Beginner’s Guide to Couples Counseling
Couples counseling is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on helping couples-both married and unmarried- to work through challenges, strengthen their relationships, and develop healthier ways of communicating and work through relationship stress.
When to Go to Couples Therapy
There isn’t a right or wrong time to start couples counseling. Couples counseling can be a great resource for couples in many different circumstances. From helping couples navigate through a specific event, conflict in the relationship, to strengthen certain aspects like communication, a counselor can help provide support and encouragement throughout the process.
Ideally, couples should start counseling before a crisis or talks of a breakup occur. This helps strengthen the relationship for when rough patches happen. However, coming into counseling no matter what is happening in your relationship is always better than not seeking help. The point is that you and your partner are making the conscious decision to work together and strengthen your relationship regardless of where you currently are in your relationship.
How to Find a Couples Counselor
Finding a couples counselor can be a bit more challenging than finding an individual counselor. It’s important to find a counselor that works for both you and your partner. Talking to your partner about what both of you want out of therapy, what you hope to gain, and how you want therapy to go is the first important step to finding a therapist that is a good fit for both of you.
It’s also important to keep an open mind when starting couples counseling. While you might have a vision in your mind as to what you want therapy to look like, you never really know what will click until you are in your first session together.
How to Prepare for your first session
Being open and talking about starting couples counseling with your partner is a great first step in preparing for your first session. Sitting with your partner in front of a new therapist can cause some feelings of anxiety and nervousness to arise. Know that these feelings are normal and don’t put too much pressure on you or your partner if there is some hesitancy during the initial session. Sometimes it takes time to get comfortable with the therapeutic process.
It’s also a good idea to clear your schedule for the first appointment. While it isn’t always possible, heading off to work directly after the first session isn’t recommended. Instead, try to schedule an appointment on a day off or later in the evening so you can have time to emotionally process, rest, and recharge after your session.
What to Do if One Partner isn’t As Committed to Counseling as the Other
It can be a difficult situation to navigate if one partner isn’t as sold on the idea of couple counseling as the other partner is. While it may be tempting to try and persuade your partner, it’s important to have an open and honest conversation about what your partner is feeling.
There can be many reasons as to why a partner doesn’t want to go to couples therapy. For instance, if your partner feels like they are being forced into therapy, it’s unlikely that they will gain much from the experience. Because of this, it is important to make your partner feel heard and understood.
That being said, if your partner is against therapy, it’s recommended to hold off on booking your first appointment and focus on discussing why you want to go to therapy. Sometimes, the fear of going to therapy, especially if it is their first time, can cause a knee jerk ‘no’ response from your partner. Communicating how important it is for you can help give them a different perspective and more information for them to consider.
What Results Should You Expect?
There is no definite answer to how successful couples therapy can be for a specific couple. Because there are so many factors associated with each couple, guaranteeing success is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to do.
While some evidence indicates that couples counseling does have long-term benefits for the couple, it ultimately boils down to the commitment and work that each individual within the couple puts into their relationship.
That being said, couples counseling can give you and your partner the tools necessary to build a strong foundation with healthy communication techniques that can lead to a long, stable, and fulfilling relationship.
If you’re interested in couples or marriage counseling, call Progressive Psychological Healthcare at 847-979-0268 for more information.