Most couples counseling is a process between a couple and a trained therapist. If you've never been to couples counseling, what are your assumptions about it? Often people bring their misunderstandings about what the process will do for them and one or both become frustrated or disenchanted when they realize it's not what they expected. If you’re planning on investing time, energy and money on couples counseling, it's not a bad idea to prepare for the process. This means being clear on what you can expect (and not expect) from the therapist as well as ways to get the best "bang for your buck" in time spent being as productive as possible.
If you and your partner are invested in strengthening or saving your relationship and considering getting counseling to help you attain that goal, there are a number of things you can both contemplate before your first session.
3 Tips to Prepare for Couples Counseling
1) Be clear that the therapist is not responsible for fixing your relationship. He/she will guide you to making the necessary changes on your own, which occur mostly outside the office.
2) Each should consider what your roles have been in the relationship problems. It's easier to blame the other than to take responsibility. Now's the time to prepare to own your part. If you're not ready to do that now, that's ok. But be aware that this will probably come up sooner rather than later in the counseling process.
3) Each should reflect on what your relationship means to you and whether you're willing to make changes. When both partners make positive changes that have meaning to the other, it serves as reinforcement and can be a catalyst for more positive change. At this time, you may not be able to wrap your head around you making changes but this too will probably be explored in the counseling process.
When high levels of anger and resentment are present, it can be challenging to get to the place of owning your role - let alone be willing to change! This is perfectly normal. The important point here is that considering the above three tips prior to your first session will allow time for you to think about what will likely come up at some point in the sessions. It's good food for thought prior to jumping in - regardless of whether you're presently "there" or not.
--------------------- Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT is a therapist in private practice, writer and creator of one of the original therapist-created resource websites. The Toolbox at LisaKiftTherapy.com provides tools for emotional and relationship health via articles, tips and advice by Lisa and other therapy, counseling and coaching professionals.