The idea of couples therapy can be frightening to people, I am aware nothing is really going to change that potential dread before your first appointment, but I believe that knowing what to expect, can makes it a bit less intimidating.
I have been asked what one might expect from therapy many times, and while every therapist is different, I gathered here some information that I think can help better understand what the process is, and what to expect.
People wonder how a couple can tell if they would benefit from couples therapy. How can they recognize that their problems can no longer be dealt with at home, but rather need some professional help. There is no simple answer to that question, yet often one can get a sense that the relationship is reaching a point where situations only tend to escalate.
Perhaps you and your partner are arguing about the smallest things and these arguments quickly grow into out-of-proportion fights. Or your relationship feels weary, and if the two of you were not so busy leading separate lives, and have children you feel you would have nothing in common. Sometimes there is a big issue-such as money, sex, infidelity, in-laws or children—about which you cannot get your partner to understand your point of view.
The main purpose of couple’s therapy is to put you and your significant other in a room with a neutral mediator to help you make sense of what is going on. If you are having trouble communicating with each other, then the therapist is going to help guide you through the conversation.
Couple’s therapy is about communication, and if you are both willing to give it a chance it can be a fruitful experience. In the case of couple’s therapy, it is important to choose a therapist who will suit both of you. Make sure to talk over with me about what you are looking for in a therapist before we schedule our first session. It is common for one or both of you to be skeptical that the process will help or that I, as your therapist, will be one sided. Some people are concerned that it will take months of meetings.
I would like to assure you that my approach to couples as to individuals and families is entirely non-judgmental, constructive, and straightforward. I make every effort to understand the problem from both points of view.
As your therapist I am likely to start by asking "What brought you here?" It may seem like a simple question, but it is worth taking the time with your partner to prepare to answer it. In the first session I will also ask about your history and expect both of you to be open and honest. Depending on the situation, I may ask to see each of you individually at some point of the therapy process.
Dealing with uncomfertable issues is challenging. You must be patient and not to expect that the first few sessions with me will change things overnight. During the process issues you never thought about may come up, while feelings and emotions you were unaware of might surface.
We cannot predict what is going to happen at the end of couple’s therapy. I always hope that the couple can work through the issues and strengthen their relationship; yet at times couples might decide that the best course of action for them is to move on. Regardless, the idea of continuing to see a therapist is to reach a point where both partners have an understanding of the situation regardless of the end result.
Different therapists are going to approach your situation in different ways, you are not going to find a definitive guidebook for what you can expect from your couples' therapy, but I can assure you that as long as you are committed to the process you will gain from the experience.