Helpful Couples Counseling Trust Exercises

Medically reviewed by Bobbi Jo Stoner, LPC
Updated June 6, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Couples therapy can benefit relationships in various ways, and engaging in couples counseling trust activities during the therapy sessions can help romantic partners strengthen their communication skills, deepen their emotional connection, and work through issues in a constructive and positive manner. Most relationship therapists utilize various trust exercises and therapy techniques to help partners strengthen their relationships, and these often include trust-building techniques like “Coming Clean” and dialectical behavior therapy.

Want to strengthen your relationship?

Taking the appropriate steps to learn trust activities may help improve and maintain relationships by showing you how to:

  • Get to know your partner better
  • Practice healthy communication
  • Remember why you chose your partner
  • Learn to engage in a more positive way
  • Separate your preconceived notions from the reality of who your partner is
  • Get to the root of problems
  • Rebuild trust

Does couples therapy work?

You may wonder if relationship therapy is worth trying or if these exercises really work in building trust. In fact, the benefits are scientifically proven.
One study found the success rate of couples therapy to be around 70%. 

Types of trust exercises

Several types of trust activities can focus on specific elements within your relationship. Trust-building practices can be used together in one therapy program to tailor your treatment to your relationship’s unique situation. 

Trust activities usually target two key areas associated with the larger idea of trust: forgiveness and promises. In relationships, trust is often tested in some way, which can contribute to relationship stress. Whether a promise wasn’t kept or secrets were discovered, broken trust may affect each partner in a romantic relationship differently.

When it comes to trust issues in relationships, there is often an emotional wall built between the two partners. Trust-building activities typically work to break down the walls built between the partners that even genuine apologies can’t overcome. They can help each partner identify issues with their behavior and work toward either gaining or giving acceptance and following through on commitments and promises in the future.

Trust in relationships can also be affected by one or both partners’ previous relationship history with others. It can be common for a partner to bring insecurities and suspicions that originate in previous relationships into a new relationship. 

Here are two therapy activities that can help the partners break the influence of old relationships and build a stronger foundation of trust:

Coming clean - A commonly used and powerful activity that can be used for building trust is the “coming clean” activity. In this trust building activity, each partner may be encouraged to show complete honesty and humility as they talk through their issues, mistakes, and grievances. This can help each partner understand the other more deeply and emphasize communicating effectively, which can help romantic partners work through major conflicts.

Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) - Though most commonly used to treat conditions like borderline personality disorder, DBT can help partners build trust by establishing a focus on emotional acceptance and control. 

Communication and trust exercises for emotional intimacy

Communication can be vital to the growth of any healthy and trusting relationship. Trust-building exercises that focus on emotional intimacy can help partners open up to one another and express their feelings. Common communication practices can include:

  • Active listening and engaging with “I feel” statements - Active listening is a technique that may encourage the couple to listen and empathize with each other in a productive manner. It may involve truly seeing other people's emotions and a deeper connection. A partner can ensure their significant other feels heard by maintaining eye contact and summarizing their key points after they’re done speaking. 
  • Gratitude lists - Gratitude lists can strengthen the bond between partners and teach each partner how to express what they appreciate and need from each other. They can also aid in incorporating positive affirmations and expression of valued attributes within each partner, ensuring that both partners feel important, valuable, and loved. This is often crucial to have healthy and trusting relationships.

When should we try these exercises?

In the end, there is no right or wrong when it comes to deciding when to attempt to build trust through couples counseling. Participate in trust-building exercises when you’re ready—or when you still have doubts. The process may convince you. Whenever you decide to go, try to think of it as the beginning of a better relationship, a stronger and more trustworthy union, and a healthier you.

How trust exercises can help your relationship

Relationship counseling can have a significantly positive impact on your relationship in several different ways.

Get to know each other better

As many people who have been married a long time can testify, you can be with a person for many decades and still learn new things about them. The more you spend time learning, the better equipped you may be to become a more loving and trusting partner.

Engage in a more positive way

Exercises like gratitude lists can put you into a better frame of mind to improve your relationship. They can give you opportunities to see the good in your partner and your life together. Instead of blaming each other, you might look for solutions that both of you like. You may see the good in one another more clearly than ever before. This can fuel your motivation to rebuild your partnership into a healthy dynamic.

Learn to trust again

Trust may be the hardest thing to regain once it’s lost, but it’s one of the cornerstones of a healthy relationship. You may wish to believe your partner will do what’s in your best interests, but experience may have shown you that this isn’t always true. These trust exercises can provide you a chance to interact in the here and now and foster emotional intimacy.

Online therapy for relationship support

Relationships can be important to maintain, but they can also be challenging at times. If you and your partner feel your relationship may be struggling, then it may be important to consider relationship counseling.

If you’re looking for a convenient counseling option, online counseling could be a fit for you. Although counseling may take you out of your comfort zone, online therapy can make it easy for you and your partner to meet with a counselor without having to travel to an office, allowing you to meet in your own home at a set time that’s convenient for you. 

It can be important to note that online counseling has been clinically proven to be as effective as in-person counseling for many situations, including couples counseling. Research shows that participants in online therapy were just as likely to see long-term results as those who attended in-person sessions, resulting in healthier relationships with themselves and their partners. 


Many counselors use different trust building exercises for partners to reconnect. These trust exercises may:

  • Help you separate preconceived notions of your partner from reality
  • Assist you in getting to know your partner on a deeper level
  • Contribute to healthy communication
  • Aid you in remembering why you chose to be with your partner
  • Promote engaging with your partner in a more positive way
  • Get to the root of any challenges
  • Rebuild trust

If you and your partner are going through tough times, online counselors may be a valuable tool to help you develop a healthy, successful relationship and, if you have children, an improved family bond.

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