How to Know When Its Time for Couples Counseling in Abusive Relationships

Deciding when to engage in relationship counseling after experiencing emotional or narcissistic abuse can be a challenging and complex decision. If you’ve been in an abusive relationship, you are likely exhausted from trying to make things work and have probably invested significant time and effort into improving the relationship. It’s understandable to be cautious about re-entering the prospect of couples counseling.

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Here are some key indicators that can help you determine when it might be time to consider this step.

1. He Can Hold Space

One crucial sign that your partner might be ready for relationship counseling is his ability to hold space. Holding space means that he can listen to your concerns without becoming defensive or trying to turn the conversation back to his issues. He needs to sit with your point of view, acknowledge your feelings, and refrain from reacting negatively. This ability is critical because it shows that he is willing to understand your experiences and validate your emotions, which is fundamental for effective counseling and healing.

2. He Takes Ownership

Taking ownership is another significant indicator of change. If your partner is beginning to take responsibility for his actions and admits his wrongdoing, it shows a level of self-awareness and accountability. This means he acknowledges the harm his behavior has caused and feels genuine remorse. Taking ownership also involves him expressing a desire to make amends and actively working on correcting his behavior. Without this step, any attempt at couples counseling might be futile as there would be no real foundation for change.

3. He Embraces the Change Process

Finally, a willingness to embrace the change process is essential. This means your partner has already participated in individual counseling or group therapy and is committed to continuing this work. It’s important that he has not only started these processes but is also showing a genuine commitment to ongoing personal growth. Embracing change means he recognizes the need for improvement and is actively engaging in the steps required to achieve it.

Reviewing and Reevaluating

It’s crucial to understand that these signs may not develop overnight. You will need to continually review and reevaluate your partner’s progress. Just because he shows some change initially does not mean the work is done. Ongoing commitment and consistency are key.

Your Readiness and Safety

In addition to assessing your partner’s readiness, consider your own emotional state and safety. Relationship counseling should not be pursued if you feel unsafe or if your partner’s abusive behaviors are still ongoing. Your well-being is paramount, and counseling should only be considered when there is a clear indication of change and a safe environment to do so.


Knowing when it’s time for couples counseling in abusive relationships involves looking for specific signs of change: the ability to hold space, taking ownership of actions, and embracing the change process. While these indicators can guide your decision, it’s essential to prioritize your safety and emotional readiness. Engaging in relationship counseling can be a positive step forward, but only when both partners are genuinely committed to the process.


Reviewing and Reevaluating

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