Making the decision to pursue counseling can be nerve-racking, intimidating, and difficult. Add a tense relationship to the mix, and it can make it that much more challenging. You are not alone! Read below to learn more about couples counseling and what to expect.
What is couples counseling?
Couples counseling is therapy for romantic relationships. It can help bring insight and perspective to the relationship by identifying the unhealthy patterns and cycles that are hurting the couple and decreasing connection. Couples counseling aims to increase conflict resolution by teaching healthy communication skills and balancing each individual’s needs within the relationship.
What can you expect in couples counseling?
The first few sessions focus on learning about the couple’s story and relationship progression, as well as individual history and background. The counselor will also inquire about what conflict looks like in the relationship, potentially asking the couple to demonstrate how conversations occur at home. This helps identify the unhealthy patterns in the relationship and guide the focus of sessions and exercises moving forward. Throughout the counseling process, the clinician will help increase understanding, connection, and honesty among partners.
The counselor will set guidelines and boundaries for interactions within the counseling room to ensure respect, equality, and non-harmful communication. Couples counseling should be a safe haven for the relationship and for each partner to feel comfortable, heard, and respected.
What makes couples counseling successful?
The main ingredients for a successful counseling experience are motivation, timing, and fit. Couples who are committed to the counseling process and motivated to create change within the relationship are much more likely to see the results they’d like than couples who have already called it quits or are looking to prove their partner wrong. Timing is equally as important. According to Dr. John Gottman from the Gottman Institute, “Couples wait an average of six years of being unhappy before getting help.”1 That’s a long time and a lot of hurt, pain, and resentment built up! Lastly, it’s important to find a counselor that both partners feel comfortable with and trust. Be sure to read about your counselor, including their training and specializations, and address any concerns with them during your first session.
If you have any questions about couples counseling and if your relationship would benefit from it, please don’t hesitate to reach out!
1 Source: https://www.gottman.com/blog/timing-is-everything-when-it-comes-to-marriage-counseling/