Couples counseling is integral for a lot of couples, but especially for celebrities. The everyday pressures normal couples face, like kids, communication issues, jealousy, and scheduling, are amplified by a lot more time apart, keeping up appearances, and the high probability that one or more parties involved has to kiss a hot co-star every once in a while. As a result, it’s not surprising that these couples all sought therapy to work out their problems . . . even though the degrees of success vary widely from pairing to pairing.
Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell
Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell opened up to Good Housekeeping about going to therapy together for a pretty simple reason: “You do better in the gym with a trainer; you don’t figure out how to cook without reading a recipe,” Bell said. “Therapy is not something to be embarrassed about.”
“There were hurdles, things she didn’t trust about me, things I didn’t trust about her,” Shepard said. “I just kept going back to ‘This person has the thing I want, and I have to figure out how we can exist peacefully.’ So we started [seeing a therapist together] right away.”
Shepard added, “I noticed an actor and her husband on [a recent cover of a celebrity tabloid] that said ‘In Couples’ Therapy!’ The clear message is, ‘Oh, their marriage is ending.’ There’s such a negative connotation. In my previous relationship, we went to couples therapy at the end, and that’s often too late. You can’t go after nine years and start figuring out what patterns you’re in.”
Kourtney Kardashian and Scott Disick
Kourtney Kardashian and Scott Disick’s rollercoaster relationship survived with the help of couples therapy. Kardashian told Oprah’s Next Chapter in 2012, “I’m not saying that we’re perfect. We go to therapy, which helps us a lot. I think we’re always working to better ourselves, which I think a lot of people can do … I could go [into the therapy session] despising him, but by the time I leave — even if he’s not in there — I feel like I understand him so much more.”
Tarek and Christina El Moussa
Flip Or Flop hosts Tarek and Christina El Moussa separated in May 2016 after a blowout fight in which police were called and seized guns from the couple’s home after speculation that Tarek was suicidal (and that contractor Gary Anderson called police from Christina’s bedroom). The pair admitted that they tried to work it out afterward, but the relationship couldn’t recover, even with the help of couples counseling, and Tarek filed for divorce in January 2017.
“As time went on, we got distant from each other. There’s a lot going on in our lives,” Tarek told told Today. “We tried the counseling and it just really wasn’t working.” He expounded to expounded to Us Weekly, “We didn’t stay together that night [of the fight]. We went to counseling to see what we could do to work things out. Ultimately, it was best to separate. Over the summer, I moved out. We thought it was best to have space. We didn’t want the kids to see us upset.”
Pink and Carey Hart
Pink and Carey Hart separated in 2008 and even filed for divorce — but thanks to marriage counseling and couples therapy, they never signed the papers and are now happily married with two adorable kids. The singer explained to Redbook that since going to therapy, “We fight nicer. There is no yelling in front of [daughter] Willow, ever. We can argue, just no yelling. We are couples-therapy people. We do it for maintenance, not problems.”
The couple even shared their most important lessons learned in couples therapy. The first is that marriage is a 100 percent commitment. “You can’t have one foot in and one foot out,” Pink explained. “You have to dive in and be willing to be executed at the stake for the love you want.”
Pink also says that fighting can be a good thing if it’s part of achieving a goal. “I think it’s really bad when a couple retreats to their sides of the dinner table and have nothing to say to each other,” she said. “So there have been times where I’m like, ‘As long as I can get Carey to bite, even if he’s angry, [it means he] still cares.’ When you become silent and give up, you’re doomed. We did that [in 2008]. We became silent, and we broke up … I knew how to walk away when I met Carey. I knew how to tell him to f**k off. But I didn’t know how to sit at a table and actually work through something. Now we’re really good at that.”
Patrick and Jillian Dempsey
Patrick Dempsey and wife Jillian almost divorced, but admitted to seeking couples therapy to work through their problems. In 2007, Dempsey told Life magazine (via People), “Being a father makes you look at yourself. You look at your marriage and go ‘How do I improve this? How do I keep growing and create a stable environment for my children?’ We go in [to couples therapy] for checkups and go ‘Hey, here’s what we need to work on.’ We’ve had a very good relationship from the beginning, but you run into things you have to work through.”
Jillian filed for divorce in January 2015, but by January 2016 called off the split — with the help of a lot more counseling. Dempsey told People, “Our marriage was not something I was prepared to let go of. I didn’t feel like we had done all the work. And we both wanted to do that work. That’s where it started … “Jill and I decided it was time to work on our issues and improve. We wanted to be role models for our kids like, ‘Okay, if you have differences, you can work them out.”
He added, “We decided it was time to get in [to therapy] and work on our individual issues and our issues as a couple … I [learned] to prioritize. Our union has to be the priority. I wasn’t prepared to give up on her and she wasn’t either. We both wanted to fight for it … You’ve got to keep at it. You’ve got to communicate, and stay open and not get lazy. And not give up.”
Fergie and Josh Duhamel
Fergie told Allure that she and hubby Josh Duhamel go to therapy both solo and together. “[Duhamel] is not afraid,” Fergie said. “He doesn’t feel like he’s not man enough.”
That was where the couple developed their two-week rule: Neither is allowed to be on set or tour solo for more than two weeks, and after son Axl was born, they adapted their schedules even more. “We’ve already talked about how we’re going to have to trade off,” she said. “He’s going to have to come on tour with Axl for a while, and then there’ll be a break. He’ll take a job; I’ll be on set with [Axl]. You know?”
Kristin Cavallari and Jay Cutler
Former Laguna Beach star Kristin Cavallari is open about how therapy was crucial to the survival of her marriage to former Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler. “We don’t have a perfect relationship. You know, we work on it. We’re in therapy,” she told Sirius XM’s Wake Up With Taylor in March 2016.
“One hundred percent, I think it saved our relationship. It’s the best. And I think it’s so good for each person individually as well. I realized why I react certain ways to certain things, and you learn great tools for communication, which is the most important thing I think. And so, yeah, I 100 percent credit our therapist.”
Ryan Phillippe and Reese Witherspoon
Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe divorced in 2006 after seven years of marriage and Phillippe’s alleged affair with Abbie Cornish, his co-star on Stop-Loss. He told the New York Daily News before the breakup that they weren’t ashamed of their time in couple’s therapy before the split.
“The biggest mistake is not doing that,” Phillippe said, “ignoring it and have the marriage fall apart because of laziness.” Witherspoon previously voiced the same sentiments in a 2002 Access Hollywood interview (via Today), saying, “I don’t think there should be a social stigma attached to having therapy. It’s self improvement.”
How to make couples therapy work for you
Since so many celebrity couples have gone to counseling without success, it seems like it may not even be worth trying. If you want an outcome like Bell and Shepard, however, there is certainly hope in getting counseling together, Psychologist Jennifer Kunst explained to Psychology Today.
Dr. Kunst points out that a lot of the success or failure rates of couples therapy have several variables: who your therapist is, whether their methods are compatible with you and your partner, and how long you waited to go to counseling. Dr. Kunst explains, “Couples therapy is often at a great disadvantage because the couple has waited too long to get help. By the time they get help, their heels are stubbornly dug in; too much damage has been done. Also, couples therapy is often at a great disadvantage because each member of the couple overtly or covertly is there in order to get help for the other one. Therapy can’t be of much help unless the each person is willing to work on him or herself.”
Dr. Kunst recommends three key factors in couple’s therapy, aside from getting an early start before problems fester for too long: Coming in with a genuine love for one’s partner and a desire to better contribute to the relationship, to examine one’s self and be dedicated to making changes in one’s self and not to their partner, and to be “dedicated to working constructively in each session.”