Couples seek couples therapy for a number of different reasons. Maybe you feel like you don’t know how to communicate anymore, maybe you have had a traumatic experience, or maybe you both simply think that there are things that you could both be doing better. Whatever reason you may have for bringing up the possibility of seeing a therapist, simply bringing up the topic can be incredibly challenging for a lot of people. You may feel terrified to even ask your partner to attend counseling sessions with you and even more terrified when they agree to do so. After all, how do you know what the session is going to be like? Will it actually help?
These concerns are completely natural and there is no reason to feel bad about being nervous about your first therapy session together. But, there are ways that you can prepare for your session that can help to alleviate some of the fear and help you both to get the most out of each session — including the first one!
Why Go to Couples Therapy?
Many people may simply focus on couples therapy as a way to “fix” their partner — as a way to make them change all of the things they are doing wrong and make the relationship work again. But, the reality is that good couples therapy is not about “fixing” the other person, but helping to provide both partners with the tools and skills that they need to become the best versions of themselves and who they want to be in their relationship.
So, what does this mean for the preparation for your first therapy session? Well, because couples therapy is a place where your partner and you can work through issues and voice concerns or fears as well as a place for you to both become better versions of yourselves, there are actually two types of preparation you may want to do.
You will want to do some preparation with your partner as well as some individual preparation to ensure that both of you are really ready for this next part of your relationship.
What to Discuss Together
As we mentioned above, there are actually two parts to preparing for couples therapy and the first is what people may think of more often: talking with your partner.
You do not want to go into therapy like a battleground or a debate with arguments and evidence and use the session to prove who is “right.” To ensure that both of you are together with what you are going to talk about and what you want to address, it is important to talk about it beforehand. After all, no one wants to get completely blindsided by something that they didn’t even know was an issue.
Try to answer these 4 questions to help ensure that you are both prepared and on the same page for your session:
- Are we both ready?
- What are our goals with this session and with couples therapy in general?
- What are the “problem areas” in our relationship that we want guidance on?
- Are we both comfortable with the therapist that we have chosen?
These questions focus on the two of you as a team — which is exactly how you want to go into the session. Couples therapy is not a trial where someone comes out victorious. You want to make sure that both of you are going into your couples therapy together with the desire of improving your relationship and making it healthier and more supportive.
What to Think About On Your Own
Now, while talking with your partner about your shared goals and feeling about your upcoming therapy session is incredibly important, it is not the only way that you should be preparing for your session.
Therapy is incredibly personal and if you are going into it thinking that all of the conversations will be about just the relationship itself or your partner, you are simply not going to be prepared for the session when it comes.
You need to reflect on your own personal thoughts and feelings as well — because they will come up during the session and if they didn’t it wouldn’t be a very productive session. So, make sure that you are taking the time to think about your own goals and needs as well.
Before the session, take the time to reflect on these questions for yourself:
- What do I want from this session (or couples therapy in general)?
- Am I committed to this relationship and is it something that I want to take the time and energy to improve?
- Do I feel comfortable seeing a therapist to talk about the “problem areas” in our relationship?
- Am I prepared to share my family history and details about myself during these sessions?
- Am I focused on and willing to change myself to better the relationship and do I trust that my partner will do the same?
These questions are definitely tricky and take a lot of deep thought and careful processing but, if you take the time to truly assess where you are and what you are feeling you will truly be able to feel prepared for your session.
So, if you are feeling ready to start couples therapy with your partner (and they are feeling ready as well), please do not hesitate to reach out to us at Love Heal Grow to schedule a session. We know that this can be a scary time and we are here to support you through the entire process — even if you aren’t ready yet for a session and simply have a few questions you’d like to ask!