services. Ms. Rael went on to manage and further develop programing for two behavioral health clinics with multidisciplinary treatment teams. She has worked as Field Instructor training and supervising MSW interns for the University of Utah’s Social Work department for the past six years. Ms. Rael was promoted to a Director of Adult Mental Health services in 2017, and then began providing oversight of Valley’s Forensics clinic in 2018. She has also served as a board member and volunteer for a local non-profit that provides individuals the training and support needed to obtain meaningful employment after incarceration and recovery from substance use difficulties. Ms. Rael believes that evidenced-based treatments, collaboration with health care providers, and connecting individuals to recovery support programs are essential factors in obtaining effective treatment outcomes. She is passionate about working alongside individuals to discover their unique strengths, grow and continue to progress in becoming their personal best. In the role of Chief Clinical Officer, Ms. Rael will be working collaboratively with clinical and medical leadership to improve clinical processes, program development and identify those interventions which will best predict clinical success for each of the conditions that we treat. She will be a coach to all Adult and Children’s Clinical Directors and will serve on the Valley Academy team to ensure all Valley Staff feel properly trained and well prepared to bring Valley Behavioral Health’s systems of care to the forefront of our industry.