Business Therapy: Co-Owners Seek Help When They Can’t Agree

Partners can rub each other the wrong way, or argue over their plans for the future. If they can't resolve their differences on their own, some go to a psychotherapist or coach -- including some company owners who need the business equivalent of marital counseling.

"When people are spending eight-plus hours a day together, probably 10, 12 or more, issues are naturally going to arise," says Jonathan Alpert, a psychotherapist and executive coach in New York.

Many companies hire consultants to help executives learn how to manage employees or streamline procedures. Relationship counseling for businesses is different -- it's about owners learning how to communicate and work together, and understanding the issues getting in their way.

Some business owners consult Alpert when they're in crisis, saying. "We're just not getting along," or "Our business is suffering and we don't know why." Others, Alpert says, sound more like romantic couples: "I feel like my voice isn't being heard. I'm not respected. I don't trust him anymore."

"It's almost as if they were in an unhappy marriage," concurs executive coach Roy Cohen.

Alpert says he's seen an increase in the past few years in the number of business partners who've sought his help. But there's no clear answer on how many overall go for counseling. Many people freely talk about being in therapy or marriage counseling, but are much less likely to reveal they've been in business relationship counseling, Cohen says.

"For some it feels like an indulgence and for some people view it as a sign of weakness," says Cohen, who's based in New York. But, he says, counseling was essential for the business partners who have consulted him.

A look at how relationship counseling has worked out for some owners:

Nipping Problems in the Bud

Jessica Bridge and Dan Cypress began seeing a psychotherapist six years ago, wanting to...

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